I can be a highly organised and efficient person, when someone’s paying me to be so. However, I’m not one of those people who brings their business skills into play when running the home. On the contrary I like to run a pretty loose ship. More slummy mummy than yummy mummy. The iron stays in hibernation from one year to the next, the kids have rarely been seen in anything other than odd socks, and we are usually to be found running up the hill to school at 8.57, after some kind of epic library book search. You won’t find any charts or lists in this house. You won’t even find a functioning calendar or diary system (we have tried, but always seem to default to the rather stupid idea that I can hold a schedule for a family of six in my head).
So it’s pretty relaxed around here, and needless to say there isn’t any meal planning. This post is a little ode to the art of keeping it random.
- The free-style cook has almost no waste. You use whatever is leftover from the day before as the starting point for the day ahead.
- It’s economical. Partly because there is no waste, partly because you shop frequently and can base the meal around whatever is on offer / looks good.
- It’s more enjoyable, because you always cook what you feel like cooking.
- You are free to follow the weather, as well as your mood.
- It encourages you to be creative, especially when you have a strange selection of ingredients to hand, and no desire to schelp out to the shops. Being creative in the kitchen helps kids expand their culinary horizons, and grow up with an interest in food. (Which is not to say they will embrace everything that you create.)
- Best of all, you can genuinely answer ‘I don’t know’, when the kids ask you what’s for dinner. Unless you happen to be making their absolute favourite meal, and unless all your kids have the same absolute favourite meal, then it is best to keep the dinner menu pretty close to your chest until the dinner hour has arrived. By that time, they are likely to be hungry enough to put their impassioned preferences to one side, and eat what is in front of them.
I realise that cooking for a family of six, and taking this approach makes me a bit strange. I think just about every article on how to ‘best’ or ‘efficiently’ approach feeding the family, revolves around some form of meal planning and ‘the weekly shop’. That’s OK. I’m happy to swim against the tide. Sometimes it’s nice to put a different point of view out there. It does help if you have a well stocked pantry , enjoy cooking, and are a long way away from being a perfectionist…(working from home is kind of a bonus too).