30 Minute (of Peace & Quiet) Meatloaf & Potatoes

I spend a lot of time thinking about feeding my family. What are meals that they all will eat-- and enjoy. When can I squeeze in a trip to the grocery store? What items do I already have in my pantry/ fridge that I can use to pull a meal together with? What is something new? Have I made their favorites lately? So much to consider!

Lately, I have been thinking about one thing in particular. How can I cook for my family, while I'm doing my other jobs/ staying sane/ and find time to ENJOY my meal prepping. Is it possible to do it all? 

Yesterday, an article was published that I was interviewed for. The article is called How Cooking Dinner Helps You Bounce Back From a Tough Day. I shared it with some friends and really thought it was a great piece. The writer made some really fascinating connections and took a lot into consideration. I was feeling pretty darn good to be a part of something like this. Then someone burst my bubble. She commented on the piece and said something like "yeah, cooking with two toddlers is just so relaxing." I felt really bad. I had just been there. I am kind of still there. Did I just make it sound too easy and simple? That was not what I was going for. We can't do it all. Not any of us. It is not easy. And certainly cooking a family meal every day just isn't possible in my world either. BUT.... I can offer some tips on how to try and make it happen from time to time... I started a mental list. Here it is:

1. Keep it SIMPLE. No eight course tasting menus for this Mom. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it. Simple + Easy = Success. Here is what I mean by simple. I'm driving home yesterday after work. My wonderful/ amazing/ superman of a husband had already picked the kids up from school. My plan for dinner that night was to make some macaroni and cheese. I was thinking about dinner the next night. Shabbat dinner when my whole family comes over. I had clients scheduled the next morning, mom duties, shopping to do and maaaaybeee even a little time for myself. So I wanted to make dinner for tonight, last night. It was a cold and rainy, miserable day, so I was thinking comfort food. Meatballs, mashed potatoes and roasted veggies. Well, I got home and sushi and pizza had already been purchased. (no judging :) So I was free to get cooking for the next night. The kids were fed and happy. I had requested 30 minutes of quiet so I could get this meal going. To my surprise, my kids listened. They were playing in the basement and actually left me to cook. I quickly rethought the meatballs. No time to make sauce, then roll the meat. I regrouped and the meatballs turned into meatloaf. Faster, less labor involved. Check. I moved on to my mashed potatoes and onions. 

2. Be Flexible. So what the meatballs didn't happen. I'll get to them another night. Instead of beating myself up for not being able to make my original plan, I was just happy that something was made. 

3. Know when to call it quits. I had almost thirty full, glorious minutes of quiet. I was mixing and chopping to my hearts content when the kids called up (okay, honestly, for the 3rd time) that they had prepared a show and wanted to perform for us. I checked the boiling potatoes one last time and left them to simmer away while I watched the show. I knew I could finish the mashing and mixing later. I was 90% of the way there. I'll call that a win. 

The show the kids prepared lasted all of two minutes. They were thrilled we came and watched, we applauded like it was Broadway and then they allowed me to return t the kitchen. The potatoes were done by now and I drained them, mashed them, added the sautéed onions and non dairy cream. I left them to cool so I could refrigerate them until the next day. My meal was made. All I have to do tonight is bake and serve! It feels great knowing that it's all ready and waiting for me. 

My hope is that everyone will eat and enjoy. No one will miss the meatballs and no one will care that last night's dinner was sushi and pizza. I'm taking this one as a win!