A Couple of Weeks back we began a series called Table for Ten… so many folk ask us how on earth we feed a family of ten every single day!! And so I began the series, and in the business of life – and a kind reader mentioning that I hadn’t finished up… Oops!!! I realised that I never finished the series!!! So here it is the end of the “Table for Ten Series” and We Are What We Eat.
The Series So Far…
- Table for Ten Part 1: Se7en + 1 Food Rules…
- Table for Ten Part 2: The Hardware… Kitchen Tools We Do and Don’t Use…
- Table for Ten Part 3: Fairly Frugal Grocery Shopping…
We Are What We Eat
I am sure that we eat what most families eat, but our readers ask this question so often!!! Probably the only difference between what we eat and many others is that we cook most of our meals from scratch and probably a few more vegetables per plate than usual. We really stopped eating take-outs, and none of us would elect to eat something prepackaged, when we had allergic children and we started reading labels. Once you get into the habit of reading food labels there are some foods that you will never eat again. And certainly in South Africa, where strict labelling is very “ho-hum” non-existent… none of us will eat “permitted (unknown!) flavorants or colorants”. Just NO!!!
Also we probably eat slightly less typical serving sizes… I would rather my kids ate less pasta and still had room for an apple after dinner. So for a meal with pasta, we eat a batch of pasta or one bag of spaghetti; for a meal with rice, one cup of uncooked rice makes enough rice for all of us. For a meal with mince 500g or a pound is sufficient. Because we always add beans and vegetables to our meals to “stretch it” a little further and also it is healthier
A Couple of folk asked what our pantry looked like… we shop fairly often we don’t need a huge pantry… we usually have a can or two of beans on the shelf, and an array of spices – we love lots of flavours!!! Otherwise we have an array of flour: regular, self raising and bread flour; and sugars: brown, sticky, white, castor and icing sugar, for baking. We keep those in sealed tubs… because we once had a mouse invasion – I could go on about it, but will spare you!!! Just to say we keep everything in sealed tubs. We have a flour tub, a sugar tub… a sweet and savoury tub. The sweet tub has things for baking… like baking powder and sprinkles, the savoury tub has curry powders and yeast and a couple of things we need for savoury dishes. And that is pretty much our pantry… Other ingredients we keep in our tin can collection… and fresh fruit and vegetables we buy once or twice a week and we store them in boxes.
For years I put off anything called “meal-planning.” I thought it would just be too restrictive… too rigorous… too monotonous… But I was wrong!!! I have found it to be really useful, it opens up our day and makes our afternoons so much longer… because I no longer have to decide what to make, I no longer hover around and start something, only to discover that I don’t have the correct ingredients… Also if I know what meal is on the way then I can let the children that are finished with schoolwork begin with the pre-preparation and it almost guarantees that dinner will arrive on the table timeoulsy!!!
Let’s begin at the beginning, with the most important meal of the day. Most days it is cooked oatmeal porridge, with a dash of brown sugar, or drizzle of honey. Not everyone loves and adores it, but it fills tummies and we all eat it!!! On Fridays Hood #1 makes cinnamon buns. On Saturdays the father person often has early meetings, we all have what we call “the works” egg and bacon and toast… mid-morning. And that leaves Sunday… the only day we have to be up and out of the house early for church… so a box of cereal. And the reason we don’t eat cereal otherwise… one box is a meal!!!
We make a loaf of bread or rolls in our bread machine most days. The person that finishes school first is the person that gets to make sandwiches or rolls. We usually have cheese, or tuna, or egg mayonnaise or even baked beans if we make toast – something different each day of the week – variety is key to keeping the troops happy!!! The first finished also gets to chop up fruit and generally get everything ready for lunch… it is a huge reward to put lunch together while others are still busy finishing up with their schoolwork!!!
Monday: Is mince day… We have Spaghetti Bolognaise or cottage pie or spaghetti and meatballs or lasagne. Whatever we have there is 500g of mince involved, and depending what we make with it we add: a couple of sliced onions and grated carrots, 1/4 cabbage and a can of beans. Then we add some roast tomato sauce and a packet of pasta and we are good to go. The kids usually make up most of the components of this meal during the afternoon and then I just put it together.
Tuesday: The kids always make and have Mac ‘n cheese for dinner. Always the same, inflexible Tuesday!!! The father person gets home late on Tuesday… the kids eat early and we head for the library or bed and a pile of books depending on how our day went!!! The father person brings home dinner for two and he usually cooks and we eat together later.
Wednesday: My mom-in-law comes for dinner every Wednesday night. She likes a roast dinner and so she gets a roast, it is quick and easy and I can pop it into the oven and forget about it while I clean the house!!! I usually roast a chicken, with roast potatoes and a salad or the vegetables she likes. We also have dessert in honour of the event: baked apples are quick and easy for my kids to make and our pastry chef also likes making apple crumble or apple pie.
Thursday: Experimental day… If the kids are learning about a particular country and want to eat food from over there… or we are reviewing a cook book then Thursday is the day that we get into trying new things… If we aren’t trying something new… then we will have a fish dish or stir-fry… everyone loves it – a cup of rice, a heap of slivered vegetables and a packet of bacon or a packet of beef strips or our whole family really loves curry and all the little extras that go with it!!!
Friday: Is almost always hamburgers or wraps… because our kids are busy at different times and venues and we spend most of the evening shuffling them to and from youth group… so we need a meal that we can prepare and set out and then they can build their own meal when they are ready, especially the older guys who come home much later.
Saturday: Is always pizza… Saturday nights are “traditional guests come over and we make pizza nights…” the father person has it down to a fine art by now!!! Pizza is great for any number of guests and they can have a say in what goes on top… with kids we just let them make their own… our visitors usually enjoy joining in!!!
Sunday: Sundays are days of church and rest – lots of naps in our house and usually a mad dash out the door of the older children with their father person to get to evening church on time… so supper has to be quick, like soup or a fritatta or slow like a roast that we can all eat together when they get back. Whatever it is it cannot take hours in the kitchen!!!
We don’t actually eat snacks, not to say that my kids don’t eat something that is placed before them!!! If visitors pop around we may put an instant cake into the oven or cookies… Sometimes we will just chop up some fruit and vegetables… and in the summer watermelon is the answer to all catering events!!!
And that as they say is that… The only other question you might have is how do we cope with dinner guests, expected or unexpected, more than a couple of times a week… well we stick to the plan and adapt ever so slightly. I have written a post previously on how we cope with heaps of dinner guests… in order to avoid total terror at the thought of ten students arriving at dinner time – we had to get a plan!!! In the years when I had no plan to feed unexpected guests I lived in terror of them arriving… but just a few adaptions to a meal can mean that you can stay sane, keep the door open and be welcoming.
That’s it!!! An entire series… written for all our readers, who were dying to know what we really eat!!!