We now have twin Thermomix’s. This is something my husband and I feel some shame about, but at the end of the day, it’s our lifestyle that has brought us to this decision. We are both shift workers, I work all afternoon shifts 3pm-11:30pm, and he’s on a rotating roster. We like to know what’s in our food, and both agree that the food I make in the thermies and from scratch in general tastes much better (after a lazy few weeks of cooking packet mix’s in the pressure cooker he actually asked me to go back to cooking from scratch). So here we are, back to having 2 thermies.
I decided to make a post about our new meal planning schedule. While meal planning is time-consuming, then there’s the shopping and the actual preparation time, it all seems like it’s too hard and it would be easier to get frozen dinners, light and easy or worst still just buy take away on the way home. This isn’t really possible for us, either that or I wouldn’t get to eat if I didn’t prepare something before work since I have to eat my dinner at work 9 days out of 14. My husband has high cholesterol, and with that a fatty liver, and I just like to eat better since I don’t eat a lot I need to make what I do eat count. This year since we are both working full-time shift work we have struggled to stay on top of meals, after getting pregnant earlier in the year I was wondering how I was going to manage it all. We have since lost the pregnancy, but the silver lining has given me an opportunity to trial and error some new ideas.
Everyone’s home/work balance is different, their routine is different and their family dynamic and requirements are different, and will change over time. For this reason there no secret answer to managing a household, having a roster for the home, a shopping regime or a cooking allocation. In our house, although I do most of the cooking, hubby will cook easier quick options (usually in the Tupperware pressure cooker where he can put everything in it and put it in the microwave, or in the thermie), however we share the rest, and he will hang out in the kitchen while I cook and load the dishwasher or handwash items that either can’t go in, or that don’t fit. So we feel we have a balance. However, cooking the food is only part of the process, the meals still need to be planned and the ingredients need to be bought.
We use a few tools to plan our meals. Since purchasing a second Thermomix we now have the cook key, I will review this at a later date, but at the moment we are just implementing it into our routine. The cookidoo recipe platform is a really good tool for anyone who has a Thermomix as it is a website you can log onto on your computer, phone or tablet from where ever you are, pick the recipes and add them to your planner where you can email yourself a shopping list. We are finding this really good as it gives us something to look at for ideas, we have a dinners list at the moment and a “things to try” list for days when we feel like experimenting. We then access the recipes we have chosen on the recipe platform onto the thermie via the cook key (which uses wifi to download them so we can use the guided cooking function – easier than looking at a tablet computer or phone that has a screen that times out). Additionally, we use an app called “out of milk”, which allows us to make shopping lists that are organised into categories making it easier to work your way through the supermarket, we have also set up an account with this and can share the lists between our phones. I often do the planning and hubby synchs the list and picks up the groceries on his way home. We love it!
So armed with two thermies I have already set the foundations for what we hope will be a habit we can implement into our meal planning. Hubby and I add recipes to the weekly planner on the week we want to try them and add things to the recipe lists we have created. We do this throughout the week when we are watching tv at home or waiting for something like dinner to cook etc. My roster works fortnightly, I have one day off one week and three off on the other, our new plan is that I will use my three-day-weekend to set us up for the fortnight, or at least the week.
Sunday: Meal planning – make the shopping lists and do the shopping
This includes dinners, implementing “leftovers” for work nights, homemade snacks, and lunch items.
Note fridge set up. Dairy on top where it’s coolest, veggies and leftovers in the middle and all the condiments and excess drinks in the crispers
Being an ex-Tupperware demonstrator I believe in the use of the ventsmart containers and the clear mates. When I get home from the supermarket I cut up all the veggies and put them into containers according to how they breathe (yes they breathe), this gets weeks out of some items and a week out of others – if they last that long before we use them). I also try to put any other items we prepare into clear containers as these are “man/child-proof” (if you have kids) and are more likely to be used if you can open the fridge and see what’s inside them. Another trick to keeping your fresh produce longer is to store the containers in the middle of the fridge rather than at the bottom in the crisper as this is where the fridge is coolest. We turned our fridge contents upside down, but I might leave that for another post.
Monday: Prepare – I am trying to make a savory snack/side for dinner (last fortnight it was a zucchini slice, this fortnight it’s a potato, pumpkin and sweet potato frittata), a sweet snack (last week carrot and walnut cake, this week maple bacon scrolls), and I aim to make either a dinner that night that will leave us leftovers, a layer dinner (like the steamed chicken in the varoma and soup in the bowl underneath), or cook two dinners at once.
Tuesday: Rest and Maintain – With the majority of the preparation taken care of, and leftovers in the fridge I try to enjoy the rest of my “weekend”. Today I’m sharing this idea with you. I am making my husband bread rolls this afternoon to go with the soup we made last week for his lunches in the next few days while he is on days off. Tonight we are cooking an all in meal, and I am planning to make a pumpkin soup at the same time to cater for my week, this way when I go back to work tomorrow I can have the morning off from cooking for the next two days (also we are running out of space in the fridge). Today is about me, rest, relax, watch tv, do some yoga, read a book/magazine, catch up on some laundry.
Two Thermomix’s may seem extreme, especially when you think about the cost, but I have purchased one at a time and since I use it all the time it really is worth it. I can cook two dinners at once and have the next night off, or cook all day for one day and freeze half of it, whatever works in your household. This is what works for us, but the only reason it does is that we maintain the planning process, that’s the most important part. If you have a family of fussy eaters I suggest opening up the planning to them, take what they suggest on board and use it for your planning for the week. If one of your kids likes mac and cheese (as my hubby does), make it a side to go with something else and throw in some extra veggies, we use bargaining as a tool to negotiate.
If you don’t have a Thermomix it’s not the end of the world, you can plan your meals and preparation around utilising different devices. I used to cook something in the slow cooker, a dish in the oven, and while that was baking I would prepare something else in a frying pan or wok. Then you have a stew or casserole, shepherds pie/lasagne and a curry. Alternatively, I have had a cooking day with a friend so there’s someone to help, especially if there are kids to consider, and at the end of the day you take half each home to feed your families and you have variety. Or cook them at home and swap later over a visit and a coffee.