Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Household Routines

One of my favourite books (well, series of books really) when I was younger was Little House on the Prairie. I still have the set now, for those times when a comfort read is the order of the day. In one of the early books, Laura describes the rhythm of life in the little log cabin which she lived in with her Ma, Pa, and sister Mary:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

The lovely Alison over at has often blogged about her housekeeping rhythms and rituals, and I love to read about them. I have been trying to get into some rhythms and patterns over here in our dear little flat, particularly with our shopping and cooking.

You see, dear Carl works up in London and is not often home before 7:30pm in the evening, and I am working quite long hours commuting to my own little library- add into the mix that I don't drive, and you have a little housekeeping challenge. How to keep on top of the shopping without using up too much of our precious puttering time?

I did go through a period of doing our grocery shopping online, but I always felt vaguely irritated by it...I still had to do a menu plan, write out a shopping list and sit down to order it, as well as try and book a delivery slot.

Well, no more! We have been changing our eating habits slowly over the last few months, and all of a sudden, everything has come together. We have always taken the view that we would rather eat a little bit of meat that has lived a good life than a lot of cheap nasty meat, and gradually, gradually, we have got to the point where we are eating very little. I have found a fantastic WI market near where I work, and there is also a Co-Op right next door, a prime location for lunch hour shopping.

So now the shopping-and-cooking rhythm is like this. Once a month, I do a big online shop for staple provisions- everything from loo roll to tinned tomatoes, risotto rice to stock cubes. Then, each week, I pick some dishes to make- 2 vegetable soups (made in my wonderful vitamix machine) 2 vegetarian dishes, 2 fish dishes, and 1 meat dish. I then go to the WI market and the Co-Op to buy perishables such as milk and eggs, and any ingredients that I need for my weekly meal plan.

I am making a lot of things which really are more delicious than they sound- smoked mackerel pate, lentil dahl and veggie curry- and saving leftovers in the freezer. I have taken to making batches of spelt-and-pear muffins, and homemade yoghurt too. Later today, I am going to try my hand at home made hoummous later!

One of my favourite domestic pleasures is my monthly turn out of the fridge, freezer, dry goods cupboard and provisions cupboard. I like to make a list to see just what I have got, and then sit down to make my big once-a-month-shopping-delivery-list. I have been doing that today, and when it is all done, and the monthly shop delivered and put away, I always have a glow of domestic bliss about me!

Another thing that I like very much to do in the kitchen is to decant nearly everything into pretty storage jars. I have those hexagonal glass jars with screw on lids for my various kinds of flour, and a kilner jar of vanilla sugar. There is a beautiful bulbous jar for tea bags which somehow always reminds me of the Taj Mahal, and a little vintage tea caddy for my herbal tea. Somehow everything looks more organized once it is decanted! One little project that I do have in mind for future days is to find a source of pretty spice jars, and have a good turn out of my spice cupboard. At the moment they are all of a hodge-podge of different style of jars, depending on if I have bought Schwarz or the shop's own brand, and even a few plastic bags where I have bought them from the market. Most of them have nasty plastic lids, and I would so like a nice set that matches. I forsee a little internet shopping in my future!

I really like how this new little domestic routine feels like it has 'clicked' for me. I feel like it is my routine...perhaps that is why it is so satisfying? Anyway, I must away to my kitchen and start decanting, for the monthly shop has just arrived!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been putting grocery staples into glass jars lately too! If we buy something that comes in a big glass jar, I save it, peel off the label & wash it out, and have been putting other things like flour and sugar, etc. in it. While our pantry isn't organized yet, I look forward to the day when EVERYTHING is in glass jars, and it all looks so much nicer and orderly!

Chris in Canada