One thing I have been working on in a small way is breakfast time. I have 4 children and they all wake up hungry, at different times and with different tastes. Its always been easy to grab the box, especially for the older children while I was busy with the babies. I do think though this is a bad habit that we need to break.
Breakfast time can be a stressful time of the day, but it's also the most important meal for your kids. Its easy to grab a box load of sugary, chemically laden breakfast cereal, but could we do better? And of course just as quickly and easily?
I am a terrible creature of habit. I eat 3 weet bix warmed up in the microwave most mornings, so I'm not saying to ditch the cereal altogether. In fact weet bix help me keep 'regular' if you know what I mean and form a staple part of my baking ingredients as well. We also have corn flakes and rice bubbles too.
I of course would like to eat a lot less processed foods, so I have been slowly introducing a few cooked breakfasts a week to help break up the box grab. Before you even think about doing some cooking in the morning though I have a few tips:
- Wake up before the kids, about half an hour before them. *Groan* I hear you say, but honestly that lovely quiet house where you can have a hot uninterrupted cuppa before the bombardment really does help you get in a good frame of mind to cook and create for the little cherubs.
- Make sure you don't choose a morning where you have to be out the door by 8am. Why put the extra pressure on yourself? So, if you work everyday and need to get out the door that early save your cooked breaky days for the weekend.
- Start with a clean kitchen. If I come into a kitchen first thing in the morning and I have clean benches and no dishes then it puts me in a better mental state to want to cook for the family - after I've boiled the kettle of course!
- Keep it simple. Don't go all Masterchef on your creations. Keep it simple i.e. if your doing pancakes just put out one topping like a bowl of frozen berries and some pure maple syrup.
- You can put leftovers in the kids school lunchbox. If there is some French toast left over I cut it up into smaller bite size pieces and put in a container and into the lunchbox it goes! Butter a pancake or two, spread some jam and there is their play time snack.
So what have I found is the best to cook quickly and easily? Here is the list and some recipes to get you started:
- Porridge - Grab a bag of $2 whole oats from the supermarket and follow the instructions on the back. I use my Thermomix so I can walk away and put some washing on, but before I had it I used the stove top. In 10 minutes you have a large pot to feed 5 hungry mouths. Add some maple syrup, frozen berries, cut up banana or cinnamon sugar to entice fussy eaters.
- Pancakes - A real crowd pleaser. I have a large fry pan so I make 4 at a time, about saucer size. They cook quickly and I just pop in the oven to keep warm until I have a large enough pile to serve up. I put out maple syrup, berries, bananas, cream, honey, whatever I have really. My recipe is this, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp of caster sugar, pinch of salt, self raising flour and milk. Mix all together into a batter consistency there you have it. I don't measure the milk and flour as I just make up enough to fill my 2 ltr jug and add more of either ingredient to get the pouring consistency I want. The longer your batter stands as well the more it will thicken.
- French Toast - savoury or sweet the concept is the same, in a bowl crack 3-4 eggs, add some milk, stir and then dip in your bread until just coated in the mixture (not sopping wet) and then fry in a buttered fry pan. Make it sweet by adding some castor sugar and then after its fried sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while still warm. Add maple syrup or honey and cream with berries.
To make savoury add salt and pepper. I like onion salt. You can also sprinkle with a little Parmesan while it is frying in the pan - yum!
To make cinnamon sugar add a tablespoon of cinnamon to a small container of caster sugar and shake. I leave some cinnamon quills in the container as well.
- Scrambled Eggs - this literally takes as long as it takes to toast some bread and then breaky is ready. In a small pan melt some butter and when the butter is frothing add your mixture of 2-3 beaten eggs ( I use the ratio of 1 egg per person), a splash of cream and some onion salt. Stir around in the hot butter until your mixture starts to curdle and cook together. Don't over cook. It's much nicer under done when the eggs look shiny and silky not dry. Serve on top of hot buttered toast.
- Grilled Toasties - if you have a sandwich maker and are familiar with these make up some toasties with cheese and onion and tomato - try to avoid the processed hams. Or you could put last nights left spag bol inside. You can also make sweet ones with some chopped bananas and a sprinkle of brown sugar on the inside. You can even make a load of these on the weekend and freeze them, ready to grab and re-heat quickly on a busy morning.
- Got an extra 10 minutes? Try some Texas Size Muffins. A whole muffin would be a could grab and go breaky food. My go to recipe is:
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Add sugar and blueberries.
In a separate bowl, mix milk, eggs and oil.
Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon into 12 hole muffin tin or 6 Texas Muffin holes. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar if desired.
You don't have to use blueberries, use any berries you like, some chopped pear or apple, tin peaches, even a bit of milk swished around the last of the jam jar!
Then bang the dishes in the dishwasher and your done!
I hope these have given you some ideas and to help you realise that kicking the box habit isn't as daunting as you would think.