I read an article recently about the relative value people place on time versus money. It talked about a research study where they had two lemonade stands, one telling people to "spend a little time and have a lemonade" and the other telling people to "spend a little money and have a lemonade".
Which would you pick?
Well, in the study more people bought a lemonade when it was time they were thinking about. And they were willing to give more money for the same lemonade. I think I would've chosen the same ... I've always got people telling me to spend money, but what I often need is someone to tell me - hey, take some time out. Enjoy this moment.
This got me thinking ... why are we more likely to make time for TV shows than preparing family dinners? I know, it's because we're tired after a long day at work ... and the kids are bored and hungry ... and so on ... But shouldn't food be a priority? Food that goes into every cell in our body ... that affects our moods and the way we think ... that we need to survive ... (and even Lost is debatable as necessary to survival)
So - here it is -
take. some. time. out.
Here's my recipe for making time for food:
1. Involve the family
Personally, I like the idea of my daughter touching real fresh fruit and vegetables before they're peeled or boiled or whatever, or learning how to make spaghetti or crack eggs. Isn't real life better than watching Dora the Explorer for an hour? If she learns about food, and where it comes from, and what you do with it, won't that teach her better eating habits than if she sees food coming out of packets all the time? And won't cooking foster her senses of independence and creativity?
I know, from personal experience, that cooking takes longer when my 2 1/2 year old is helping me. But she's happy, and we're doing something together ...
Making food is a great time to zone out. You know all those times you feel worried or stressed or overworked or financially drained or underappreciated or (insert your usual stress here) ? And your head is filled with negative thoughts that won't go away?
Slow down. Chop vegetables. Roll pasta. Knead dough. Think little, if at all.
This isn't time-wasting - it's good for you to clear your head of all the crap once in awhile. You'll feel better, guarantee it.
3. Be efficient
I enjoy going to the farmer's market to buy what's in season ... it's kind of a family tradition. But it's probably more efficient for me to get my box of fruit and veggies delivered direct once every two weeks (which I do), full of all the stuff that's on the go at the moment.
It's cheaper if you plan meals around what's in season, and abundant. But, if you want to make more time for good food, you might find it easier to think ahead. What are you going to do with that kilo of beets? Or the bag of apples? What can you cook ahead on Sunday that you can eat during the week, or freeze? Can you make extra portions and trade dinner nights with friends (or freeze them? or keep for lunch?)
If you think, and plan, you'll also waste less food (which is a good thing!)
A few key pieces of equipment can help with efficiency, too. Slow cookers (or crockpots) are fantastic - for such a small amount of work you get to come home from work to an amazing stew or soup or sauce ... And pressure cookers will cook things sooooo fast. Even beans, which can take ages (!!) I got mine at the op-shop for $15, and it's already paid for itself!
So, here's to the home-cooked family dinner. And making time.