Feeding any family is a tough ordeal. And we all have busy schedules and we want our family to have a well-balanced meal throughout the day. I know it’s tough. Take a look at my Monday-Friday schedule:
• 6AM – Wake up
• 7AM – Leave for work
• 8AM-5PM – Work (I wish I could blog my way to pay a mortgage.)
• 6PM – Arrive back at home
I spend 2, sometimes 3 hours commuting to and from work. Now somewhere in all this my family needs to eat. During these tough economic times we can’t always go out to eat. Oh, and let’s not forget everyone’s lunch. Friends have always asked me, “How do you get everyone’s lunch ready?” I usually respond in a serious tone, “I cut out sleep from my life. You should try it sometime.”
But I’m going to best describe what happens during the week.
Sunday: After church we all go grocery shopping. We buy the daily staples and whatever we planned to eat for the week. It’s also a good time to restock the pantry. Later that night, after dinner, we pack the leftovers for lunches the next day and I start making dinner for the next day—for this case, let’s say I make chicken adobo. I partially cook the adobo and then I leave it on the stove to cool off overnight. During this time I’m also prepping future lunches. We like sandwiches so I wash the lettuce and tomatoes, slice them up, and put them in a container for the week. And if I think I’m going to make a special Monday breakfast I’ll prep that too.
Monday: Monday morning rolls around, faster than normal. The choices are cereal or do I make a breakfast. Lucky for me the boys love rice and eggs. Eggs are a 4-minute chore. The lunches are made from last night. And all I have to do is put away the adobo. Here’s the important part. I know that Tuesdays are spaghetti night at the Alon household. On Monday mornings I take out the frozen ground beef and put it in the refrigerator. Come dinnertime all we need to do is to add potatoes to the adobo and make sure there’s rice. Oh, and now there’s chicken adobo for lunch. Later that night I start my spaghetti recipe and make the sauce.
Tuesday: Okay, well, while I’d like to write this in a way that always works but I just realized that in my house there is no such thing as “leftover chicken adobo.” The lunch that was made on Monday night doesn’t exist. But luckily I prepped some sandwich fixings and now I turned my kitchen into a miniature Subway. Bread, condiments, meat, lettuce, tomato, salt and pepper and ‘poof’ you have a sandwich. Since Tuesdays are pasta night I start to fill my pot of water to boil that night. Breakfast is easy if you have leftovers or there’s always cereal. Dinnertime rolls around. I heat the sauce, boil the water, and in 18 minutes we have dinner. Here’s my tip on vegetables. Buy yourself a pot with a built in colander. After boiling your noodles, use the same hot water to make your vegetables. The leftovers will be used for the lunches on Wednesday. On the menu for Wednesday we have pork sinigang. Tuesday nights you’ll find me boiling the pork. I’ll leave it there to cool off overnight.
Wednesday: We go through a similar routine. Breakfast can be leftovers, eggs, or cereal. Lunch is definitely spaghetti. And I put away the pork in the refrigerator. Wednesday’s are my hardest days at work and I really want to relax when I get home. 6 o’clock rolls around and the pork is boiled. Just add the vegetables and seasonings and boil it all together for 25 minutes and you have dinner. In the same 25 minutes you can also make rice. The leftovers become lunch and there’s no need to prep for Thursday’s dinner because we planned for Salmon. For breakfast the next day I don’t feel like making eggs so I boil them and cool them in the refrigerator.
Thursday: Everyone has eggs for breakfast. Lunches are ready. If there aren’t any leftovers, I open my Subway station again. I’ll take out the Salmon if it’s frozen and put it in the refrigerator. That night, once I step foot in the door, I pop the Salmon in the broiler and make a salad. By the time I’m done making the salad the Salmon is done. Again, leftovers go to the lunch the next day.
Friday: I usually want to collapse from exhaustion when I come home from work. So Friday’s are a little different from the rest of the week. Breakfast is breakfast. I may throw in a bagel or toast. Lunch is my version of Subway or the Salmon from the previous night. Dinner on Friday is leftover night. I thought we were weird but hey the Incredibles do it too. If there are only a few leftovers, dinner is made on the spot and usually contains Spam. Sometimes we’ll eat the leftover lettuce and tomatoes as a salad.
Saturday: Saturdays are usually free for all days.
I would like to think that this is the daily occurrence of events but there are days, you know what I mean, when you don’t want to do anything and just have Denny’s for dinner. Just remember that cooking should be a fun and relaxing exercise. There are smaller details I failed to include: Who washes the dishes? Who cleans the kitchen? As tiring as it is, I recommend cleaning the kitchen at night because it helps out when making breakfast and lunch in the morning. I know that this plan would fail if I had to wash dishes in the morning.
Cooking during the week doesn’t have to be a stressful thing. It just takes planning and preparation. Things are easier if you have a plan.