Our lovely blogger Anneliese Giggins challenged herself to make nothing but homemade food for 30 days. Her challenge included homemade chopped tomatoes, bread and even pasta! Having survived the 30 days feeding her husband and 2 young sons, Anneliese shares the handy tips she’s learned from her experiment.
1. Homemade potato wedges
Making your own potato wedges takes the same time as cooking frozen oven chips and they’re much tastier! Slice up some potatoes into thick wedges, with the skins left on. Pop the wedges into a large freezer bag, pour in some oil and a sprinkle of dried herbs/spices for flavour. Give the bag a good shake, then tip the wedges out onto a baking tray and cook on 200°C for 20-25 minutes.
2. Plan your meals
Write a weekly menu planner so that you know what you will be making each day for the entire week. I quickly discovered that there was little point in trying to cook everything from scratch if I wasn’t organised with the meal planning. If I failed to think ahead and write out a weekly menu plan along with a list of the required ingredients I was, quite frankly, DOOMED. Not only did a weekly menu plan help to keep my brain focused but it also stopped me wasting food.
3. Double up and freeze
When making something from scratch, be it potato wedges or chopped tomotoes, make double if possible so that you can put half into the freezer for another day. That way you will have meals to hand when you’re in a rush – and you’ll only have to clean-up once!
4. Homemade bread
When you make your own bread you can carry out the first prove overnight in the fridge so your bread can be super fresh the next day. My favourite part of the (cooking) day was making fresh bread. I would start kneading at the boys’ bedtime and, by the time I climbed the wooden hill, the loaf would be baked and cooling down ready for the following morning.
5. How about some quiche?
Quiches are very over-looked – they’re not just for picnics! A large, homemade quiche is very cost effective and you can have half for dinner and then the remaining slices can be taken from the fridge for lunch (lunchboxes) over the next few days.
6. Homemade bars for breakfast
The thing I struggle with most is breakfast on hectic mornings when I have to get my son to pre-school. Breakfast bars have been a life saver in our house, they are tasty, packed full of energy, fill his little tummy up and, best of all, they are quick to eat. Be careful with what recipe you choose, some are made with lots of sugar. Choose a recipe which uses natural sugars and is packed full of oats. Even the slowest eater will wolf down a flavour-packed breakfast bar!
7. Take it slow
Dig out your best slow cooker, it will make the evenings less chaotic! I think that slow cookers are a wonderful invention; the meat and vegetables can be prepared, put into the slow cooker all day to cook (or even overnight) and a delicious meal can be dished up some six or eight hours later. I have enjoyed using my slow cooker during the challenge; it was purchased well over six months ago – it’s about time I dusted it off and made use of it! See our delicious slow cooker recipes
8. Love your leftovers
I used to throw stale bread out for the birds but I now use it to make breadcrumbs. You can use a blender, food processor or grate by hand if you have the muscle! Breadcrumbs are perfect for including in burgers, sausages and for giving a crispy coating to fish fingers and chicken nuggets.
9. Find recipes you can trust
When making your own food, you have to spend a bit up front to get all the ingredients so it’s really important that you don’t waste the food on bad recipes. I’ve found goodtoknow’s homemade food campaign really useful – see the other recipes I tried and tested on my 30 days homemade blog. When I found recipes I liked, I went back to them again and again, rather than risking new ones.
10. Keep it simple
Simplicity is the key! There’s no need to smother our food in rich, expensive sauces. Keep things simple and let the flavour of the vegetables or meat shine through. The kids will soon get used to the new flavours.