While it's nice to try new foods and increase our culinary skills, I don't think we should put pressure on ourselves to cook like a MasterChef contestant every night.
I enjoy cooking. And my son seems to be growing an interest in cooking also. But I don't like spending the whole day in the kitchen if I can help it. Sometimes eggs on toast will suffice on those rushed evenings to allow a little time to relax.
I've found what works for us is to list down the foods my family love, and will eat. And have them on rotation throughout the month. I've mastered these meals since they are cooked often, so they don't take long to get on the table. We spend less time arguing and getting the kids to eat because I know they love them. And it just makes that busy time of an evening when everyone is tired run so much smoother.
I'll save more complex meals for when time allows, or venture out to a nice restaurant for something different.
It also helps to focus on fresh ingredients prepared simply. Delicious food needn't be complicated.
A pasta tossed with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and mozzarella. Toast topped with avocado, feta, olive oil and rocket. Or pan grilled fish with lemon and a side of blanched greens.
I save time shopping because I have a regular list and meal plan. And our pantry and refrigerator are organised and consistent in their contents. Never overflowing with endless amounts of food which helps reduce waste.
Batch cooking helps. I make double the dose of our favourite cherry tomato sauce and freeze it in measured portions. Ready to use as a base for a risotto, pasta or chicken parmigiana.
I've also found it has helped to peel myself away from what others on social media are cooking. Yes it looks amazing, and can be inspiring, but sometimes it can make us feel like we aren't doing enough. We aren't cooking as healthy as we could be. Or making as gourmet meals as others. It can place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be doing more.
So when it comes to mealtime, my belief is that we should let our senses guide us on what we feel our body needs. Rather than what the latest fad diet tells us we shouldn't be eating. Cook the foods we love, savour, and enjoy them in moderation. Prepare foods with simplicity in mind and free up our time. Time to play with our children, spend with our partner curled up on a couch, tucked up in bed reading a book, or whatever it may be.
And don't beat ourselves up if toast is all that makes it to the table.