I remember when I brought my son home from the hospital 2 1/2 years ago, one of my biggest fears was that I would never be able to cook dinner again. How could anyone cook while having to tend to a fussy, hungry baby? Cooking seemed like an impossible task at the time.
And then it happened. He grew up into a toddler. While my hands are free from baby holding, my attention is undoubtedly divided while trying to put on a meal. But getting a meal together happens much easier. This is a luxury that I know I will only enjoy for a few more months since baby brother is due in March.
Once I got back into being able to make meals again, I planned meals… well loosely. I sort of thought about what we’d have that week, but then when it came time to make dinner that night, I would either have trouble deciding which meal to make or if I did decide I couldn’t locate the recipe (usually that I found online) but failed to save. Defrosting meat at the last minute, looking at tiny recipes on my phone, and trying to get it done quickly were not working.
I decided to be more deliberate about planning the meal and preparing for it ahead of time. Based on my personality type, planning and structure are not my tendency. I like going with the flow and spontaneity. I love trying to improvise, BUT toddlers are creatures of structure and predictability so I realized for the purpose of peaceful meal prep, I needed to get more organized. Now, when I plan my week of meals, I assign a specific day for a certain meal. Some shifting does occur at times, or if we decide to go out at the last minute, I can try to adjust the plan. But this is not the usual.
The night before I remind myself what’s for dinner tomorrow and take any meat or cheese out of the freezer to defrost. I try to locate the recipe and have it ready and print it if need be. In regards to remembering recipes, I have found that Pinterest helps out the process. If I am using a Pinterest recipe, I can either Pin it to one of my boards or like it. It took me a long time to realize that liking a pin allows you to find it again without actually pinning it. I also realized that on my iPhone app, if I click on the word PINS under my name I can see all of them, so I don’t have to click from board to board looking for recipes I’ve pinned I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out this trick. I’ve also found it is helped to write cookbook name and page number by the recipe plan so I can find the recipe again without page flipping.
And where is all this written? I write my meal plan out for the week on the back of my grocery list. I tack my list/meal plan to the bulletin board in my kitchen for reference. My next idea for organization is to write out a list and reference for my favorite recipes so I can find them easily during meal planning for the week. I think now the hardest part of all this is deciding what to plan for meals each week.
I know that having a baby and toddler in the house may take me back to square one where I may feel as if I will never be able to cook again, but I now know that organization and deliberate planning can make the process less daunting.