Although Hanno and I used to eat a wide variety of foods, now we both prefer the food we ate as we were growing up. The food from our mothers and grandmothers' kitchens and for us, that's food from the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, all food was cooked from scratch, it was simple, with few ingredients, but it was always very tasty.
Kartoffel puffer aka potato pancakes.
When I taught a cooking and baking workshop a while back, I shared a list of the meals I cook on a regular basis. My current list is 40 meals long but really, I cook 15 - 20 of those meals on rotation but in no particular order, over and over again. You might think that would be tedious and uninteresting but you'd be wrong, we both love that list and look forward to every meal. And the good part of the list is by shopping carefully, I have the ingredients for almost all the meals in either the panty, stockpile, fridge or freezer and can cook from the list day in and day out without rushing out to pick something up from the supermarket.
Beef and vegetable soup with dumplings.
The key to this is to sync what is in your stockpile, pantry, fridge and freezer with the meal list. When you select a recipe to go on your list and after you've cooked it a couple of times to modify it to your tastes, identify the ingredients you need to add to your stockpile and freezer so they'll be available when you cook that meal. Most of these old style foods have few ingredients and many of them use the same ingredients. So things like cans of tomatoes, tuna, salmon, rice, barley, flour, cornflour/cornstarch, breadcrumbs, bicarb, pasta, chick peas, a variety of canned beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, herbs, spices etc, are common pantry staples but in the end, what you stock at home depends on what you have on your list.
It gives me a feeling of purpose to select and prepare food for my family. I see it as an important part of homemaking to provide food that will keep us healthy and which supports our values. I love when our family gets together and we sit around the kitchen table and share a meal. That is the time when we catch up with each other’s news, forge strong connections and solidify our family ties. Serving food that reflects our values fits very well into that scenario.
One thing to note early here is what we should all be doing - involving the family in our food choices. It's the best opportunity you'll have to discuss budgets, food prices and nutrition with your children and a really good way to teach them about home-cooked food. Getting the family on board with food choices means they'll be more likely to eat what's put on the table every day. And having your children grow up with a good idea of what food costs, where it comes from, how to store and cook it, will be a great help to them when they leave home and already have a measure of self-reliance, a good understanding of how to feed themselves well and how much it costs.
Cottage pie with sweet potato topping - recipe here.
So if you want your children to be a part of the family food planning and if you don't want to, or can't, prepare every meal, you should write down all the recipes you put on your list. You won't be available every day to cook the main meal and when you're not there, someone in your family should step up to provide the main meal. That could be your partner or your children and remember, cooking and shopping for food is gender-neutral. No matter what they say, we all eat, therefore we should all know how to shop for food and how to cook it.
Rissoles with mushroom sauce, Brussel sprouts and fried potatoes.
Cooking from your list of recipes, is a wonderful way to teach children and teenagers to cook the food they'll think of many years down the track as "the food I grew up with". Food is more than eating and nutrition. It's also about culture, pleasure and accepting good food as part of your everyday lives. So when you create your list, do with it everyone there and encourage them to talk about their favourite food then make sure you add those meals to the list. In the early days of the list, you or your partner will probably have to teach your children how to cook their favourite meals as well as some of the other meals on the list. As the months and years go by, and certainly before the kids leave home, they should have a good understanding of food, their food budget, how to store food correctly, how to cook a selection of meals and how to use leftovers.
Vegetarian recipes will help you go through the week with some meatless meals. This will be good for your health, good for the planet and will add variety to your meal list. But I remind you to only have meals on your list you enjoy, so if you're new to vegetarian cooking, test drive the meals before they are added to the list.
When planning your meals, think about:
- The meals you like eating
- Your recipes
- Your budget
- Where to shop - markets or supermarkets
- How much time you have to cook
Here is my list. You'll see that some food is served in a different form over two days. You do this depending on how large your family is - if you have a large family, you'll probably eat it all the first day. But if you want to do what I do below - for example, roast chicken then chicken noodle soup (or chicken fricassee), or roast lamb then shepherds pie (or curried lamb), make sure you cook enough of the meat component for two days. That's a form of batch cooking and it saves time and money. You can see that items 9 and 10 below also use this tactic, but with the side dishes. You make enough potato salad and pickled cucumbers to serve both days and use a different protein. Also, if you think a meal will not be enough - such as the soup meals - serve a simple dessert as well. This will hopefully convince the picky eaters and the meat eaters that they've had enough and they're satisfied.
1. Roast chicken and veg
2. Chicken noodle soup
3. Roast lamb shoulder/leg and veg
4. Shepherds Pie
5. Sausages and veg with onion gravy
6. Kartoffel puffer - potato pancakes - recipe is here
7. Lamb Chops and salad
8. Fresh fish, potato salad and pickled cucumbers or pickled beets with pink onions
9. Salmon, potato salad and pickled cucumbers
10.Swedish meatballs, potato salad and pickled cucumbers
11.Steak and chilli sauce
12.Chicken fricassee with light sauce, mashed potatoes and salad
13. Roast pork belly and vegetables
14. Pasta with meat sauce
15. Stuffed capsicums
16. Lasagne and salad
17. Arbendbrot - rye bread open sandwiches with cold meats, salads and cheeses
18. Mushroom omelette
19. Zucchini frittata
20. Chick pea and vegetable curry
21. Spinach, ham and cheese frittata - recipe here
22. Pasta with peas and bacon
23. Green onion omelette
24. Cheese and spinach pie - filo pastry - recipe here
25. Boiled eggs and salad
26. Bean tacos with salad, avocado, chilli jam and sour cream
27. Sweet potato soup and homemade bread with rice pudding and stewed fruit
28. Tuna bake and salad
29. Salmon rissoles and salad
30. Meat balls, red cabbage and parsley potatoes
31. Cabbage rolls - recipe here
32. Beef rouladen, mashed potatoes and broccoli - recipe here
33. Chicken or pork schnitzel and veg
34. Corned beef, potato and cabbage
35. Corned beef hash - recipe here
36 Curry and vegetable pies - it can be chicken, beef or lamb curry
37. Korean fried chicken, pickles, salad and wedges
38. Pork cutlet, gravy, red cabbage, sautéed potatoes and sour cream
39. Pea soup and soda bread with flummery - recipe for flummery here
40. Beef Casserole - recipe here
Following are some older posts I've written that may help you organise your list and set yourself up for easy family cooking. And in the photos I've featured, you'll see some of the cook books I've used that are full of older style recipes.
Here are some websites featuring old-fashioned home cooking that you can look through to find recipes for your list. Ask older family members for family recipes and those that reflect your heritage. If the recipe makes it onto your list, cook the meal a few times to make sure it suits your taste. Then write the recipe as your modification of the original recipe.
50 just-in-case dinners made from pantry staples
When you create your list, start off with 15 meals and add the others as the weeks go by. Once you start this, you'll probably remember some of grandma's meals and others you ate when you were little. Add these until you have your list of 30- 40, then cook the favourites in a 14 - 15 day continuous two week rotation. Every so often, add something else from the list and drop one. And never forget this: the list, what you add to it, as well as the shopping and cooking, is a family affair, it is not one person's job.
Happy cooking everyone! 🍉 😊 🥗