Tea time always strikes fear in me. As the hour hand creeps towards 5pm, my heart slowly reaches a standstill. The terrible hour is nearly upon me. Where the children, if not fed on time, rip into each other with a kind of vehemence uncharacteristic of them. Tears, screams and malicious shoves are par of the course.
Then we hit critical point where it’s mum versus children. Equally tired, I have to play peace negotiator, cook tea and do general domestic chores (which I hate by the way). Shouting and barking ensues. From my direction of course. Many a time I have reached out to that glass of wine in a bid to soothe frazzled nerves.
Low blood sugar levels and end of the day tiredness makes for a deadly cocktail. We’re all ready to kill one another by 6pm.
So about three weeks ago, I decided something had to change. Or I risk going stir crazy living every single day – for the rest of my life or until the kids left home – like that.
After picking the kids up from school, we normally get home at about 4.30pm or 5pm. Cooking takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s far too long. So what’s the answer? I need a fuss-free hot and nutritious meal. Essentially, a homemade version of a M&S microwavable meal.
Every Friday, I’d write down the menu for the next week. Menu is stuck on the fridge door for easy reference. Buy the ingredients over the weekend. Tea Mondays to Fridays is prepared during my lunch hour – while cooking, I’d eat lunch. Schedule gets adapted on days when I’m out at meetings instead of working in the studio. I roll in with the kids at 5pm, bung dish in the oven and, hey presto, piping hot homemade tea dished up in 30 minutes. No tears, no tantrums, and mum’s not turned into an alcoholic.
A clinical and military operation with no room for spontaneity, you say? Well, I’d rather a peaceful evening at the end of a day at work, thank you very much.
For menu inspiration, I have several trusty companions. Namely, the River Cottage Family Cookbook, River Cottage Everyday and Breakfast, Lunch and Tea. Although I do make minor revisions to most of the recipes to suit whatever time I have or what’s in the cupboard.
If you’re interested, stay tuned over the next few weeks as I’ll be sharing these quick and easy recipes.
Or if you have a recipe to share, I’d love to hear from you too. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to post a comment.