As evidenced by the many silent days in this space, I am not always inspired or excited to cook. In years past I cooked for leisure: loving the process of making things off the top of my head, using what happens to be lying around the kitchen or garden, happy accidents done without a formal recipe. Shopping is a task from which no pleasure is derived; meal planning is sadly neglected. Gradually a conversation has emerged with Nic about simplifying/minimizing our "consumption," & it addresses the crux of my struggle. Daily bread vs. my idols of order, plenty & peace.
With curious toes toddling underfoot, I tend to feel entitled to indulge myself in restful, enjoyable activities that do not serve the family long-term. Realistically, we would all rest & enjoy more time together by planning ahead, shopping (from CSA for in season produce & from farms for meat) & cooking in bulk. The goal is to make the meat stretch further, to heat the kitchen up less often & to open up quality family time in the evenings without emergency grocery runs or eating out. Alas, I have yet to set aside a day or even weekend of cooking in large batches & freezing the cooked/spiced meat, soups & sauces.
Three resources are making that goal more achievable. Two books & a blog I would recommend to help in crunching the numbers of what to prep ahead of time. Melissa's post on Prepping for Bulk Cooking (among much other good kitchen advice if you browse a bit) is one to keep in your pocket, as she starts with real ingredients rather than prepackaged stuff. Mad Hungry (via sister-in-law) & The Homemade Pantry (via the library) are the pages lying open on our table this month.
In retrospect, I remember my aunt cooking all their food once a week (Sunday afternoon & evening) so they could eat homemade gourmet while keeping a busy schedule of two full-time career parents & two active kids. Had I understood better, I would have asked for her notes rather than starting from scratch 10-15 years later. If only efficiency were my strong suit.