Back in the days when my children were at school, I worked from 7am to 6pm, minding 4 preschool children in my own home. Before and after school and during school holidays that number grew to 7. I loved the work, but it had its challenges. One of those was that although I spent most of the day in my own home, there was little time to do any of my own housework or meal preparation. My attention was completely focused on those little darlings – feeding, playing, supervising, organising age-appropriate activities, school and kindergarten deliveries and collections, changing, toilet training, reading, cuddling, putting to sleep, reporting to parents on progress, and so on. As I said, I loved it and I loved working with the children and their families. But it was a busy time.
And when the last child went home at 6 o’clock each night, it was time to focus on my own family’s needs. I can tell you I did not feel like cooking up a storm. All too often in the early days, my children would ask “What’s for dinner?” and my answer would be “I have no idea”. I have to confess my poor family was subjected to a lot of boring meals. It finally hit home when my youngest asked me, “How come we always eat Spaghetti Bolognaise?” Truth: I could cook it with my eyes shut, in a giant batch and the freezer was full of it. But that question made me face reality. My family deserved better, and even I was bored of the same meal day in day out. I was chasing my tail, feeling inadequate and frustrated. There had to be a better way.
I found that better way with meal planning. Sitting down once a week to plan what I could manage to prepare in the time I had available, and considering the likes and dislikes of the individuals in the family, their schedules and mine. What a difference it made, having something pre-planned for dinner each night, and having the ingredients on hand. It was liberating, sanity-saving. And everyone was happier.