Cooking from Scratch: 4 Moms, 35 Kids

Homemade tortilla recipe at bottom of post.

This week the  4 Moms are talking about cooking from scratch, what we make and how we fit it into our busy days.  VisitLife in a Shoe, Smockity Frocks and The Common Room to get their perspectives.

This is a huge topic, so I’ve chosen to focus on how we keep up with making staple items from scratch.   The short answer to that is that we don’t, but we’re working on it.  Thank you to those who pitched in yesterday with ideas on how to get it all done.

Three ways to schedule ‘from scratch’ cooking

Have a scheduled day to make each item

Anita and Dawna both have a certain day that they make certain things, bread on Monday, yogurt and buttermilk on Tuesday, etc.   You simply determine how much of a certain item that you will need for the week and make your batches accordingly.

Pros:

  • it gets done regularly
  • it will fit into a regular day without special scheduling
  • you know what needs to be done and when it will happen
  • if you’re having muffins for breakfast anyway, there is very little extra effort to make a double ( or triple) batch

Cons:

  • you have to clean up a mess each day that you have scheduled to make something (granola is the worst)
  • if you get off schedule or skip a day …  (I know YOU wouldn’t do that, but me?  :) )

Set aside a full day to do all of your ‘from scratch’ cooking

Abba12 and Elizabeth both suggest setting aside one day to get it all done.  Abba12 does this shortly after her bi-monthly shopping trip and Elizabeth has all of the children pitch in.

Pros:

  • everyone working together
  • if you did it after your shopping day you could do other prep work like chopping raw veggies for snacks, preparing and freezing things that you bought in bulk or found for a good price (thanks Abba12)
  • doing it just after shopping means that you will probably have all of the ingredients that you need
  • only one huge mess to clean up

Cons:

  • a whole day in the kitchen (or a half day in the kitchen)
  • if you have a large family you would probably have to do this every week, right?

Make it as you go

This is what I did when we had all young children.  (Now, I’ve always had a regular schedule for making bread.  It used to be a large batch once a week, now it’s a large batch three times a week.)  I simply looked at my menu plan for the week and decided planned from there when I would make cottage cheese for the lasagna or tortillas for the enchiladas.  If possible I simply got into the kitchen each morning and made all of the  ‘from scratch’ staples that I would need for dinner that night.  This is not the most efficient system, but it worked for me when I didn’t have time to think of something better.

Pros:

  • Simple to implement
  • you have what you need, when you need it
  • if you’re making  just what you’re going to need that week you have no waste
  • no extra storage space required

Cons:

  • not very efficient
  • if you misjudge on time or something comes up you’re stuck trying to figure out a substitute or eating LATE

More tips for ‘from scratch’ cooking

Invest in “kitchen servants”, a wheat grinder, high quality mixer and crock pot among others.  A Bosch Universal Plus Mixer is a wonderful investment, we can mix 5 loaves of whole wheat bread at one time and our children are able to begin bread making when they are around 9 years old.  (It does a lot more than bread) (Thanks Tristan and  Annie)

Use a checklist to keep track of what needs to be made.  I can see combining this with having a day (or two) set aside each week for some extra kitchen work.  You could check your list and see what needs to be done and then on the assigned day or two, you would tackle the necessary tasks.  (Thanks Meagan)

Make like things and do similar tasks at the same time. Make loaves of bread, pizza crusts, sweet rolls, etc. all at the same time.  Make granola bars while your working on granola.  When you are browning ground beef fore dinner, brown extra to put in the freezer or use in another meal.

Have your big kids help. I love the idea of giving my kids ownership of a specific food item.  Our 9 year old always gets to take over the bread making for the family (no small responsibility with how much bread we eat).  My plan is to allow our 6 year old to begin making all of our salad dressings. (have any recipes that are quick, easy, healthy and yummy that you’d like to share?)  Oh Emily, your ‘big kids’ magically appear after you’ve put in your allotted time with those little ones.  It’ll happen sooner than you think, so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Schedule extra time for dinner preparation. When all of our children were little I simply got into the kitchen fairly early each evening to prepare dinner.  This allowed me to have additional time to make biscuits, cornbread, cottage cheese or other ‘from scratch’ items that I would need for dinner that evening.

Do what you can, then move on and let go of the rest.  We can’t do it all, all the time.  So make a plan and when the kids get sick or you’re in the first trimester of a pregnancy, let it go.  Feeding your kids store bought bread or hamburger helper doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  If it is the best way for you to spend time investing in them, then it’s one of the best investments you can make.  (Thanks Emily)

Veronica’s Authentic Tortillas

Anyway, all this to say, with the recipe I use (from generations of tortilla makers), I successfully substitute 1/2 of the white flour with ww flour and they still come out beautifully.

2c. flour (can substitute 1c. ww)
1tsp. salt
1tsp. baking powder
1Tbsp vegetable shortening
water

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Add shortening and mix with hand forming little “peas”. Add water slowly until it forms a soft dough. Pinch off 12 balls and roll on a floured surface. Heat on cast iron griddle.

What is important, that I don’t think most people realize, is what you do with the tortilla after it comes off the griddle. You immediately put it in a kitchen towel wrapped up. Once the next one is done, put it in with the first one, and wrap it up again. Continue in this manner with the rest of the tortillas. The kitchen towel keeps the tortillas warm and the just the right amount of heat and moisture stays in to make the tortillas oh so soft, flexible, and utterly delightful.

Thank you Veronica!  More recipes on my recipe page.

Be sure to check out Life in a Shoe, Smockity Frocks and The Common Room to see how other moms of many take on cooking from scratch.

More 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage posts.

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29 Responses to Cooking from Scratch: 4 Moms, 35 Kids
  1. Ashley Stubbs
    April 15, 2010 | 10:53 am

    Thanks Kimberly. I always enjoy reading your blog. I am not a scheduler by nature, but have a husband who is… so I’m trying :) I’m also seeing the neccesity more with each kid and adding homeschooling. As far as homemade cooking I’m definitely still in the make it as you go stage for now, but I’m seeing the need to do more ahead of time as our life is getting busier.

    I wanted to share a delicious honey mustard dressing recipe that is easy and also uses plain yogurt, so might work well for you guys. It is great for salads or with chicken.

    3/4 cup plain yogurt
    1/4 cup mayo (I have substitued all yogurt and it is still good)
    2 T Dijon mustard (plain is fine too if that’s what you have)
    2 T coarse grain mustard (again plain mustard works ok too)
    1/4 cup honey
    1 T cider vinegar
    1/8 tsp ground red pepper

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Ashley- thanks for this recipe. Honey Mustard is one of our favorites, so this is a must try.

    [Reply]

  2. Deb
    April 15, 2010 | 1:53 pm

    Hi – I was wondering if the tortillas freeze well? Is there a special method for storing them in the freezer – waxed paper in between or anything? Also, I am assuming that the cast iron griddle is dry – no oil or anything?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, the cast iron is dry.

    I would think they would freeze fine, but haven’t done that. I would experiment with the freezing because my guess would be that you wouldn’t need anything between, but I’d hate to have you waste a whole batch.

    If you find out about freezing before me, will you let me know??

    [Reply]

    Melissa Reply:

    Yes they can be frozen easily, no wax paper needed. Thawing is the tricky part. They can’t be thawed quickly (like in the microwave) because they turn really chewy. Hope this helps.

    [Reply]

  3. Rachel
    April 15, 2010 | 3:20 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I know that this would be a great activity for our family to implement.

    Blessings to you!

    [Reply]

  4. Kelly
    April 15, 2010 | 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the various ideas of getting the scratch cooking done. I think I’m using a haphazard mish-mash of all of these, but will definitely be pondering some of your ideas in the near future.

    Oh, and seriously? You can MAKE cottage cheese? I had no idea!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes about making cottage cheese. This was back in our ‘poor’ days and we made it with powdered milk. I wouldn’t recommend it plain, but perfect to use in recipes.

    I’ll be posting the recipe because there has been some interest in that.

    [Reply]

  5. CookieMonsterKatrina
    April 15, 2010 | 4:11 pm

    Wow, so much to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

  6. Kathy
    April 16, 2010 | 10:14 am

    Thanks for the great tips! How do you make cottage cheese?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Will post in the next few days!! :) It is one of the recipes from our ‘poor’ days and isn’t great for eating plain, but wonderful for using in recipes.

    [Reply]

  7. Joy
    April 16, 2010 | 12:40 pm

    You’ve been nominated, friend!
    http://girlygirlgiveaways.blogspot.com/2010/04/were-kreativ-blog.html

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you, Joy!

    [Reply]

  8. Lorie
    April 16, 2010 | 1:32 pm

    I just want to say that I’m loving this series. Thanks for all the insight from you & the other moms.

    [Reply]

  9. Alene
    April 18, 2010 | 9:37 am

    Praying for you, Kimberly, and your family. Don’t know what 3 days of silence means, but the Father knows! You are being held before the throne of Grace.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for your sweet comment. I’m VERY tired at this point in my pregnancy and that combined with a busy company schedule, preparing for a new school year and regular duties, blogging time is taking a huge hit.

    You’ll probably see things continue to stay slow for a while, baby is due July 11. :)

    Thank you for your prayers!

    [Reply]

  10. AllieZirkle
    April 19, 2010 | 5:45 pm

    Can you share your cottage cheese recipe?? I’d LOVE it!

    Allie

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes! I will plan to post it this week.

    [Reply]

  11. Tina
    April 20, 2010 | 3:49 am

    Thankyou for the tips and recipes. Could you please give us an example of your shopping list?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Tina! Our current shopping lists contain mostly breakfast and lunch foods since we freezer cook for most dinners.

    We do purchase a lot of things in bulk like rice, beans, grains, honey, etc. and we purchase all of our beef from a friend who raises cows, so much of what we eat never shows up on a grocery list.

    I’m not sure that is at all helpful. If you want our current shopping list that excludes most of our dinner main dishes I could give you that, but I’m not sure that is what you are looking for. Just let me know!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh forgot to say, I do buy a lot of frozen veggies for dinners!

    [Reply]

  12. Kirsten
    December 8, 2011 | 1:54 am

    Thought I would share a link to my new favorite salad…easy, healthy and delicious :)

    http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-feta-and-walnut-salad-59829

    [Reply]

  13. meloni cutberth
    March 16, 2012 | 8:49 pm

    I’m coming into this REALLY late but since I only have internet on my phone (not a smart phone) I can’t find how to say this anywhere else. long story-short, after praying long and hard for wisdom to control our outrageously angry and disobedient 12yo son, God revealed to me that he has food allergies!! NEVER crossed my mind! now we are doing our best to eliminate mostly artificial colorings but all additives. just learning this and after only 4 or 5 days, we have seen a drastic improvement!!!! Praise the LORD!!!! tho he is nowhere close to “perfect” he is soooo much better!! I would love to get a thread going on this subject and hopefully get lots more people interested in eating this way. it doesnt seem to be as expensive as I thought it would be and having 8 kids, I am all about low cost food. but some things are worth paying more. what do you think??

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Meloni.

    I hope that you are continuing to see progress with your son. I absolutely agree that some things are worth the cost.

    For healthy eating, we’ve really enjoyed Katie’s blog Kitchen Stewardship and GNOWFGLINS.

    GNOWFGLINS offers weekly menu plans that include only whole foods, traditionally prepared. It makes cooking everything from scratch, including sour dough, soaking grains and fermented foods (vital for proper digestion) much easier.

    Blessings.

    [Reply]

  14. Katie
    March 16, 2012 | 8:56 pm

    Hi! I have a question about making tortillas. We have a tortilla press and a great all ww recipe, but I have a hard time actually making them because it takes so long and we never have enough leftover to freeze! (By the way, freezing them in a ziploc without wax paper works just fine…just make sure they are completely cool first or they might stick together). So I find myself just avoiding meals that require tortillas. When you use your griddle, can you do more than one at a time or does it take you forever to make tortilla too? :)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Katie.

    It still takes a good amount of time to make tortillas, but we have two cast iron griddles, each one fits over two eyes of the stove, so we can cook about 8-12 tortillas at one time.

    We set up an assembly line when we’re making flour tortillas (corn tortillas are a little easier to make as they press beautifully with little effort in the press). One person makes the dough into balls, another person works the press, another person uses a rolling pin to press the tortillas flatter than they get in the press. Once we have all of them shaped one of those people starts putting them all on the griddle, they cook up very quickly.

    We’ve just enjoyed the taste and cost savings of homemade tortillas that it’s worth it to us, but I completely understand avoiding making them. It does take time and makes a big mess, at least in our kitchen. :)

    [Reply]

  15. Isabell
    July 7, 2013 | 2:46 am

    Hi, thank you for sharing the tortilla recipe! I never dared to make them, but we tried your recipe yesterday and they were just delicious. My daughter (4 years) loved to help and wanted to eat them today again. I’m very grateful for this, as bought tortillas cost a little fortune were I live. We kept the rest in tupper… and they were still nice flexible the next day.

    [Reply]

  16. Kelle
    February 22, 2014 | 8:18 pm

    Hi, just curious if I can substitute anything else in place of the vegetable shortening? Can I use unsalted butter, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, or coconut oil? This is what I have in my pantry.:) Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Annie Reply:

    I make my tortillas with coconut oil. They are delicious!

    [Reply]

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