My letter to the first time mum

Hello there, first time mum!

I bet you didn’t get much sleep last night. I bet you’re worried and anxious whether you’re doing it right and whether it’s supposed to feel like this. When I had my first child I felt like I was hit by a train, and a lot of other mums felt the same way. If you haven’t met many already you will eventually find out that your feelings are normal, and it’s ok to feel like a complete failure and question your existence in the first few months, or even years, please believe me. You probably need reassurance right now, I have found mine retrospectively after talking to a lot of women who felt the same way. So I want to give you this reassurance now instead of you finding it later, I also want you to know you are not failing and you are doing an amazing job. Please remember nothing can prepare you for having a child, even if you read all the textbooks. You don’t go into parenting refreshed and full of energy, because being pregnant is difficult in itself, even if you were lucky to have an “easy pregnancy” and you avoided all the complications, it didn’t do your back any good, or legs, or feet, or head. Being pregnant was straining for your body, even if you loved it. The last few weeks of pregnancy cause women to have broken sleep when they need it the most before they go into hours and hours of labour. Even if you had the easiest most straightforward birth that only lasted a few hours it was still hard work and in the words of hypnobirthing “sensational”. Basically it was painful, wasn’t it? After exhausting labour, giving birth whichever way you ended up doing it you pretty much immediately had to look after a completely vulnerable tiny human being that depends on you 100% 24/7. If you had birth which caused you physical or, and very often an emotional scarring, you still had to look after your newborn and function as a mother immediately. Yes, bend down unable to walk after surgery or having stitches down there you still couldn’t just go recover and rest for 2 weeks and then take onto the responsibility of parenting. Was it like that? We are all in the same boat here. A lot of us have never or very rarely even seen or held a newborn, let alone looked after them before we had our first child. Which way do we hold it? Which way do we feed it? Which way do we dress it? What is this black thing coming out of its bottom? As a society we no longer grow up in communities where we see women giving birth, newborns, babies, women breastfeeding, other women coming to support us. We are isolated and completely inexperienced in this respect, and then bang crash here’s your baby. Did you come home and had to figure it all out? It is difficult isn’t it? I wish we had more support in this learning curve. I know, it does get easier, hang in there, but it is hard and you are not alone feeling this way. Has anyone explained parenting to you? I bet you didn’t expect your newborn to be attached to your breast 24/7? No, they aren’t using you as a dummy, dummy is used instead of a breast, they are establishing breastfeeding. It can take a long time and requires a lot of patience and support, support from people coming and feeding a new mum, doing her washing up, holding her baby so she can shower, showing her how to change nappy, how to hold her baby, how to latch her baby, telling her how well she is doing and bringing her presents. I imagine you didn’t get that kind of support. It’s amazing if you can breastfeed and give it your best try. It’s very rewarding. If it doesn’t work please don’t feel like it’s your fault, I am 100% sure if you had the right support you could have done it. I didn’t breastfeed pass 2 weeks with my first, because I had zero support. I was alone with my newborn all day and crying. Please don’t be hard on yourself, bottle feeding is also good. You can formula feed, feed expressed breast milk off a bottle or you can give breast and a bottle, it’s called combination feeding. It’s all fine, it’s all good. Don’t get yourself all worked up and feeling guilty about whatever is your choice of feeding or how circumstances unfold that make that choice for you. I have fed my second for 5 months and my first for 2 weeks, they are both healthy and happy, and noisy and as cheeky as each other. Being up all night whatever way you feed your baby is very hard isn’t it? Sterilising bottles and mixing formula in the middle of a night is very hard, if breastfeeding works it’s easier as you won’t have to wait for boiled water to cool down while your baby is screaming their head off. Also your baby might want to be with you 24/7. It’s called a 4th trimester, it’s tottaly normal and completely exhausting. I bet you didn’t expect 24/7 to be really 24/7. When I was pregnant with my first I thought I would be feeding my son every couple of hours, putting him back in his cot and looking at him while reading a book, having a shower between the feeds and getting at least 2-3 hour sleep chunks at night in one go. I certainly didn’t expect him to be attached to my nipple 24/7 and screaming murder as soon as attempted to put him down to go wee every now and then. He wanted holding all time, and I mean ALL the time. I ended up co-sleeping, it’s also ok, just check the safety guidelines. Don’t feel bad about doing it, also if your baby is happy to sleep alone, don’t feel bad about it either. Nobody prepared me and you for the fact that sometimes you can go days without showering, that going to toilet can be a problem not only because you can’t put your baby down if they are screaming but also quite literally. Does anyone remember their first poo after giving birth? Scarry wasn’t it? All of these things are completely unexpected, exhausting and overwhelming when you are also trying to look like you’re managing and having an emotional rollercoaster due to hormones, recovering from birth, perhaps dealing with stitches and scars, and having very very little sleep. It is such a big transition from being able to do most things, and being a person in your own right before baby to suddenly your life being dictated by someone so tiny, having completely unpredictable schedule, not being able to complete tasks as expected or in one go, sometimes it takes me 5 attempts to peel one carrot and my kids are 4 and 18 months now. The most draining part of this is that it feels like there is no end to it. Of course there is, but when you’re in the middle of it it feels like they will never sleep for longer stretches, your body will never recover from birth, you will never be able to peel a damn carrot in one go. I still can’t. Being mentally unprepared for all of this makes it so much harder when objectively it should be easier with one rather than a few, but a lot of mums find subsequent children easier because of their realistic expectations and their bodies knowing how to function on very little sleep, a lot of adrenaline and skills they gained with their first. It used to take me 10 minutes to change a poopy nappy with Askar, no wonder I didn’t have time to do anything else. What I want to say is: it’s ok to feel so tired, stressed and having an emotional rollercoaster. A few days after having Askar I seriously regretted having him, because I was beyond imaginable tired. Do I feel ashamed that I felt this way? Yes, I do, but also I know it’s no wonder I felt that way. So here’s my letter to you, first time mum, I know how tired, lost, overwhelmed you are, feeling like you’re failing and not managing, and I know it feels like it’s never going to get easier, but it does and you are doing amazingly well and you should be very proud of yourself. Just remember to take photos of your baby and yourself so a few years down the line you can look back and think “I can’t remember any of it” and “gosh how did I survive”, and perhaps decide “I’ll have another one”.

Love,

Altynay

Elderberry syrup for winter blues

Winter is coming. Is it? Well it definitely is, the nights are darker, the weather is colder, you can sense it in your body that there is less sunshine and if you are anything like me you might already notice mood swings cause by lack of vitamin D. On top of that you might be worrying about seasonal colds and flu, well worry not! It the right time of year to pick some elderberry to turn into immune boosting syrup. The idea of making one was given to me by a lovely medical herbalist lady who shared her recipe. But me being me and not having half of the ingredients necessary I just made a very lazy one and have been for 3 years in a row. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect but I think it definitely helps us through the winter with it’s amazing immune boosting effects. It’s full of vitamin c, has antivital properties and complex sugars that have been proven to fight colds and flu. You can pick your own and make it in no time.

Ingredients:

3 cups of elderberries

1 cup of water

1 cup of raw local honey or just local honey

Method:

Remove berries from the stem, might need to use fork as it makes it easier to pull them off. Wash. Put in a pan with a cup of water, bring it to boil, turn the heating down and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool it down to body temperature. Add a cup of honey and mix well. Pour in a clean air tight glass container and keep in the fridge up to 6 months.

1 teaspoon a day for kids to prevent colds.

2 teaspoons a day for kids to fight off colds.

1 tablespoon a day for adults to prevent colds.

2 tablespoons a day for adults to fight off colds.

You can add it to water and drink as a cordial. Enjoy and be healthy!

Elderberry syrup motherhood adventures

Elderberry syrup motherhood adventures

Elderberry syrup motherhood adventures

Elderberry syrup motherhood adventures

Super easy protein filled snack.

This post may contain advertisement. The original recipe asks for dates, but I have substituted them for sugar because of Alma’s sorbitol sensitivity. Yes, I know dates are healthier than sugar. If you follow fodmap diet or have fructose malabsorption you should also watch out for sorbitol content in fruits. Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol which some people can’t tolerate and can experience food poisoning like symptoms and acid reflux. So anyway, this is a dairy, soya, egg and sorbitol free healthy vegan protein filled snack.

Ingredients:
Can of chickpeas drained.
Two big tablespoons of peanut butter (I have used one with palm oil because this is what we had at home).
Two tablespoons of sugar.
Chocolate buttons (I used Tesco’s own free from chocolate buttons from beware contains soya lethitin from Tesco Groceries)

Method:
Chuck everything in the food processor and run till smooth, make some balls and eat quickly before children scoff them all.

Very tasty and very very easy. Obviously you don’t need to have allergies or intolerances to enjoy this delicious snack 😉😋

Food processor that I use

Fixing menstruation problems with mizan therapy. My experience

Mizan therapy motherhoodadventures

A couple of years ago after having my first chiild I went to a women’s circle about menstruation. We were talking all things periods when one of the ladies said she’s struggling with fertility and monitoring her cycles and periods very carefully. For me periods were always painful inconvenient times of the months, something I wasn’t looking forward to and quite frankly wished I never had. I always wanted to be a boy as I was growing up, because boys didn’t bleed every month. Her comment was eye opening, the reason why I bleed is because I am fertile and I can create life. I never thought about it in this light. My mum never explained it to me in this way, she showed me how to use pads, she said all big girls and women bleed and we should keep clean by showering and keeping our used pads out of sight of men. At that particular moment in women circle I realised how lightly I took my periods and how I easily wished them away. I guess the reason is I always found them painful and they were always on a heavy side. Neither me nor my mum thought anything of it and assumed it was normal way periods are. Fast forward couple of years I had another baby and my periods returned with new force and “inconvenience”. They were periods of a woman who has neglected her health for a long time, they were no longer just painful they were “I faint from pain” painful, they were “my limbs go numb” painful and “I am going to hospital in an ambulance” painful, “I am loosing 120 ml a day” painful. Just for reference average woman loses 50-80 ml of blood per period not in one day. I was checked over and told it’s endemetriosis and that I need to learn to live with it. I was offered contraception pill to control my periods and make them more manageable. When I asked if I stopped taking pills what would happen I was told the only reason to stop would be if I wanted to get pregnant again. At the age of 30 I wasn’t ready to go on a lifelong medication with various side effects including potentially depression and anxiety. So I started learning how to live with it while looking after two ferrel children who don’t care if mummy has endemetriosis, they want mummy in tip top condition playing all day. It’s after a few months of living with it I was put in touch with an amazing woman and mizan practioner Kirsty who said she could help a little bit. Now I am not a “woo” person, science is my friend, I have master’s degree in technology and I always lived by scientific principles. Mizan therapy sounded woo, I must admit it sounded weird and hippy. I also have two little ones and any minute spend without them qualifies as “me time” and makes me feel refreshed and more patient. Fill my cup and all that. I went to see Kirsty with a mindset “at least I will be away from kids for 2 hours laying on a couch relaxing”. The room was nice and very welcoming. She had statues of women goddesses and herbs in jars, made me cup of herbal tea and started explaining things about mizan therapy. Kirsty refferred to my womb as she and explained how she (womb) is supposed to be positioned in my body, what size she is at different points in my monthly cycles, why women can experience painful heavy periods, for example because of misalignment of the womb, womb being tilted one way or another. She briefly touched the subject of fertility but please do speak to her about it because I didn’t ask detailed questions, as was mainly concerned with periods. What she said made sense. If the womb is tilted backwards then the blood flow is restricted but the womb still needs to get rid of the layer of cells it build up preparing for pregnancy which didn’t happen, so it sends a signal to the brain which then creates more hormones to increase the blood flow to get rid of the cells. It’s like hosepipe facing upwards, in order for water to come out you need a stronger water flow. This in turn makes a woman moody and sore from the additional hormone rash. I then had some gentle massage of my abdomen and Kirsty did Reiki on my womb. I was asked to thank my womb for all the work it has done for me and to connect to my inner woman. This was very “woo” but I liked it. I don’t know if I connected to my inner woman and female side, but it did feel right to thank my womb for all the work. Next day something started happening. Kirsty was there for me talking me through all the physical sensations I had, I was feeling nauseous, I was feeling poorly I was feeling like someone has moved an organ inside my body into a position it is supposed to be in. My next period was better, it was lighter, it was less painful, I was less angry and upset, I had more energy and I was certainly not fainting. I noted it down. I was using scientific method of doing a manipulation and then making an observation. Next period was good again, and next, and next, and next and I thought “Oh my, I need to tell everyone about it”. So here is what I am doing I am telling everyone about it. Mizan therapy seemed to work for me, I am going again in the near future to fix it completely and hope if you try it it can help your periods as well. Someone said to me recently that periods should not be horribly painful and something we dread, so I am looking forward to having nice pain free light periods. To get in touch with Kirsty find her details here.

Disclaimer: mizan therapy is complementary therapy and is not a replacement for professional medical help and advice.

Disclaimer: this is my personal experience and hopefully you will have a good one too but everyone is different.

Disclaimer: this is not a paid advertising and I am sharing my personal experience because I want other women to benefit from having mizan therapy to help with period issues.

Salt dough minimum effort craft activity for kids

Salt dough craft

The heatwave in the UK has forced us out of the burning sun back into hot houses. Children soon get bored though and grandad’s birthday was approaching, so I needed minimum effort activity to keep them happy with a result that can be given as a gift.

So here it is: salt dough quick summer craft.

Salt dough recipe:

1 cup of salt
2 cups of flour
About 3/4 of water

Make dough.

We had seashells that I collect every single time we go to the coast. I grew up in a landlocked country so the novelty is still here for me. If you don’t have any seashells don’t worry pebbles will do, or pasta or anything that can be used to stick on the dough. We have used cookie cutters and play dough tools to cut shapes and make imprints. Basically your and your child’s fantasy is the limit. You can adapt this to Christmas craft or anytime craft really.

I have left the shapes outside to dry for a bit and then baked at 120 degrees Celsius for about 1 hour, it might need baking a bit longer if it’s thick though.

Salt dough minimum effort craft salt dough minimum effort craft for kids

Surviving with two under 3. Personal tips from me to you.

surviving with two under 3How did you survive? As a mum how often do you hear that question? If you hear it often then well done you! It means other mums are wowed by your parenting skills, no, no, not parenting your surviving skills, stamina, ability to not sleep and function, and multitask. I often ask women who supposedly had it harder than me this question. In my head these are mums with age gap smaller then 2, twins, or an older sibling/younger sibling and twins, single parents, parents who have ongoing health issues or whose children have ongoing health issues. So when someone asked me this question I was baffled. Me? Survive? Seriously? But then I thought, well, I kind of survived with a 2 year old and a newborn. My family isn’t nearby, my youngest was born with a tongue tie, multiple food allergies and a silent reflux; and my husband works 6 days week 7:30 till 5-6. Yes, of course, he does a big share of housework, because he isn’t a d.. it’s a blog isn’t it? I should be polite. He is a nice person. I have lovely friends who helped a lot when I needed it. My in laws are helpful but we need be mindful about our favours. So anyway, yes I did survive like a lot of other mums in similar situation. That’s what we mums do, we no longer have villages around us, so we just push through. Of course, how difficult one finds dealing with children depends on the type of personality mum and children have, what type of job their partner does or if he/she are present at all, age gap between siblings, whether grandparents, relatives and friends are there to help, their financial situation and many other things. But since someone asked me the “how did you survive” question I will answer it for everyone by sharing some tips that I found useful, and if you have any, please, feel free to add them in comments so other mums and dads can benefit from our experiences.

1. Create a list of people that you can ask for help in the first few weeks or months. Ben and I wrote down our weekly schedule to see when I am likely to need help. So, for example, we knew that on Thursdays our son goes to nursery for a full day so I won’t need help, on Tuesday he has a day off so I won’t need help, but on the weekends I would need help because he works. I knew which friends are available on weekends or whether his parents would take our son away for couple of hours or a full day so I can focus on one child. Don’t underestimate the amount of work a newborn baby requires, hopefully you will have a straightforward birth, easy breastfeeding or formula feeding, no health concerns etc, even then it’s a lot of work, sleep deprivation and recovery from exhausting labour. If things aren’t exactly straightforward then you will need even more help.

2. Prepare food. Honestly. If it’s your first child don’t be foolish and assume you’ll be able to get some food when baby naps or cook while they are quietly laying in a cot. I found a jump from no children to one harder than a jump from one child to two children, because of my unrealistic expectations. Askar didn’t sleep unless I held him and he fed all the time. I mean all the bloody time. Anytime I put him down to go get some food he would scream the place down so for weeks I was eating bread/biscuits or waiting till my husband comes home and feeds me. Obviously at the time I didn’t know about slings and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to put him in one without some help. I got the hang of it by 4 months so that’s 4 months of not being able to do anything because my baby lived on me. I have written a separate blog post about batch cooking, so here it’s only mentioned briefly.

  • Batch cook and freeze some meals. Even if you won’t need them because you have an unusually settled baby who eats and sleeps having a freezer full of food will give you a piece of mind. Remember you need to take things easy after birth and rest. Don’t do the stupid unrealistic “get back to normal”, you had a baby your new normal is different from old normal. If it’s your 2-3-4-5 whatever child you will need to feed them too. So batch cook and freeze.
  • Get a snack box. This isn’t my tip, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the book or the author. Whether it’s your first child or a subsequent you need a snack box. Some kind of a container that your partner or you fill with snacks when you have a chance. Again, bad experience first time, so just learn from me. Ben filled up my snack box every evening for the next day or bad night with my second. He’d put reasonably healthy snacks in there, like nuts, cereal bars, dry fruit, oat cakes etc. I’d have it somewhere easily accessible so when I was feeding Alma and I got hungry I could reach it and eat. No being hungry all day second time round. If you’re planning on breastfeeding bear in mind it can take ages to begin with, so you might spend hours at a time on the sofa establishing breastfeeding. If you feeding of a bottle, I did both so know about both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, it still can take ages to feed baby of a bottle, and they are just as likely to want to be held all day. Also if your older child suddenly, and they will I promise, decide they are starving to death while you’re feeding your baby you can say “come darling, let’s see what mummy has in her snack box” and voila you’re amazing at parenting because you kept both kids happy and fed.
  • Get yourself a big reusable bottle of water that can be opened one handedly. You won’t need to get up, you won’t get dihydrated and your toddler can have drink from our bottle if you are stuck under the baby.

3. Simplify everything.

  • Get food shopping delivered. Yes, it might be more expensive, yes you might not be getting the best deal but it saves your sanity. First year after Alma was born we shopped online. We bought a yearly delivery pass and had all of our food delivered.
  • Get other things delivered too. I know, I know, evil big corporations driving small businesses out of the market. You can shop in local places when children are older.
  • Simple meals. A bag of frozen chopped up vegetables instead of fresh carrots that need peeling and cutting, oven chips instead of mashed potato (peel, boil mash, honestly we still don’t have mash at home because it’s too much work). Don’t be a kitchen Queen. Maybe later, everything can be done later when you’re not sleep deprived and exhausted.

4. Ask for help. This one is so hard, I know you’ve made a list and hopefully people came round in the first weeks to help you or more likely to see the baby, but babies don’t suddenly become easy to deal with after the first weeks, months or even years. It’s really hard to admit that you might need help, I really struggled with this to a point I’ve made myself mentally ill, so please ask for help. In most cases people around you won’t even realise that you’re having a difficult time unless you tell them and in most cases people would be willing to give a hand. Is a friend coming for a cup of tea? Ask them to get some bread on the way, or to hold your baby while you shower, or take a toddler outside for half an hour so you can focus on your other child. Ask your partner to help if he/she aren’t amazing at decoding your hints, understanding your mental and physical state by just looking at you. My husband is amazing, he is doing more housework than I do, but he doesn’t get the whole mental overload, management and planning that goes into running a house with kids. He’s getting better at helping me in a way that I find useful because I am getting better at asking him to do things that I need him doing in a way that I want them done. Hope it makes sense.

5. Hire someone. If you’re lucky enough to have this option go for it. Absolutely go for it. Whatever makes you feel like it’s taking a load off your shoulders. Cleaner? Cook? Postnatal doula? That’s what I had. I actually paid someone to come for 6 weeks twice a week for 2 hours to help me with anything that needed doing after having my second child. Is it obvious I really struggled with my first? Well I found it so hard that I paid a woman to come make me tea, cook me dinner, play with my son and keep my sanity. She was also a breastfeeding counsellor and in the end just mainly helped with that because we had a rough start with it.

6. Get a sling. Of all the variety and abundance of gadgets that baby industry tries to sell you this is the most useful, old fashioned traditional one that I believe everyone should have. It’s your child, it’s up to you and your partner how you raise them and I’m not here to tell you anything about parenting beyond some helpful tips but having your hands free to do things is amazing. You could walk the dog without faffing about with pushchairs, you can go shopping, up and down the stairs and travel the world with a sling If you believe in fourth trimester and more natural approaches to parenting than sling is also your go to gadget. It’s amazing. Check out if your city has a sling library or community where you can get advice and try slings out. They come in different forms and suit different budgets. I personally even hoovered the house with a child strapped to the back because my kids are very demanding and I don’t agree with the idea of leaving them to cry.

7. Get out. The days when I feel like I’m loosing it are the days when I’m stuck at home with them. It’s always been this way. Go to a playground, go to the corner shop to get some bread, find a local playgroup that you can go to if you haven’t started with your first one already, I find it so helpful just to offload, we all have a good moan about our kids, roll eyes and say “not again” it makes me feel like it’s not just my kids that are completely bonkers.

8. Distract your older child. When I was 38 weeks pregnant I raided some charity shops, not Ragnarok style ml it more woddle woddle style. I bought lots of little toys and quite a few puzzles. I found it useful to get one new thing every now and then for my 2 year old so he could be distracted and leave me in piece and quiet to concentrate on my newborn. Also we enjoyed making puzzles on the floor while I was feeding newborn and moving puzzles around with my free hand.

Hope this helps and the best of luck! Whatever is the age gap between your children you will make it work.

Batch cooking for family. Top tips for beginners

This post may contain advertising. Batch cooking. Do you have the time for it? Is it difficult? Is it really worth the effort? Why would you do it when you can just get ready meals or a takeaway? Well let’s start with money. Most families I know need to be mindful about how they spend money, some more than others but having children is an expensive affair, and the bigger they get the more expensive it gets. At the age of nearly 4 and 16 months I already feel like our kids are eating us out of the house. Don’t get me wrong it’s a pleasure to feed a child that eats, and I like seeing them grow but we get through 2 packs of bananas a week, 2 packs of bread, 2 pots of coconut yogurt, because Alma is allergic to cow milk protein and it’s easier to feed everyone the same without worrying about cross contamination, 3-4 cartons of oat, almond or cashew nut (same reason) and lots of other things. We are very lucky we are not actually struggling financially, but if I were to buy ready meals and eat take aways too frequently we wouldn’t be able to afford other things, like 2-3 night breaks in the UK twice a year. I am not even talking about holiday abroad, that happens only once every 2-3 years. Also I want my family to eat healthy home made food most days not just for the money reason but because it’s better for their health and because most ready meals aren’t suitable for Alma. Are you on the same page? Would you like to feed your family better and cheaper? Well stay with me, I am going to tell you how. I don’t claim to know it all but one thing that has helped me as mum to save money, time, effort and my sanity is batch cooking.

There are many ways to approach batch cooking, for example, you can spend half a day or a full day every few months doing it, or you can do it bit by bit and save leftovers from one meal every now and then and accumulate your food stash slowly. I personally prefer the first. I think in the long run it saves more time, effort and money (think electricity or gas bills) then doing it bit by bit. Every 3-4 months when we are approaching the end of our freezer stash I spend half a day cooking while Ben looks after kids. Not the most exciting way to spend a day off, but it’s worth it. So here are my tips for you, please bear in mind we are not vegetarian but striving to reduce our meat intake slowly.

So here’s your batch cooking plan based on the following recepies: “Bolognese” with hidden veg, roast meat, meatballs. The reason why I chose these recepies is because they are easy, functional (you can serve Bolognese with rice, pasta or couscous, roast meat with chips, or boiled potatoes, or even rice if you want to) and more or less child friendly.

What do you need?

  • Food processor or a good grater
  • Roasting dishes or just normal cooking containers e.g. lasagna dish.
  • Frying pan for meatballs
  • Big pan for Bolognese
  • Plenty of zip lock freezer bags in various sizes
  • Knife, chopping board
  • Meat for roasting, I usually go for pork, beef and a whole chicken
  • 4 packs of minced beef or 2 packs of minced pork and 2 packs of minced beef
  • 1 cans of red kidney beans or butter beans
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1-2 onions
  • courgette, parsnips (optional)
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • Ground coriander (optional)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Kitchen foil

Method.

We are going to be cooking several meals simultaneously.

Switch on your over on 180-190 degrees Celsius. Get your roast meat out, cover with salt and black pepper, then cover with sunflower oil. Stick in the oven, if you can stick more than one meat in you will save yourself time and money. My oven fits two roast pans easily, so I do two at a time. Cook for 15 minutes.

While your meat it cooking in the oven peel carrots, onions, parsnip, open your canned tomatoes and kidney/butter beans.

Get your meat out of the oven, cover with kitchen foil, turn your oven down to 150 degrees Celsius. Put your meat in, forget about it for 2.5 hours. After 2.5 hours switch the oven off and leave the meat inside to cool down. Get it out after 30 minutes and let cool on work surface.

Chop up onions, get a big pan out, put on medium heat, pour a bit of oil in it, fry onions in oil till golden, add 3 packs of minced beef or 2 packs of beef and 1 pack of pork, mix well. Fry on medium heat. While it’s frying if you have a food processor put peeled carrots, parsnip, courgette, kidney beans/butter beans and 1 can of tinned tomatoes in it, run till smooth. If you are using a grater grate your vegetables while keeping an eye on the mince. Stir regularly so it doesn’t burn. Add some ground coriander, fry till all the mince is brown. Add processed mixture or grated veg, tinned tomatoes, turn the heat down, cover with a lid. Stir every 10 minutes, cook with the closed lid for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, open the lid and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Switch off.

Now the most involved part of cooking. Take your pack of mince, add some salt and pepper. Get a big flat plate out or a chopping board. Mix very well with your hands, start making balls of the size that you like. If you mix the mince very well with your hands it doesn’t actually need any eggs to hold it together. Lay mince balls on a plate or chopping board. Once you’ve made them all get a frying pan out, put on medium heat, pour a bit of oil in, when hot put the meatballs in, fry till brown. When brown, cover a lid and cook 10 minutes if small and 15 minutes if big. My frying pan doesn’t fit all the meatballs in, so I have to cook the meatballs in 2-3 goes. I put cooked meatballs away and cook the rest in the same way.

Remember to stir your Bolognese with hidden veg at the same time.

Now you have all for your meat dishes cooked let them cool down. I separate whole chicken into 4 sections because there’s 4 of us. If there’s more people in your family split it into bigger chunks, and put in zip locker freezer bag. Cut roast beef or pork (whatever you cooked) into slices. Separate into portions enough to feed your family once. Put each portion into zip locker freezer bag. You get the idea. Same with Bolognese. Carefully close the zip locker, make sure all the air is out, now flatten it. When it’s flat it doesn’t take much space in the freezer which means you can fit more. Separate meatballs into portions and also put in freezer bags. Now remember to leave some food for today’s dinner, put the rest in the freezer. If you wish you can label and date your stash, do it before you put meat in the bags. I don’t bother because we eat it faster than 6 months safety thing expires.

When it’s time to eat your delicious homemade frozen food get the bag out of the freezer couple of hours in advance and leave in the fridge. Then heat very well in the microwave without the bag. Enjoy. If you found this blog post useful feel free to share with friends and family so everyone can learn how to batch cook and save time, energy and money.

Love,

Altynay

batch cooking for families top tips

batch cooking for families