I love September. It's always reminiscent of a new start; new school clothes, new school books...... We home-educate and it's still time for new calendars/timetables/schedules and I like to use the opportunity to look at how I spend my time too and see if there are not little changes that would make a big difference.
We all get stuck in a rut sometimes and it's very refreshing to find a more economical or time saving way of doing something. This has been more meaningful than usual to me this year being the first September on the GAPS diet.
There is no doubt about it, I can't deny it, it's hard work. You can't just have a day off and stick a packet of fish fingers in the oven with ready made chips. It's not just the meal preparation, it's the meal planning, shopping, and clearing up as well as managing the fridge/freezer flow ('I hope I can squeeze everything in the fridge!' - especially when the butcher very kindly empties his bone store into my bag, for FREE) It's the thinking ahead as to defrosting more quantities of meat than before, making ferments a month in advance of them being needed, keeping the kefir and sour cream/yoghurt in constant supply... There seem to be so many balls to juggle. So I've been having a re-schedule and finding that there are better ways to do things than I've been doing.
Firstly I had a big clear out of my kitchen cupboards - admittedly in the holidays. This made space for my jars and other pieces of equipment that had accumulated since we started GAPS and had been sitting on the counter top without a home. It gave me SPACE in the kitchen and it felt wonderful.
Then I revamped the meal plans and wrote a list of all the meals we've ever had since starting GAPS so that when I get bored of the routine (which I often do) I have somewhere to get inspiration from. This included puddings/desserts and snacks. We have a basic 2 week meal rota, but I like variety!
Next I considered my broth making. It had become very ad hoc and disorganised and in a word a big CHORE. I always use my bones twice, once for meat broth from the fresh meaty bones, and then for bone broth. Ideally, we like the meat broth for breakfast on it's own and I make the less flavoursome but none the less nutritious bone broth into soup. Too often we were having the bone broth for breakfast and the family were starting to groan! So now I have it worked out. The meat broth goes on over night. In the morning, I harvest the fatty stock (after we have taken some for our breakfast) and put it into labelled jars, which then cool and go in the fridge. I then re-fill the slow cooker and it goes on again through the day to 5pm when I turn it off and harvest the bone broth. This again goes into jars and cools ready to go in the fridge before bedtime. When I need soup, I sauté the onions and other ingredients I need if applicable, then tip in 2 litres of bone broth and add seasonings. I blend it cold and put one litre straight back in the fridge (so reducing the need to cool the broth) and we re-heat enough for our meal. The rest goes in the fridge for husbands lunch the next day. This way we make sure of having meat broth for breakfast and I get at least a day if not two off of soup making! Everyone's happy.
Then GROAN - those dread packed lunches. How is it that all too often I wake up to make Husbands packed lunch and suddenly remember I didn't defrost the meat! Fortunately he's happy with a tin of sardines - but not too often. Well, I haven't come up with a cure for that one. Never-the-less I have streamlined the process. Saturday night I hard boil a saucepan full of eggs to last the week. Then I chop up lots of slices of cheese and put them in a box in the fridge. Then I slice lots of cucumber and put them in a box ditto. I cut several carrots into sticks and bag those and into the fridge they go too. When I wake up and think 'Packed-lunch' it's a much simpler process of getting the boxes from the fridge, taking out what I need and there I'm done. Less washing up and less time doing the same little jobs every day.
How about you? What could you revamp (or already have) in your kitchen to make life easier? Do share.