{pulling back the curtain} What Erika Really Eats


Recently I was asked by someone how she, with multiple kids and several part time jobs, could fit more from scratch cooking into her life. She said she’d love to do it, but just wasn’t sure how she could fit it all in. Since I’d been meaning to write on this for some time now, it seemed like the proper kick-in-the-pants to finally do it.

For starters and full-disclosure, I don’t make every single thing we eat from scratch. I make a lot of the things we eat, but during really hectic times I certainly rely on healthy, premade options to get us through. I have learned to make a lot of stuff though, and my son even claims that my bread and my husband’s bacon are his favorite. Awwww…

Here’s a basic breakdown of our eating for the week

  • Breakfasts are simple: cereals (sometimes homemade granola), waffles/pancakes (premade and reheated), homemade muffins/scone, or eggs with something on the side
  • Lunch: leftovers, sandwiches with homemade bread (sometimes our sandwiches will include homemade nut butters and jams), burritos (with homemade tortillas and reheated homemade refried beans), or salads made with seasonal items and sometimes tuna salad
  • Often if we are running errands I will pack some crackers, fruit leather, fruit, nuts and other snack foods. Sometimes we swing by somewhere and grab a quick bite.
  • Dinner: Locally raised, pastured meat, usually with a side salad with items from my garden or local farms. We’ve been trying to get our son (he’s almost 8) to eat what we are having for dinner now on a regular basis. It’s actually been going more smoothly than I had thought. He actually asked for a second helping of chili last week, and now begs me to make a chicken dish I cook up with orange juice and spices.
  • I work the farmer’s market on Wednesday, so usually dinner is something quick and thrown together, or leftovers.
  • We usually eat out or at a friend’s house at least once a week. Sometimes it’s because it’s a preplanned get together or other times we’re too tired to cook, or just have a hankering to eat out somewhere. I love going out to dinner but we try to not go out too often, because unless you are going to a fast food restaurants, those trips out add up quickly. Plus I tend to eat a lot more than I should if I’m eating at a restaurant.

So, as you can clearly see, we don’t eat 100% from scratch, but now to see how you can actually squeeze more of it into your own life…

{How To} A From Scratch Kinda’ Cooking Schedule

So first thing first, go here and get yourself your FSC menu planner. This is going to be the backbone for what happens next. Print it and put it next to you. Now get your day planner out and put that next to you as well. Take blank paper and go to your fridge and pantry and make a quick inventory of what you have on hand. Now might be a good time to also clear your fridge of scary old jars of jam and the withered carrots from the crisper. I won’t judge, my fridge looks the same.

  • Do you have staple pantry ingredients on hand? Things like flour, sugar, salt, oats, oil, and the like? These things can be lifesavers when planning ahead.
  • Now take another piece of paper and write down things your family might like to snack on, or their favorite meals. I know, there’s a lot of planning here, but don’t fret. This won’t take very long and a little planning now will save you tons of time later.
  • A few ideas of things that can be made ahead are pancakes, waffles, tortillas, breads, rolls, muffins, scones, granola, yogurt, hummus, pesto, casseroles, and even the bases for future meals.
  • Now look at your day planner so you have an idea of when you’ll have time to do these things. For some people, getting everything done in one day works best, but for others you will need to split it up into smaller chunks of time. Once you know your time limitations, you can more easily figure out how you’ll map out your cooking.

{TIPS} From Scratch Kinda’ Cooking Schedule

  • Time, it’s on your side (even if it doesn’t feel like it). Yeasted doughs need a lot of inactive time. These recipes are great started in the morning, so that you can accomplish other things while you are waiting for the dough to rise. Yogurt also needs a lot of inactive time. If you have a yogurt maker you can even toss in the liquid before bed and then shut it off in the morning.
  • Get thee a food processor! This makes things like hummus, pesto, and other dips a breeze, plus you can use the shredder attachment to quickly cut radishes, carrots and kohlrabi for a nice slaw.
  • Double batch it, baby! This goes for thing like pancakes, waffles, and even dinners. On weekend mornings if I make pancakes or waffles, I always double the recipe and cook up the rest. When cool, place between layers of wax paper in a freezer safe bag. When ready to eat, pop right into the toaster oven.
  • Things like lasagnas and casseroles can be made ahead and frozen. Make a double batch and put the second one in the freezer to be cooked up during a hectic week. The same can be done for things like seasoned ground beef, homemade chicken nuggets, burger patties, and more.
  • The best thing about cooking a double batch of anything is that it doesn’t take much extra time while you already have the ingredients out, and then you only have to clean up once.
  • Get those kids to work! If they are old enough, kids can actually do a lot in the kitchen. Making granola, tortillas, or even batters (for muffins or quickbreads) can be really great ways to include your kids. I recommend Becky’s tips on cooking with kids if you’ve never had them help before.
  • In the end you should have a nice stockpile of good things for your family to eat for the week. Don’t forget to incorporate all of those great seasonal fruits and veggies. You can mix the yogurt and granola with local berries, and make muffins and quickbreads out of veggies like squash and carrots. Onions and garlic are perfect for dinner staples (like your seasoned ground meat you’ll freeze for later).
  • If you aren’t sure how to “put up” some of that extra food, make sure to take a FSC Academy class too. A simple canned tomato sauce now can make a quick tasty dinner in the middle of winter.
  • Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember Martha Stewart only sleeps about 4 hours a night and has a staff. You do not need that level of perfection. You just need to make wholesome, healthy food for your family around your schedule. And during those weeks when everything is going to hell, and you worry you might become engulfed by emails and dirty laundry, just heat up one of your frozen meals, or pack the family in the car and head to Chipotle. 🙂

{Inspiration} From Scratch Kinda’ Cooking Schedule


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Deanna says:

    Wow Erika! This is amazing — I kind of want to re-post it on my blog! So many good tips, and I especially love that you emphasize the whole “don’t stress yourself out” aspect of from-scratch cooking. I’m also relieved to hear that Jack is on the “family eating bandwagon.” My son eats basically everything, but my daughter is SUPER-picky. I hope she becomes more accepting of what I make soon!

    I’m really loving this series. I hope it opens people’s eyes to how easy from-scratch cooking really can be, and how it can be worked into just about any schedule!

  2. Joannie says:

    This is basically what I do. My non-cook friends think I spend hours in the kitchen, but who has time for that? I’ll probably send them your way, so they can see how easy planning ahead can actually be.

  3. Donna says:

    Love this post! Care to share your recipe for the chicken dish with orange juice and spices? I have a feeling my two almost eight year olds and their little brother would love it.

  4. Erika T. says:

    Thanks ladies! I certainly do not spend all day every day in the kitchen.

    Recently Chris gave Jack the ultimatum that he has to eat what we prepare or he just goes hungry. Although many nights he would eat what we were having, sometimes he’d just have a sandwich.

    For the chicken, I basically cut a bunch of chicken breasts into large chunks and I simmer them in my cast iron with red onion, garlic, the juice from 4-5 oranges, the zest of two oranges, some dry chili pepper flakes, and salt and pepper until some of the liquid has cooked off and become more like a thick sauce. It’s really easy and very tasty.

    1. Christina says:

      Your Orange Chicken must be a post- That sounds great!!!!!!!

  5. Kris says:

    Awesome post! I survive by double batching it.

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