Chandrima Pal gives you some quick tips to balance work & family duties and save some precious time from the kitchen.
Most Indian women give a lot of importance to the kitchen. But many a times spending time in the kitchen can turn into drudgery. For example, Kavya feels confused most of the time about the menu for her family. Her father-in-law is diabetic and her mother-in-law
has severe gastric problems. Her children need energy rich food and
also like more junk food over healthy balanced meals. Her husband
enjoys eating spicy food most of the times.
Kavya is a working woman and is always trying to juggle a
smart menu to save her some time Is this sounding familiar to you? If
it is, then here are some smart tips to strike a balance between likes
and dislikes of different members of the family on and save some precious time in the kitchen.
Plan your week
Take some time in the weekend to talk with others in the family and prepare an approximate menu for the whole week like Monday - dal-chawal(lentil
soup and rice), Friday - pizza etc. Shop the basic ingredients for the
whole weeks cooking and buy the greens twice a week while returning
from work or delegate this to someone else.
Keep good stocks
Do try to keep a good stock of different kinds of rice, flour, lentils, noodles, pickles, poppadums
(Spicy wafer) and sauces. This will allow you to be flexible if you
have to prepare something on the last minute or if some unexpected
guests arrives during dinner time.
Delegate kitchen work
Instead of trying to do everything on your own delegate different tasks to other members of the family
like swap the role of a cook with your husband or mother-in-law. Take
help in cutting vegetables and vice-versa. Ask and help your children
to prepare simple items like salad, raita (salad with
yogurt), pan cake, tea or omelettes. This kind of involvement will also
increase their interest in eating specially those who are picky eaters.
They can also help in serving.
Make two out of one
Try to cook at least two portions of meals at a time. Use one
and freeze the other for later use. While preparing mixed vegetables,
keep some sliced vegetables in refrigerator to make vegetable soup or
vegetable noodles or vegetable fried rice on the next day. Boiled
potatoes and eggs can be used to make egg curry on one day and egg
sandwich for breakfast next day.
Store and stack properly
Coriander leaves can be cut and frozen into ice cube boxes in freezer and can be used for long time afterwards. Khichdi (lentil and rice mix) or soups prepared especially for babies can also be used twice or more if frozen properly in air tight containers. All the spices for seasoning can be kept in one rack to save time in searching. Separate racks or labeled containers for different lentils, oils, spices, batter and biscuits can save a huge time in searching.
Combination and compromises
Instead of cooking special dishes for each of the family member encourage them to agree upon a single menu which every body likes. Dedicate one day to each member of the family
when his or her favorite dish will be cooked. Grand parents and parents
can tell different stories about some traditional family foods (how
they are grown and processed etc.) to the children to encourage them to
know about their own roots and find interest in eating traditional
Calendar, scissors and cookbook
Keep a calendar preferably in the kitchen
or in the dining space to write the shopping days, menus or other
important things. Keep a scissors in a specific drawer of the kitchen
to cut the packed food items and also the herbs like coriander, mint or
basil to add flavor to your cooking. Always keep a notebook or a file
to collect the recipes liked by all the members of the families and
also to note all those successful experimental recipes which you have
created on your own.
Modern kitchen gadgets
Mixer-grinders-juicers, roti-makers, electric kettles, electric rice cookers, hand mixers, microwave
oven and sandwich makers are some of the popular kitchen gadgets which
are easy to use and maintain. They can prove very useful especially if
you don't have any maid's help around.
A little planning and firmness can save you lots of time and energy in the kitchen. It will also encourage all the members of the family to be more involved in the process of cooking and enjoy family meals.
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- The Indiaparenting Team
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