Welcome to week 4 of my family food series. This week I am Joined by the lovely Jules from Pondering parenthood who is going to tell us all about meal times in her house. Don’t forget if you want to join in you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll send you over the questions to answer. I’m really enjoying sharing these posts about family cooking and eating and I hope you are too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I’m Jules, and I live in Norwich with my husband and 19 month old daughter, M. We’re expecting our second baby in the Spring! I started my blog, Pondering Parenthood, when we were trying to conceive our first child, as somewhere to share my frustrations. As it happened, I fell pregnant with M almost straight away, so my blog quickly became a parenting and lifestyle one!
Who does most of the cooking in your house? Do you enjoy cooking?
Now that I no longer work full time, I do all of the cooking in our house, with some occasional exceptions at weekends! I do enjoy cooking, but sometimes it can be a bit of a chore if M is deciding that I *have* to hold her *right now* when I’m trying to do something at the stove! Generally, though, I try to do things like chop vegetables and weigh ingredients while she’s having her afternoon nap, to make the actual cooking part of the day less stressful.
Do you meal plan?
To an extent, I tend to have our main food shop delivered now, so I can think about what we’re going to eat that coming week as I’m adding things to my virtual basket. We’re not rigid on which day we eat what, though, as we tend to discuss what we fancy eating for dinner either that morning or the night before.
What are meal times like in your house? Do you eat together as a family?
We always eat dinner together, at the table, which means that usually, dinner is around 5:30 pm and hubby is coming in the door and sitting down to eat the second he gets home. We both feel strongly that it’s important for us to eat together as a family and we all eat the same meal. I don’t know how people manage to cook one meal for their children then another for themselves later on. Sometimes it’s hard enough getting one decent meal on the table! It’s lovely having that time together to share the details of our day.
What are your favourite family meals to cook?
My favourite meal to cook is probably a pasta bolognese. It’s my ‘lazy’ meal as it only takes 15-20 minutes to cook from scratch and tastes great. I also think you can’t beat a nice roast chicken dinner! So easy to just shove a chicken and some veg in the oven and it’s so warming and satisfying to eat.
Do you cook the same meals frequently or are you always trying new recipes?
A bit of both. I’m gluten-free so I’ve developed a repertoire of go-to meals that are easy to make and that we can all enjoy. I also like trying new things, though, so every few weeks I’ll have a browse on the BBC Good Food website and try something different. I find that M tends to eat more when it’s something a little bit different – she gets bored with having the same meals over and over again, so it gives me an incentive to mix things up every now and again. Of course, it also means that sometimes I discover a gem of a dish that gets added to our regular rotation of meal ideas!
Do you have any tips for dealing with fussy eaters?
Not really, we are very lucky with M. We had a situation earlier this week where she refused to eat her lunch (peanut butter on toast and cucumber sticks!) so I didn’t push her but also didn’t offer her anything else. When she asked for a snack an hour later, I offered her the food she’d left and after an initial whinge (which I ignored!) she ate the whole lot! I took that as a victory but to be honest M is generally so good with her eating, I’m not sure how that would work for a genuinely fussy eater!
Do you have a favourite cookbook?
Delia Smith’s Christmas book. I’ve got a shelf full of cookbooks, but hers is the only one I regularly go back to time and again. Her Famous Chocolate Truffle Torte isn’t just for Christmas, either! To be honest, most of my cookbooks were acquired before I discovered my gluten intolerance, so they’re fairly redundant. If anyone can recommend an amazing gluten-free cookbook (that doesn’t involve fancy mixing of my own gluten-free flours!) then I’d love to hear about it! This is why I tend to look online for recipes now, as I find with most cookbooks, only one or two recipes are suitable.
Do you enjoy baking?
I do enjoy baking, but I don’t make time to do it often enough! Other than Delia’s torte (which I’m not sure counts as baking as it doesn’t go near an oven!), the last baking I did was M’s first birthday cake. (You can find the recipe here) I’d love to start baking with M as she’s getting to the stage where I think she’d really enjoy it, but with a newborn on the way, I’m not sure how much time I’ll be able to make for it.
Do you have any tips for making feeding the family easier?
I think eating the same meal together as a family makes things easier – as I said before, I can’t imagine making different meals for different people! I do online shop, but that’s more to do with finding it harder to push the trolley around now that I’m in the third trimester of pregnancy! I must admit, it does make life easier as I can plan what I want to cook and add ingredients to my basket throughout the week, but I don’t like the uncertainty of substitutions and sometimes find that what I want isn’t available on the app.
I tend not to batch cook. I tried it when I was pregnant with M, so that we’d have ready-made meals in the freezer for after she was born, and we ended up not eating any of them! I generally cook all of our meals from scratch, which I know sounds very Stepford wife-y, but I honestly find it easier and like knowing exactly what is going into our meals. I also think it’s cheaper than buying convenience foods.
Where can we find you?