at the table together

How to simplify the food routine

Cooking can be frustrating ‘cause there is a lot to do if you aim to eat decently.

The time I spend sitting down together with my family, when we share and connect our lives, is the most precious time for me. Coming from Italy, I nourish every single minute, hold on…not every minute actually. Especially when the kids were little, the time together at the table was a big and stressful mess! but that is part of life, right?
As I was saying, when I sit down at the table, I nourish every meal and I try to be present doing what I love (eat) with the people I love the most.
However, cooking and managing a family kitchen can be frustrating ‘cause there is a lot to do if you aim to eat decently.
So how to simplify the food routine?

Today I am happy to share with you some suggestions I have found useful throughout the years. But first, a quick preamble.

how to simplify the food routine:
my opinion .

First of all, it is important for me to prepare food for my family.
It makes me feel good even when (99% of the time) it is a simple recipe.
Cooking for my family is the anchor for my day. I guess sharing a mealtime simply is the thing that I prefer.
But I am an expat with two kids, I recently started to work again too, therefore, this area of my life needs to be streamlined at its best. 

Secondly, I believe in simple food.
I use processed food too sometimes but I keep in mind that it is under-nourishing and not as healthy as the fresh choice. This gives me the motivation to avoid it as much as possible and to organise myself better.

simple breakkie
Have you checked my easy breakfasts? Go to my homepage and click onto Coffee Loves Breakfast!

When you go back to fresh products, you start again to appreciate the nuances of flavours, you adjust back to natural sweetness, you crave once more for the innate characteristic of a particular food.

Now that I have clarified my why to you – remember, the why is your purpose, the belief that drives you every day – let’s dive in into 10 ways to simplify cooking, plan a better food shopping, without bringing up a minimalist diet or minimalist eating plan.
We keep it real.

how to simplify the food routine:
go back to simplicity.

Organise an unpretentious kitchen
Cooking can be overwhelming at times. We are trying to simplify our routine here so there is no necessity of many gadgets or ingredients. We are all busy one way or the other so let’s start by keeping an uncluttered kitchen. You can find some general good tips in this post of mine.
And if you read Italian or you’re a pro with Google Translate
you’d love Camilla post about Sustainable parents: how to organize the kitchen.

Try to reduce duplicate utensils that will only take up room on your counter. An example. Ginger peeler? Get a spoon and peel off the root’s skin.

simple tiramisu
A tiramisu made easy. And delicious. My recipe is just a click away.

Plan easy meals for the week.
This is the part I probably like most, when I sit down with a glass of wine and go through THE LIST (to be read with a threatening voice ah!) for the week.
I suggest you do all the planning in one day each week, I do it on the weekend when I generally have more time to do such planning things.

Embrace simplicity here. Make a list of easy recipes you and your family love. Think about meals that are simple to cook and that everybody eats well. Sometimes one-pot meals work and, if well balanced, they provide all the nutrients our body needs.
Don’t get stuck on difficult recipes. I know they are tempting but if you are raising a family, it is unlikely you will have the time or energy to do something that requires particular ingredients or long cooking or too much supervision. Choose meals with 5 or fewer ingredients. 
In the past, I’ve got some good inspirations from Jamie Oliver’s book, 5 Ingredients – Quick & Easy Food
Or you can just remember to add proteins, carbs and veggies to each meal: sometimes this is the simplest of rules.
More on that in my next post.
Keep it real and plan some special dishes 1-2 a month.

After some time, you can even create your favourite meal recipe list and stick to it. For instance, I have 4 weekly recipe plans now and simply interchange the weeks.
Last but not the list, keep a list of ingredients you running out of.

Choose a day for grocery shopping.
If you have planned your meal smartly, this is the easy part.
You don’t even have to get to the supermarket. In fact, I simply order online what I need, once a week.
If you’re a supermarket lover, or you live in Italy aha! you will always have your chance to go to a grocery store: who doesn’t need bread or milk or fruits in the middle of the week?
I am guilty of charge.

I live in Zürich and I am happy with Coop at Home and Farmy. This one delivers organic and local food right to your door and they write by end thank you notes for your shopping.
So easy and so personal and yet, nobody does it. You gotta love this kind of things!

happy mom
Someone else is happy with food. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Chop, don’t prep.
My mom lives by the words “It’s never too early to start preparing dinner.” She is basically always in the kitchen. I don’t!
So here’s my tip.
Once the grocery comes to your table, something that works well for us is to do some chopping.
We do not prepare meals because it doesn’t go well with our style.
It may be a good option for you though!
In this case, I suggest you get some amazing inspirations from Sadia of Pick Up Limes. Her make-ahead vegan breakfasts are fantastic and delicious!

In our case, when the shopping arrives (generally Monday late afternoon), I chop the onions, I slice some fruits and veggies, I chop the herbs and add them all in a container with a lid.
Moreover, always prefer glass when you store: plastic is the most unsustainable material in the world.
Have a look here if you haven’t already).

I suggest you to always check storage information for each food. Keep in mind that, on average, chopped fruits and vegetables last from 2 to 4 days properly stored in the fridge.
So preparing the basics means you’ll have to spend less time behind the stove and it is a convenient way to just throw already chopped ingredients to a frittata, for example, or to a pasta.

Alternatively, you can marry a man who loves to cook.

Repeating meals.
No big deal if you are more relaxed when you repeat your recipe meals, as long as your food is well balanced during the week.
If your repetition includes vegetables, protein and carbs, in approximately the same proportion, you are doing a good job already.
Again, stay tuned for my next post!

Be present.
When you eat, you eat.
We don’t use tv, electric devices or newspapers when we are at the table.
A practical reason for that, apart not being rude to the members of the table, is that I believe that when I am not present in what I do, I will not somehow register the fact that I am eating and I will be more prone to eat again after. I convinced you, right??

Mess it up!
Being healthy most of the time is a tremendous achievement these days of tomato sauce with added sugar! In other words, every now and then, feel free in indulging in Taco Tuesday or a frozen pizza! 

happy spritz
Who said Spritz is a bad idea?! Here with my girls on Not Only Mama.

Don’t give yourself a hard time when it comes to food: you are doing healthy choices the majority of the time already.
And if you’re not, don’t stress either.
Life can be busy and hard and tiring enough.
Your time for avocado and homemade soups will come.

Living simply sometimes means choosing to forgo a deep-rooted value in order to honor another deep-rooted value.

Design for Mankind

We certainly need to nourish the spirit and fully enjoy the time together so what best or ordering pizza when you have friends over without thinking about anything else?
Here is one of my favourite post by Erin Loechner.

That is all for this week, I will be back in March with a more specific post about how to simplify your cooking routine.
Thank you for reading!
xo, Chiara

About the author
Hi, I’m Chiara, Italian mom living in Zürich and loving it. I like to write about coffee, how it is and how to pair it with, where to drink it and, the most important factor of all, with whom to enjoy it.

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