Ever since I read the Harry Potter series, I've wanted a house elf. A helpful, eager-to-please addition to my family who would happily cook, clean, pick up and organize scattered toys and my office mess, and solve my computer problems when my wireless is being uncooperative or I see that circle spinning endlessly on my Mac. Wouldn't that be so incredible? Dobby: A cook/housekeeper/organizer/Apple genius all rolled into one small creature who would be overjoyed at sleeping on a shelf in the kitchen cupboard. A girl can dream, right?
Since the only magic at my disposal is the kind created when I'm in coaching sessions and massage sessions, I have discovered another way to make my life easier and, like a house elf, it lives in my kitchen: my crock pot.
I love to cook when I have the time but, like you, with a whole lot of everything on my plate, time is a precious commodity. In my life coach training with the amazing author, columnist and life coach Martha Beck, I learned a time and stress management tool called the 4Bs. The 4Bs stand for bag, buy/barter, better, and batch. Using the 4Bs helps to turn an unwanted task into a tastier project. Here's how you can use the 4Bs to find the easy way with meal preparation.
Bag Can you just let go of meal preparation and not feed your family? Nope, sorry. However, bagging a task that you don't want to do is a great option for other responsibilities. For example, do you have to go to a certain social event that you're dreading for one reason or another? What would happen if you just said no thank you and did what you really want to do, like take a nap?
Buy/Barter Can you purchase prepared meals either at restaurants or the supermarket? Absolutely! Can you trade meal preparation with a neighbor so that you don't have to cook as often? Great idea!
Better If you don't like to prepare meals, don't have the budget to buy from restaurants, and don't have a willing friend with whom you can trade, can you combine cooking with an activity that you do enjoy? While I'm in the kitchen, I often listen to KQED radio or to my favorite station on Pandora. Or you could give yourself a special treat once you're finished with your kitchen duty for the day - like a few minutes on the couch with a magazine.
Batch With cooking, this is my favorite of the 4Bs to use. Once or twice a week, I make a big meal in the crock pot and freeze half of it to defrost later. I think of it as taking care of Future Me so that when I have a busy week, like this month when I'll be testing for my coaching certification, I can pull a container of soup, chili, or chicken out of the freezer in the morning and - ta da! - dinner is done.
Go to the Touch Blue Sky website to find a few of my favorite crock pot recipes. I picked three recipes to start that require very little preparation, maybe a little chopping here or there. Once you throw the ingredients in the crock pot, press a few buttons and wait a few hours, dinner is done. I must admit that my slow cooker is my favorite tool in the house. Now, if only it could organize Lego's.
Get more recipes by joining The Well-Crafted Moms Club on Facebook! I post a simple recipe every Monday for moms in the club. Click here to join.
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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