Homemade tortilla recipe at bottom of post.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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. baking powder
1Tbsp vegetable shortening
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.
More 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage posts.