How to provide healthy, child friendly meals for a busy farming family
Meals & More Limited
I have set up a company that provides hands on cooking classes to individuals who are keen to get organised at home and provide their families with healthy, delicious meals that everyone can enjoy, which aren’t outrageously expensive. I continue to add recipes for breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks on my facebook page, where you can gain inspiration. The idea all stemmed from the nationwide focus on children’s lunch boxes and aiming to provide children with healthy lunches, which got me thinking – do the parents actually know what they should be providing their children? We have an area of education missing in our society, around food on a budget.
My need to become organised at home in regards to food came about from being such a busy household as most of you ladies can understand, I’m sure!! We are running a 650 cow dairy farm, I also run Meals & More on the side and have 3 children under the age of 5 years Providing them with a varied diet of healthy, delicious food is always at the front of my mind.
Here is some of my advice on how to achieve a little less chaos in the kitchen and hopefully some relief on the budget:
Meal Planning, is a big part of what I talk about in my classes, I do my own family’s meal plan fortnightly and keep it in a diary on the kitchen bench. A weekly meal plan that can be stuck on the fridge works well for most people, as everyone in the family can see it and you can refer those family members who continually ask what’s for dinner to the fridge. By sitting down each week and thinking what is going to be happening for that week, you can identify those extra busy days and give yourself an easy meal to prepare for that day. On those rare days you find you might be around home a bit more, you can get a lot of your meat and vegetable preparation done in the morning and come dinner time it’s just a matter of cooking it all up. I do a lot of my prep when I have one small person sleeping and the other two up at the table having morning tea. Or you might even find you have a day to make some extra meals or baking for the freezer, these become very handy at calving time or for those days when the wheels have just fallen off!!!
When you are sitting down to do your weekly meal plan, get out your recipe books, add a new dish in there, if cooking is something you enjoy this is a really good way to keep that passion alive and you are still able to try out new things among the craziness that can be family life. At the same time as writing your meal plan, create your shopping list, this ensures you will have all ingredients when you come to cook your dinner each night. Think about each meal as a whole, what vegetables, pasta, potato etc will be alongside the meat on the plate. Don’t forget to check out those supermarket flyers that arrive in your post each week, note down the specials that are of interest to you, don’t just fire them straight into the bin, there might be a sneaky special in there that could mean you get a coffee and cake date with one of your girlfriends because you have saved big time at the supermarket!!
It does take a while to get into the swing of sitting down (alone) and writing the plan for the week, but once you get into it you will feel so in control, your family will be eating well balanced, nutritious meals because you have had the time to plan for them. You will soon find that 4pm panic – “oh no, what are we having for dinner?” rummaging through the pantry and fridge to see what you can come up with at that time of day when the children start to turn on you – fading into the distance as you become a meal planning boss!
Budgeting Hints & Tips
My tips on saving a few extra pennies on the grocery shop are from my own experiences. When checking out the supermarket flyers that come, I always note down specials they have on meat and will always buy extra if it is a really good price and put it in the freezer in portion sizes for our family. I find that buying vegetables when they are in season, generally means they are cheaper. Also having some easy grow vegetables in the garden is always helpful, I am no gardener but we always have a courgette plant or two as they always seem to be fairly prolific and there is a lot you can do with a courgette. Lettuce, spinach, potatoes among others and herbs are also something that are easy to grow. I can never seem to find the time to get out there without my ‘helpers’, so gardening is fairly short lived in our house, but we still manage to produce a small harvest which helps – especially rurally as the supermarkets are generally not very handy.
Shop from a list and stick to it, this way you won’t collect up all those extras you don’t really need, plus you will reduce the food wastage you may have at the end of the week, you know what I’m talking about - that asparagus at the bottom of the fridge that is now a little limp and maybe not as appealing as it would have been at the start of the week? Also avoid taking the children and husband as I find that my total at the checkout is WAY more than what it would have been if I went alone. I know it’s easier said than done, we are usually rushing through the shop but take your time at the supermarket, compare prices and sometimes it is a lot cheaper to buy in bulk those ingredients you use often.
I can be a bit of a brand snob, but the supermarket brand products are usually so much cheaper and still of a decent quality, so I would definitely recommend giving some of them a go if you haven’t already.
Once you start looking at prices, being aware of what you are spending, you automatically start saving because you are conscious of what is going into your trolley.
I encourage you all to go forward with your meal planning, creating your shopping lists and enjoy the savings (and extra time) you will be gaining from being in charge in the kitchen!!
Check out my facebook page for some inspiring family meals and to get in contact with any questions you may have.
Holly is married to Stefan and mum to 3 children; Adriana 4 years, Mason nearly 3 years and Parker 16 months. The family lives on Stefan's family dairy farm which they are currently running in West Otago.
Holly manages the accounts for the farm and does the calf rearing. She recently established Meals & More and has been enjoying meeting all the people that have crossed her path with the new venture and looks forward to where it will take her in the future.