As a cost-saving measure, most public secondary schools have eliminated Home
Economics from the curriculum. At the same time, officials bemoan the emotional
and physical health of students who have too little attention from busy parents,
and too much fast food. The paradox of this situation is obvious to those of us
fortunate enough to have been educated during a time when schools recognized the
importance of youngsters being trained to manage the business of everyday life
in an efficient fashion.
For decades: dedicated instructors taught students to keep a household budget,
make and care for clothing, purchase and prepare food, use and care for
appliances, maintain hygienic conditions, as well as how to make and keep a
schedule. Sadly, most young people now enter the adult world with little
information about how these tasks can be accomplished.
Which brings me to the reason for this piece. In my other column this month, I
say that it is possible to do laundry, shop, and pre-prepare most of a week's
dinners in the space of a morning. Although many readers may have doubted that,
it is true, by adopting the correct attitude.
The decision to be made is whether you are a person who wants to be actively in
charge of your life. Not everyone wants this. There are many folks who proclaim
the virtue of spontaneity. Unfortunately, most of them also complain about how
there aren't enough hours in a day to care for their families.
This topic is too large to be discussed in full here, but we can cover a small
part of it, how to ensure that your refrigerator will be stocked with enough
healthy food to avoid eating nutritional rubbish from the take-out.
1. set aside 30 minutes a week to plan and write a shopping list. This needn't
be done all at once, but it is of critical importance. When you enter a market,
you should know what you need to feed your family for the coming week, and not
waste time dawdling in the aisles whilst waiting for inspiration. The list
should include a roll of nonstick coated aluminum foil, so as to avoid lengthy
scrubbing of pans. Note: both milk and bread may be stored in the freezer, so
there is no reason to make a midweek trip.
2. When thinking about the week's meals, include dual-purpose foods. What do I
mean by that? If you buy a large chicken, lamb roast, and/or brisket: there will
be enough meat for more than one dinner as well as sandwiches. Chinese chicken
salad, pita sandwiches, tacos, and That beef lettuce rollups are all examples of
foods which begin with cooked meats. Another example of a dual-purpose food is a
bag of potatoes. Unpeeled, whole cooked potatoes will keep for a week in the
refrigerator. They may be mashed, browned in a bit of margarine, or dressed with
mayonnaise and seasoned for a salad.
3. Be sure you own enough containers to store the food you cook, as well as
enough pans to do the cooking.
4. Be a multi-tasker. Roast the chicken and lamb in the oven at the same time.
Cut the brisket in half, then put the halves in two different pots. Braise them
on top of the stove: one half with red wine or broth, and the other perhaps with
Italian tomato sauce. Chop and brown a whole bag of onions, so they will be
ready for whenever you'd like to add them to a dish. Cook pasta, and toss with a
little oil, so it will only need to be reheated and served.
5. Frozen vegetables need only be thawed for use; the freezing process breaks
down cellulose in the same way cooking does. Store the vegetable bags in the
refrigerator, rather than the freezer, so the contents will be ready to heat, or
use cold in salads.
Whew, that sure sounds like a lot of grub to me! Every bit can be bought,
cooked, packaged, and stored during a single morning. Oh, and you can run the
washer/dryer at the same time. Now, why don't you go spend the rest of the day
at the park?