Any of you who follow me on Instagram will know for sure that one of the things that rocks my world is food. I don't care what hashtag it's got in front of it, whether it's #yum or #delish or #getinmyblinkingbelly, it gets my attention and it gets it good.
When my two terrifying Lads were very small, and I had my brush with post natal depression, one of the things that helped me get from one day to the next, was running a tight ship. I won't go into the benefits and downfalls of that right now (I feel another blog post brewing . . .), but part of keeping a grip on things for me, was meal planning.
I've loved cooking since my Auntie bought me a veggie student cookbook just before I jetted off to costa-del-uni. It was a sweet little paperback called 'Grub on a Grant' written by Cas Clarke and it taught me that I could do better than Super Noodles with a cheese slice on top.
Fast forward a few years and although cooking was always a Herculean challenge with babies around, I had a strange kind of determination when it came to being in the kitchen. It's like it was one of the few things I could grab hold of after becoming a mum, and still call mine. It's as if I was saying, 'you can take away my sleep, my body, my sanity but you will NOT take away my culinary endeavours'.
And can I just make it clear, at this point, that I TOTALLY endorse the exploitation of easy options when it comes to feeding your tribe. I am not one to shun fish fingers or beans or anything nuggety, especially when I'm currently going through that parenting stage of 'All-the-after-school-clubs-EVER'.
But I have to admit, I do enjoy a bit of kitchen time. My sleeves rolled up, veggies sizzling, scents rolling through the air and steam clouds giving me the nearest thing to a facial I'm ever going to get. And yes, of course, being a mum always comes first. Because fighting over Fortnite tactics or screaming at homework books or getting hair inescapably trapped in the bathroom tap (???!!) will always take priority over a potentially burned risotto.
And that is why I take a bit of time out at the weekend to book my Tesco delivery slot and sit down to cunningly plan what gastronomical delights I can realistically pull off on a tight budget. I make sure to plan my lengthier kitchen stint on the one night we have no clubs or commitments, and the other meals I try to make quick / healthy / palatable depending on what parental duties are required. And can I just say, thank God for Wednesday and the fact that the hubster runs a pizza shop.
I even have a special whiteboard thingy on the fridge so the whole family knows what's coming. I find this especially effective with blackmail (e.g. 'Clean your bloody room or you can forget about Saturday night's sausage sarnie') and with the teaching of consequences of one's actions (e.g. 'See? You didn't eat the veggie chilli last Monday so I froze it and we're trying it again tonight' *walks off cackling and stirs big, steaming pot on stove*).
And when I get a new cookbook, there is literally no stopping me. Friends have flapjacks thrust at them, Instagram is awash with my creations, the Lads are suddenly expected to have developed a million new tastebuds, and the hubby, bless his heart, holds his head tenderly in his hands when I explain cheerfully that everything is plant-based.
My latest new cookbook is 'Bosh', compiled by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby and is choc-full of mouthwatering recipes that yes, might well use every single kitchen implement I own and therefore encourage me to get back on board with mindful dish-washing, but are also healthy and well worth a go.
So when I sat down to meal-plan one week, I made sure to include loads of Bosh recipes. I came in on budget, hammered the Tesco website, and scrawled the exciting menu for the week ahead on the magical meal-planning whiteboard. Smug does not even cover it.
I was particularly looking forward to Saturday night's 'Sticky Shiitake Mushrooms'. I probably didn't have a chance in hell of getting the Lads to eat even an ounce of them and therefore would likely have to serve up something nuggety alongside them. But no matter. All the more for me. And the hubby whose head was probably pressing so deeply into his hands by now there would be dents.
And in my Bosh-related, smug-mummy stupor, I hardly noticed the low whispers of the Lads whenever I went into the kitchen. Their brazen grins. Their crappily concealed giggles. Finally, after I had spent a good amount of time with my hands on my hips and demanding to know what was so hilarious, they said . . . "Go and look at your meal planner."
And in case you're wondering . . . yes, I did leave it like that for entire week.
P.S. For the month of March 2019 I am running an ace competition. If you sign up to follow my blog, I will enter you into a prize draw to win a very cool set of 'Mindful Kids' cards containing 50 mindfulness activities to promote focus, kindness and calm in your family. I'll post them anywhere in the world! All you have to do is scroll up to the top of this page, click the 'Sign-Up' button and follow just a couple of easy instructions. You'll then become a site member and get a happy little message in your inbox each time I write a new post. Welcome aboard and good luck with the prize draw! xxx