Right now I have a sweet little baby who, added into an already full day of caring for a family and a home, makes kitchen prep time pretty limited. But there are other reasons we find ourselves in survival mode. Maybe you are packing up a home and moving (we've done this many times), or in an intense school season (like when my husband studied for the bar exam), or work season (like my first year of teaching). Maybe someone is ill or pregnant. Or maybe it's just holiday season! No matter what the reason, it is suddenly challenging to keep up with your kitchen routines, even if they are simple.
In these seasons of survival, my husband and I have learned how to be extra kind to ourselves, to be gentle with our expectations, and to try to do the best that we can with what we can. Move softly, I tell myself, when I feel my heart squeeze in panic over the day's schedule. And even as I swaddle a baby, or wipe a face, or tell a story, I try to remember that I am worthy of the same gentle care. I accept help. I even (swallow) ask for help. And then I let things go.
For me, though, I have realized that I can let go of the toy situation on the floors or leave piles of laundry for later, but I cannot completely let go of feeding myself healthful foods. After my second pregnancy, my body was so depleted that I was finally driven to search for a way of eating that could more deeply replenish my body; that is was brought me to traditional foods. Since then, I have enjoyed a diet rich in nourishing fats, broths, and fermented foods, and my body has grown stronger and more resilient. After this third pregnancy, then, I committed to try to care for myself as well as I could during the pregnancy and afterwards. I packed my freezer with wholesome meals, broth and grassfed butters, stocked my fridge and pantry with as many ingredients as I could, and then asked friends to bring me home cooked meals for the first few weeks, so that I could avoid eating out. But while dinner was brought to me, lunch and dinner were more challenging.
So, what did I do? I spent a little more at the grocery store and a little less time in the kitchen. I made sure that I had plenty of easy-to-grab foods in the fridge (because when the little boy is hungry, he wants to eat now, even if the baby needs to be nursed). And then I set aside either an hour (Sunday afternoons work for me right now) to prep a few things for the week, or I set aside a few minutes here and there to restock as my supplies run low (I only have three minutes at a time, so none of these require much hands-on time).
Everything listed below I was able to purchase at my regular grocery store, but I am also fortunate enough to live near a grocery store with a well-stocked natural section. The list below is long, and I do not buy or make all of these every week, because that would be too much time and too much food for my family, but instead, rotate between them. These are the "extras" that I spring for, or the foods that I do take time to prepare, to help pull me through the rough patches.
|Quick lunch - mixed greens salad with blue cheese and homemade vinaigrette, boiled egg, sourdough toast with liver pâté.|