1. Get a Workawayer to cook meals.
2. Can huge batches of your fav meals so you have at least 2 months of each of 5 meals on hand. I can a curry gravythat i can use up with a curry paste and can of meat to turn out a delicios meal in a trice.
3. Solaroven - bung in a joint on a sunny day.
4. Keep lunch to bread and salad or bread and soup
5 boiled egg on toast or avocado on tOASt for brekkie.
6. DEMAND TAKE OUT PiZZA. JYST FOR YOU, DONT SHARE.
7. COME AND STAY FOR A FORTNIGHT FOR A FREE HOLiDAY AND BURN-OUT AVOIDANCE 101.
To lead a tranquil life, mind your own business and work with your hands.
It's a sign of the times that the choice is even available to not cook from scratch! Holy cats! When my four boys were small and I was farming and homeschooling, everyone worked. A lot. Between the garden, milking and cheesemaking, churning, hunting and butchering, dealing with firewood, doing all laundry by hand and heating water to do it, and no electricity or vehicles to haul anything with, there was always a thing even the smallest kid could do to help. It was great, and the results are awesome! As grown men they can do everything, and do, thinking nothing of it. They all know that a real cook is someone who can size up what is available and make a nutritious, tasty meal out of it.
I cooked for years on a two burner propane unit in summer and a woodstove if baking and in winter. Six loaves of bread, twice or three times a week. Three pies at a time, made for dinner, gone by breakfast. Ten pounds of potatoes for a meal. Granola made in 5 gallon lots. Anything bought in a quantity smaller than 25 lbs not worth considering. Eat the food that is served, or wait until the next meal, or go forage in the garden or on the beach, no arguments. Besides eating what we'd hunted or grown, we ate pasta, bread, beans, and oatmeal. As I look at my work log notes from that time, it was plain, hearty fare, and lots of it. We worked hard, and ate a ton of food, and everyone thrived.
In practise, I agree with Alex, above, that people tend to have a set bunch of meals they make as a rule, in rotation. I had maybe ten to twelve main dishes, seasonally determined, supported by a variety of baked goods, which seemed to be an area I put more creative energy into. Once you learn what spices and herbs make up a particular "style", the same basic ingredients can taste completely different, which keeps things not boring. It was a busy, happy routine--you just have to learn to work efficiently and prep ahead, and always have your staples in order. Feeding yourself and your family is such a basic activity that fits seamlessly into everything else, that when looking back, I marvel at how I could have turned out all that food, day after day, it was just part of life at the time. Part of the trick is to realize that things like cooking and washing clothes and getting up wood and doing the schoolwork or whatever aren't the things you do and then get on with your real life--they are your real life, or at least a big part of it. We have turned things around so much nowadays that we forget that.
During the times of the year when my chickens and ducks are laying eggs like crazy, I stream about a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week, peel them, place them in a jar and cover them with vinegar and spices. It makes super quick breakfast or snack or they can become deviled eggs. They vinegar helps insure that they will not spoil even if we take longer to eat them and it adds a nice tangy flavor to the eggs.
I do a similar thing as mentioned above, which is cooking ground meat and freezing it in approx. 10 oz portions, so tacos or spaghetti sauce are that much faster to make.
For the summer I took to sous vide cooking chicken breasts, simply seasoned, and freezing them in their bags. The sous vide circulator set at its lowest thaws meat pretty quickly, or I'd get it out in the fridge well enough in advance to thaw for dinner, and finally finish it on the grill. So this is a lot better quality than any pre-cooked chicken I've bought, but pretty much the same convenience.
For meal planning, I have a spreadsheet with our ~12 or so repeating meals, as well as some 'emergency' meals, listed down rows. Across columns I have the date for each week, going back about a month, so I can see how much each meal's being used, and if it's time for a break or to bring something back into the rotation. So I start meal planning for the next week on Thursday, just placing x's for each of the meals for the week, and then I plan groceries around that. On Sunday I assign the day for each meal based on our schedule for the week (based on planned disruptions in evenings, and work/school schedules).
I also have the "lead time" for each meal, so I can sort of line that up with days I work from home, vs days where I'll be getting home at 5:30 and dinner has to be on the table at 6.
The worst emergency meal is where I throw a cup of dry rice, 2 cups water, and a couple frozen chicken breasts in the instant pot and let it go 15 minutes, and microwave frozen veg in the meantime. Could be worse, for sure, but it improves if you chop the chicken up and mix it together with some soy sauce or open pit bbq sauce.
Welcome to the past. "Slaving over a hot stove all day" was a real thing. The Waltons was a tv show that was on when I was a kid. Based in the 1920s/30s and there was usually three generations working in the kitchen. You mention kids. Are they helping you?
I feel your pain. Our kids just started eating like adults and I'm still trying to adjust portions AND try to have leftovers. Our pots and pans aren't big enough and neither is our kitchen. I'm not even trying totally from scratch. Just not doing nuke it kind of meals all the time and it's still tough.
You might look into "Once a Month Cooking". There's plenty of info on the web about it. Basically you spend an entire weekend cooking your ass off making a bunch of stuff that can be reheated. 40 breakfast burritos all at once etc. If you can join up with neighbors or friends it helps. Use whoever's kitchen is biggest and the extra people help in the way of making things more like an assembly line. Kids can help too as a lot of tasks will be small, easy things.
Get the biggest crockpot you can and cook something in it most every day. I built a fairly big smoker this past year and can fit a lot of meat in it at one time. It has to be tended to all day for up to 12-14 hours so I keep it down by my shop so I can work on something at the same time. It's portable so I can bring it up by the house if I have things to do there instead. I can use it twice a month and cook enough meat for the month. Not everything has to be smoked since that taste can get old. Wrapping something in foil prevents the smoke from getting to it. Smoking meat is more of a guy thing usually so if you have a husband/boyfriend, he might get into it and that would take some load off of you.
Cooking a lot at once for future use does add some work in portioning, packaging for the freezer and you'd need a stand alone freezer though not a huge one.
I was John Pollard aka poorboy but the system is broken so I had to start anew
look! it's a bird! it's a plane! It's .... a teeny tiny ad
Wildlife Web Kickstarter: Participate in the Web of Life