While making bread, chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter last night, I was nagged by a thought. People are constantly telling me that they don’t have time to make as much food at home as I do. I’m going to pick on those people a little today and explain why that might not necessarily be true for everyone who has uttered those words to me. (No hard feelings, right friends?)
Although I work from home now, and have a schedule that allows for plenty of kitchen time, this wasn’t always the case. I used to work a very stressful job that kept me out of the home about 55 hours a week on average. Matt can attest to the fact that standing in the kitchen was the LAST thing I wanted to do when returning from work (with my daily throbbing headache). So I will reference this busier period of my life to show how time can still be found to keep homemade healthy staples in your home.
Setting aside time
I don’t know ANYONE who has three or four extra hours to twiddle their thumbs in any given week. For me, it’s not about having the time, it’s about setting aside the time. When I know I have bread or granola that is running low, I start thinking about my upcoming week and make a decision to bake on the night or weekend afternoon that looks the least busy. It might mean that I have to pass up movie with a friend, or I won’t get to spontaneously make a new Pinterest craft, but at least there will be food in the house. (My time is precious, so I always double recipes whenever possible!)
My older sister is one of the people I will pick on in this rant. If you’re reading this my dear sis . . . STOP shopping!!!!! And stop spending so much time on your hair. You’d be amazed at all the homemade bread you could have stockpiled by now if you could just be happy with last year’s sweaters and a less fabulous hairdo. (Love you.)
Build up your arsenal of easy recipes
Building kitchen habits with easy recipes is important so you don’t get overwhelmed. It took me a few years and several trials to slowly build up an arsenal of my favorite recipes. I refuse to use recipes that require advanced baking techniques or take too much of my time. After finding a few quick, simple, and healthful recipes for food we constantly eat, I can now use the same recipes without too much thought. When you have mastered a recipe and know exactly how much kitchen time is required, it’s much easier to fit into your busy schedule.
Turn off technology
Technology is everywhere now, and it has a way of sucking us in. Technology addictions could be swapped with time spent in the kitchen producing food to keep your family healthy. Put away your smart phone, turn off the TV, and close Facebook and Pinterest. Admittedly, this is a difficult one for me. I’m always amazed at how productive I can be in the kitchen when I set my laptop, mobile phone, and iPad aside.
DIY food might take less time
With the proper perspective, making food at home can take less of your time. Throwing ingredients into my bread maker takes less time than running to the store for a loaf. It takes me about 4 minutes to blend a batch of peanut butter in my Vitamix . . . less time than I would spend looking at the 347 options in the peanut butter aisle at the store. It’s faster to cook my own chocolate syrup than drive all over town looking for a brand that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup.
Think long-term . . . making healthy food at home now can save you time, health, and money down the road. Less store bought processed food means you’ll likely spend less time and money at the doctor’s office, picking up prescriptions, or researching and self diagnosing ailments on WebMD.
Combine it with other activities
Spending time creating (healthful) food is never wasted time. However, if the health benefits aren’t enough to coax you into the kitchen, try combining your kitchen time with other things. Have your child sit and read to you or go over spelling words while you bake. Ask your spouse to catch you up on his/her day as you stand at the stove. When no one else is around you can catch up on the news, listen to a podcast, or throw in loads of laundry in between cooking steps.
Involving the family in kitchen time is also a great relationship-builder and tends to produce less fussy eaters.
Don’t overdo it
My kitchen policy is to do only what makes sense. Start small and introduce one new DIY food staple into your home. When you no longer notice the time and trouble it takes, add more. If you start now, this time next year you’ll be amazed at the amount of healthy changes you have introduced into your home.
Above all, have fun in the kitchen with DIY food experiments. Kitchen time doesn’t have to be seen as another miserable item on your chore list taking up precious time. Involve everyone and make homemade food delicious, healthy, and fun again.