the lovely rainbowcake has a couple of fascinating posts re. stocking, shopping, cooking and feeding over at her great food blog. i find this sort of information incredibly interesting and helpful, as i am always looking out for ways to make our family life more varied, and yes, perhaps even a little more efficient! it's great to read about other families' routines. i'm thus feeling inspired to divulge a little bit of our own routine (in switzerland, rather than in australia, as our routine is a bit off-kilter at the moment).
SHOPPING AND STOCKING
usually i am very haphazard about shopping and stocking and planning meals. this is something i am trying to change, as i spend an awful lot of time dashing to the shops to get that crucial ingredient for whatever i making for the evening. this is also very impractical when you have small children in tow.
when i wake up in the morning i think to myself, hmmm, what do i feel like for dinner? maybe i'll check out a few cookbooks before i decide. then i'll check the pantry and see what's there that i need and make a list for what is not. other household items that i think of during breakfast are also added. it's probably important to mention here that in switzerland everyone seems to shop more or less daily, a bit strange considering that there isn't a fresh food market, merely a supermarket as usual. i think, however, it is probably a cultural thing left over from a time before migros ruled the swiss food world. i make a point of getting out of the house at least once, if not twice a day, especially if max is at home with lola and i (he is with his grandparents one day a week and two days a week at the chinderhuus). living in an apartment, i've found out the hard way that cabin fever soon starts to descend if we don't make the effort to get out and about. so, usually we'll make a trip to the supermarket or the local volg (small local shop, via the sportplatz for playtime or bike riding) for supplies. i don't do big grocery shops with both kids, i usually just get what we need for the day. bigger shopping expeditions are done either on the weekend when bruno is home (one of us will go while the other stays home with the kids), or when max is at the chinderhuus - at the moment lola is still quite easy-going when it comes to shopping but of course this may all change! another eason why i only shop for small amounts during the week is that i just can't carry it all! i have a car, but the layout of our apartment building is such that our car is parked about 50 metres away. again, i learnt the hard way that hauling heavy shopping bags 50 metres and then up 4 flights of stairs with a baby in one arm plus the mail, a protesting 3 year old with the other, is not very much fun. especially when it is snowing. i have arm muscles like you wouldn't believe!
i try to keep a good store of staples:
- pasta: tortiglioni (easy for lola to hold), penne rigate, spirals, egg fettucine, linguine and spaghetti
- tinned tomatoes
- rice (since buying our rice cooker we LOVE rice): jasmine, basmati, a couple of diff. types of risotto rice, occasionally brown
- cous cous
- red kidney beans
- red lentils
- baked beans (of course)
- organic rolled oats
- various dried fruits and nuts (organic where possible): figs, apricots, sultanas, hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts etc
- almond butter
- EV olive oil (bruno's parents bring it back from tuscany for us in giant tins)
- soy sauce
in the fridge:
- organic full cream milk (in bags). most milk in CH is organic
- yoghurts: whatever is in season - faves are rhubarb and vanilla, chocolate and pear, blood orange, orange and fig, hazelnut, greek almond or fig, apricot
- unsalted butter - so fantastic!
- cheese box: usually some gruyere (rezent - strong, or the milder version), a blue, and one of those other stinky swiss cheeses i can't stomach, like tilsit, which bruno loves
- home-made jams
- frau ruckstuhl's eggs
- proscuitto or bundnerfleisch: semi-dried raw meat, in wafer thin slices
obviously, there's more stuff (condiments etc) but i can't remember them all now, it's been so long since i've seen the inside of my own fridge (3 months!). i'm a fanatic about fresh fruits and vegetables (probably more on the side of fruit), so it goes without saying that i have bowls of seasonal fruit ripening all over the house, soaking up whatever sunshine is available.
some favourite meals:
- lamb or beef casserole: i try to shove as many veges as i can in there!
- chicken soup with rice and avgolemno
- ratatouille, baked in the oven with eggs cracked into the surface, with cous cous
- rice wraps
- cheese tart: a great favourite of the swiss is the enormous cheese tart, like a big, very cheesy quiche. diced speck can be added for extra oomph. max looooves this.
- tuna pasta
- risottos of various kinds
- corn and coriander cakes with prosciutto and roasted toms
- basic tomato sauce and vege pasta
- lasagna, vege or meat
- dhal, with coriander and rice
- green vege curry
- tom yum soup with fried fish and rice
- and of course, fish fingers and home-made chips - max's (and bruno's!) favourite.
the other staple is bread (huge hunks of delicious st. galler brot or schraubenbrot), cheese, whatever meats are on hand, avocado, jam, yoghurt, cherry tomatoes, roasted tomatoes etc etc
dinner isn't always a big deal. sometimes we eat our main meal at lunchtime, and just have something light (the afore-mentioned bread and cheese) for dinner, plus a glass of wine (only for the adults : ) ). it's very common in CH for lunch to be the main meal, as a lot fo people still come home for lunch. indeed, all children come home from school for lunch (thereby putting a spanner in the works of nay mother who thinks she might be able to get her career back on track once her kiddies are in school, hrrrmph). it's kinder on yr digestion to eat this way, but it's hard to break the pattern of a life-time of conditioning. actually, it is sometimes easier for the kids, too, because early evening is such a fraught time that having conflicts and struggles over dinner is almost too much to bear. lunch time can be easier to manage and little appetites are often heartier.
as much as i love desserts, i have to restrain myself from making them too often, just a couple of times a week. i make more on weekends, and definitely if we have people over for dinner. usually it's fresh fruit, or a biscuit from the stash above the fridge (biscuits are an addiction for swissies). on the weekends i make zopf, a swiss speciality. we have that for a yummy sunday mornign brekky with eggs and cheese and other goodies. oh, but i do seem to make a lot of cakes. however, i usually give one portion to bruno's parents, one to our good friends peter and steffi, and keep the last remaining bit for us. so it doesn't actually seem like we eat cake a lot.
now that lola is eating more or less the same food as we do, i think it timely to re-think my shopping, stocking and meal planning routines. i'd like to start *eeeek!* plannign a few meals in advance, cookign up a storm on weekends and freezing batches of it all to eat during the week. i do find myself getting pretty stressed having to make something different for dinner every day, esp. if we've had a busy or difficult day. i know quite a few people who do this and it seems to work for them. it requires a degree of planning, though, that i'm still working up to! will also have to do something about our PATHETIC freezer situation - it's one of those awful shoebox size ones inside the fridge. i need a stand-alone one at least, surely!
if anyone else has any useful tips/hints/ideas on how to manage cooking/eating routines, i'd So love to hear them.