Time just slips away…

This week has been extremely busy. For someone who thought that January would be quiet and there would be lots of time to go round fabric shops spending hours poring over gorgeous fabrics I have been very much mistaken. Sales have dramatically increased which is exactly what I have wanted but this does impact on family time and above all the cooking challenge. I have been particularly bad this week and not really followed my own food plan which has resulted in poorly thought out meals and a budget that ran away with me. For the first time in ages I actually had to take more money out of the bank as I’d run out…

When I first thought about the challenge the idea of shopping everyday was fine but now I’ve started it and the business is doing better there just isn’t the time that I’d like to a) spend cooking and b) shop. The mince from the roast beef (Hubbie cooked beef instead of lamb last Sunday) I’m ashamed to say is still in the fridge (a week later) waiting for something to be done with it. That ‘something’ has now changed from cooking to being put out for the animals which is a waste for us and I’m annoyed. Time management is my enemy and I need to don the suit of armour and fight like hell to not give in to the ready meal convenience but I admit; I need help.

Time runs away from me and is now eaten up by writing the content for a website, writing a business plan, emailing, making, posting, experimenting for new products and yes (I know!) facebooking. As far as I can see the next few months are going to get a little crazy so things will get much worse before they get any better. I work in the day and evenings and at weekends too and I’ve realised that the lovely lady who said that LWC would be my 4th child and that would be the choice I have to make is absolutely right.

So this week’s food blog is very short as there’s not much to write about when you’ve not really cooked all week! We need to club together and share tips to help us all manage our time better to enable us to cook proper meals and manage our budgets more effectively. I’m throwing this blog wide open to you to give as many tips on how you manage to work and feed your family and think this is more than just using a slow cooker! How do I cook from scratch a spag bol that takes 1hr when I only have 20 mins? What do I do with the leftover mince from the beef joint if I don’t manage it? Should I just aim for 20 min meals in the week and larger meals at the weekend?

Readers, in the words of Lloyd Grossman, it’s over to you…


Weekly meal planner –Week 4


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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7 Responses to Time just slips away…

  1. eccles7Carol says:

    As your business grows, you have to realise that it IS a business. It is moving past being your “fourth child”, As such, you now have to prioritise your time. You understand that! Dress appropriately for your “job” & work appropriate business hours. This includes giving your self a weekend, whether that be the traditional Saturday/Sunday or having 2 seperate days at other times of the week. You have someone help with the boys so that you have time to work. Perhaps set up a white board, one in the kitchen, one in your work room. Each showing times for the various tasks that need to be done, with times blocked out for work, meal times, play times, house work etc. It’s about giving yourself some structure. I hope this helps? Good luck, you’re living a fabulous life. “Have fun…”

  2. Nikki says:

    As life and business seem to be getting in the way of your cooking at the moment I would go down to 20 minute meals during the week. These can still be cheap, convenient and tasty and of course, your still cooking them from scratch.
    As a busy working mum you definately shpuldnt beat yourself up about it, making a fresh pasta dish or stir fry is still fantastic, its just quicker than a 2 hour spag bol !
    I made meatballs out of mince the oher week with a fresh tomato sauce, cheap and easy and ready in about 25 mins. If you like i will email you the recipe!

  3. June says:

    Freeze, freeze, freeze!!

    A few years ago, I was a student nurse, working shifts, with three children and loads of studying to do most evenings. I couldn’t afford convenience foods or expensive joints of meat so I used to set aside a day a month to shop and cook and load up the freezer. We had a large chest freezer and I made chicken curry, chillies, shepherds pies, fish pies, lasagne, sweet and sour chicken……soups and broths and sweets like apple crumble and stewed rhubarb too. I bought frozen vegetables (they are higher in vitamins than “fresh” veg that have been sitting around all week) and so easy, quick to prepare and no waste!
    All I had to remember was to take the next days food out of the freezer the night before (have to admit there were times when I had to get up out of bed again because I had forgotten to do this!) and we had a lovely home cooked nourishing meal every night.

    The down side is that chest freezers are hard to get to the bottom of and there is a temptation to buy too much food that gets left at the bottom and has to be thrown away because it has dried out.

    Now that my children have all grown and left the nest I live alone but still work full time and I still batch cook and freeze but in smaller quantities. I have a smaller freezer too, one with drawers that is much easier to keep on top off.

    I love your blogs!

  4. Laura says:

    That’s exactly what I would suggest, the freezing! It doesn’t have to be every meal, but if it’s just maybe 2 or 3 meals a week, then you have more time (and energy!) to cook on the other days. I’m a social work student and on placement I work 8.30-5 but because of the travelling have to leave early and don’t get back until quite late.. just can’t face cooking properly then, but don’t want to get into lazy habits of having unhealthy food and also can’t afford ready meals or take out food.

    I often make large amounts of soup or other things at the weekend (leek and potato, courgette, tomato and basil, carrot and coriander, carrot and potato, minestrone – so many possibilities and a good meal with some lovely fresh bread, mostly not even too much work, because can be left to simmer and then ‘puréed’ at the end) and once I’d got the hang of organising my freezer and labelling things (I use freezer bags for everything instead of boxes which saves space) it’s made life lots easier! There are so many foods that are fine to freeze, pasta sauces, curries etc. And even if I do fancy or find the time to cook during the week or have a great idea I still can.. but when I’m completely exhausted I’m not forced to ‘improvise’ (which would probably involve not really eating anything at all or something unhealthy).

    Good luck with everything and I really like your blogs and meal plans!
    Best wishes xx

  5. haley says:

    You should have a baking/ cooking evening on a Sunday. I know it sounds like hardworking but it is great for the busy weeks when you don’t have time to cook. You make batches and freeze them. It means you have to remember to take them out of the freezer and maybe make a fresh salad or boil potatoes but that doesn’t take long! Hope this helps! x

  6. Kate says:


    I have been following your blogs with interest as we seem to have similar thoughts on this subject. I have been shopping every day for food for over a year and thought it was saving time and money, however, I think I may have been wrong, as I think you can save money buying in bulk as long as you do not impulse purchase and only by more if it saves money to buy quantity, e.g. on special offers.

    Having signed up (in a moment of madness) to to do The MoonWalk Marathon this year, I am now having to spend hours each week power walk training, alongside trying to start up my own little sewing business, I found I have very little time and energy left to buy and cook home made nutritious cost effective meals every day. This week, however, I purchased a second 6.5 ltr slow cooker as it was half price at £24.99. Now I know, you asked for other suggestions, however, I really think this will help you as much as it has helped me.

    I have been buying enough groceries for 6 batches of slow cooked meals and cooking two at a time e.g. yesterday I cooked 8 portions of beef casserole and dumplings in one cooker and 4 portions of somerset pork in the other. This allowed dinner last night, dinner tonight and one dinner in the freezer. However, as I have a bit of spare time today, I am loading up another 4 dinners – 2 x coq au vin and 2 x chilli con carne – in the slow cookers, all to be frozen and that will allow me to get ahead of the game and then focus on my business and family for a while. When not using those meals, I will make quick dinners like pasta bake. It really doesn’t take very long at all, maybe 40 minutes at most to load and clear up two slow cookers so well worth it if you can get 4 dinners without much effort packed away ready in your freezer.

    It has taken a little time to research lots of meals, however, I am already reaping the benefits, the kids a really happy that I am cooking their dinners as they prefer that to packaged meals, I am saving lots of money and I feel less stressed and more capable of coping with everything.

    I hope that helps xxx

  7. I am a mum of two small toddlers and a third on the way and I have just started my crafting business and want to get totally engrossed in it and then I remember that I have two small children that need my attention and that need looking after and then hubby needs feeding and the house needs cleaning, and I have fallen fowl of the ready meals convenience more than once. But with number three on the way I am determined to get more organised and make sure my family eat properly, if nothing else it will help me feel like I have achieved something. I don’t subscribe to the theory that shopping everyday and buying only what you need for the day saves you money, but rather setting out a weekly meal planner (i’m saying this but I have yet to master it for more than a couple of weeks as I’m lazy) and buy only what you need for that week, add a couple of luxuries if you can afford it but otherwise you cupboards should only contain what you will actually cook with and eat and should be almost empty the end of the week. I save a lot of money doing this AND by shopping on line through ‘my supermarket’; all the deals are on line so you can get bulk items on special offer, find cheaper alternatives (big brands doesn’t mean better tasting), and you are less likely to get suckered in to buying luxury items like that bar of chocolate you’ve walked past three times, or another bag of crisps. Then in our house it’s a busy Sunday! We make big meals and FREEZE. Although hubby is a bottomless pit so what was meant to be frozen on Sunday ready for Monday ends up all beng eaten on Sunday and Monday’s meal ends up coming from Tuesday etc so come friday it’s a dash to the shops for something quick and easy to just fill the gap. (doesn’t always happen) I do wish I knew some nice pasta quick meals or somethign that I could cook inunder 30 mins that the kids would eat. That wasn’t fussy and required 20 ingredients that you know you’ll never use again.
    Having said all that the pregnancy has put a downer oon the bring organised part as most of the time I am too tired and will just get whatever I can find that can be done in 20 mins, it’snot always the heathiest but they are fed and happy. BUt I am hoping to get back on track ready for when baby arrives. My biggest problem is not having a big enough freezer. I have a combined tall fridge freezer, ehich has four TINY draws in the freezer and can barely hold a coupleof days meals along with all the usual frozen veg and other ingredients or fishfingers I might have.

    Everythign is TRIAL and ERROR Good luck. I would love some easy slow cooker recipes too. xxx

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