Now, the ingredients to prepare a week's dinner are all set. The next step is the implementation. And as the saying goes, the devil lies in the implementation.
Everyone has 24 hours a day. In addition, this is a zero-sum game - one hour spent in cooking will mean one hour less for sleep. And trust me, a working mother needs adequate rest and her beauty sleep.
So how can we find time to cook? The answer lies in delegation. That's why most working mothers have maids. But what if you are like me, with no maid. Well, the party to delegate the task to does not necessarily need to be a person. Read: a human being. It can be a machine.
Automation is the key
In fact, we are very blessed to be living in the 21st century surrounded by the many smart gadgets. My best friends in the kitchen include the smart microwave ocean which also doubles up as a conventional oven, the latest rice cooker with the timer and my washing machine also with timer function.
Every morning, I will wake up half an hour earlier. Yes, half an hour is all I need to fix a nutricious dinner. I will use the defrost function in my microwave oven to thraw a pack of minced meat and fish. In the meantime, I will be washing the rice, setting the rice cooker on automatic mode and I am assured of piping hot rice in the evening.
In a few quick minutes, the minced meat and fish are ready for seasoning. Here, my previously fried golden garlic bits will make their presence felt in the meal. Instead of cornstarch which is supposed to make the minced meat stick together, I beat an egg together with some soy sauce and pepper. After mixing them with the minced meat, I will lay the fish fillet to one side. A slice tomato will be laid on to lend a piquant taste in the dish.
Next, I just put the dish into my multi-purpose microwave oven, this time round setting it to the conventional oven mode and set the timer to cook the food. For my oven, it will take about 25 minutes.
In the meantime, I wake my children up and have our breakfast. Once breakfast is done, the food is done too. I will just leave it in the oven for consumption in the evening. To have a "different" dish each evening, I will vary the fish fillet and at times, the sauce for the baking.
Of course, Aileen's Kitchen is closed during the weekend.
So, this much is for the dinner fixing part. There are so many other things which a working mother has to see to. One of which is doing the laundry, ironing clothes, tidying up the house, sweeping and mopping chores and the list goes on.
For me, I have a priority list on what is the most important and try to find pockets of time to do so. Remember in my first post on this subject, I have written that a little planning goes a long way. Same here, if we want to save time, we have to work smart. For example, I will try to stock easy care and maintenance working attires. As far as possible, they should go into the washing machine. Hand-wash pieces are frowned upon. For my boy's uniform which I have no control over the type and make, I will carefully roll up them together with clothes which crease easily and stuff them in the laundry bag. And if possible, I will also try to iron them when they are slightly damp - i.e. after their spin in the washing machine.
For my less critical chore such as cleaning the house, I will usually do it during the weekend. At times, I may even skip doing it due to time constraint.
So this is it.
My secrets are simple. I shall use the acromyn PAT to sum it up.
P-lan in advance. For example, I will buy a weeks' worth of meat and fish one week earlier. Where possible, I will also prepare in advance as in the case of frying garlic bits and saving it up for future use.
A- utomation is the key. The modern technology is our best friends.
T- ime management and have a priority list on what to do first.
I know it is not easy being a working mother but as what Friedrich Nietzsche said "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". I think it also makes us smarter. Let us give ourselves a pat on our back on a job well done.