Back to Porridge

is my Father’s saying about returning to the daily grind of work. During the Summer holidays, he would happily eat corn flakes but once it was time to return to work in Autumn, out would come the porridge oats and into the saucepan they would go the night before, to be cooked with water and a pinch of salt. The phrase has been going round and round in my head all week as I returned to work after the Christmas break. (I hesitate to call it Summer holidays – given the weather we’ve had recently).

It’s been a really really long week! Even after just 3 weeks the alarm going off at 7am every morning was an awful shock, as was spending hours at my computer. Knowing I’d be tired, I thought I’d get lunches and some dinners prepped on Sunday – pasta sauce, Thai chicken curry and Bean burgers. Here’s where I hit a few snags.

First, the pasta sauce I make is based on a pizza express recipe and uses tomato paste. I had none and as I’ve only seen it in a tube, a plastic yoghurt style pot or a can, it meant a bit of a tweaking of the recipe. As I also used fresh tomatoes, it turned out a lot runnier than usual. Edible but not what I’m used to. If you’re wondering what the problem with canned tomato paste is, it tuns out that all our tins/cans are coated with plastic internally. I only discovered that a few days into my challenge and have had to rethink a few things already. I have subsequently discovered that Countdown Home Brand and Leggos tomato paste comes in a glass jar so next time should be easier.

Second, my kumara and bean burger uses Cannellini beans. I thought I still had two tins of them in stock but no. So I had to use Red kidney beans.  They look a bit odd and tasted nice but not quite right.  I have added dried beans to the shopping list for next trip to bulk bin shopping. (Kumara is the Maori word for sweet potatoes and I find the orange variety works best in this recipe)

Third, the chicken curry. I had checked I had coconut milk left but forgot about the kaffir lime leaves. These only seem to be available in the supermarket in plastic containers or bags so the chicken just got roasted and eaten for dinner. I mentioned this grumble to friends later in the week and they whipped out their jar of chopped kaffir lime leavesValcom-Kaffir-Lime-Leaves-100g.jpg

Another problem solved. Guess what’s on the menu this week?

Fourth  – breakfast. Sometimes, I confess,  breakfast consists of a date and caramel scone bought en route to work. The scone isn’t a problem but the butter in a plastic single serve container and the plastic knife they add to the paper bag are. I have always asked for ‘no knife please; but it doesn’t always sink in and I have to have butter on my scone. So there’s another unhealthy habit stricken from my diet….unless I remember to cut a little bit of butter and bring it with me!

Fifth – I went to a yoga class after work one day and then had to go for a walk to get my 10,000 steps so that my Fitbit wouldn’t tell me off. This took me by the library, so by the time I got home it was after 8pm. There was no option of takeway or ready made meals or a bowl of cereal and my heart sank at the thought of cooking at that hour. Luckily I’d forgotten I had leftovers from the night before and I didn’t go hungry.

My last hiccup happened this morning. I had no milk and it was blowing a gale and pouring rain outside. I’d had a very busy day yesterday and the thought of driving along the coast to get more milk powder before having a coffee made me want to cry. rain

The supermarket is only a few minutes away and I argued that it would be stupid to drive in a gale. But when I put my coat on, I couldn’t do it and found myself in the car driving to get some powdered milk. It was a pretty miserable day but wind wasn’t all that bad.

The reason I’d run out of milk was that I had to do some baking on Friday night and was away all day Saturday so had no chance to get more.  Baking with the powdered milk seems to work fine. I’d also used fresh plums instead of tinned for the first time and was quite pleased at the result. cake

So all in all, I’ve learnt

a) Plan meals for week in advance

b) Check the cupboard for ingredients, especially those you can’t just pick up in the supermarket and don’t wait until you’ve run out before replenishing.

c) When you can’t get something, tell/ask people. Often they’ll have a solution

d) Make sure there’s a couple of pre made meals in the freezer or left overs that are quick to reheat for nights when I’ve something on after work.

e) Go back to porridge for breakfast and skip the scones. (with rolled oats and a microwave, this is a couple of minutes prep rather than half an hour the night before.)

And as it’s a long weekend, I get an extra day to plan and prep and then it’s only a four day week at work next week.

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