Working dinner ladies: 9th-15th June

posted Jun 19, 2012, 12:01 PM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Jun 19, 2012, 12:06 PM ]
On Wednesday I had four cups of tea and coffee. And finished them. While they were still hot.  This is because I had re-entered that peculiar place known as "work", where one can make a hot beverage and drink it at the magical moment which lies between scalding and slightly tepid.  I try to drink hot cups of tea and coffee at home, but my timing is terrible. I usually wait until all the chores are done, until the children are playing peacefully or are asleep.  And then I sit down.  And just as my breathing slows and I am about to take a slurp, the children wake up or start arguing.  On other days, I anticipate this and make the hot drink while I am still doing my chores, but leave the cup in the kitchen while I am folding the clothes in bedroom, and before I know it I have missed the moment.

Several people had helped make this new found luxury possible. Mrs Doubtfire had taken on the lion's share of cooking and childcare on Sunday, with me only having to cook the macaroni cheese and pavlova so that I could plan my week's work and write the presentation I was giving on Friday.  On the morning itself, Nanny Poppins arrived bright and breezy at an hour that is too early to contemplate and I left the children (and Mrs Doubtfire) in her more than capable hands.  The children too, despite being up several times in the night, perhaps sensing something in the air, were biddable, encouraging and even helped me organise my work 'costume'.  And this might be a good opportunity to mention that Maths Geek is very keen to rename his younger brother. Who, he points out, is officially no longer naughty, having changed personality on his 4th birthday, and should now be known as The Noble Knight. 
People often ask me how I manage to do Four and a half bellies with three small children and I say it depends on what you call Four and a half bellies.  I squeeze the shopping and cooking parts into the normal run of every day life, like any other Dinner Lady, snatching a half hour here or there to soak chickpeas, chop onions or check out the contents of the fridge. But it is the finding out about food systems and the writing up of the blog that takes such a long time. In the early days I had the luxury of being able to write pretty much whenever I wanted as Princess Baby slept so much in the day.  And when she was awake, she was happy to lie on a rug next to me as we gurgled at each other.  I know I was lucky. More recently, it has become more difficult to fit in, and so I have been treating the writing part of the project like I would a paid job.  I have been very grateful for Nanny Poppins who has been looking after the children for three half days a week in the last couple of months, getting to know how we work as a family.  She has given me much needed time to read and write. And I have spent many evenings, when all the chores are finally done, writing up recipes and weekly menus.   

When my friends and family ask me how I will manage to continue to write when I am back in paid employment I don't say anything, because inside I am wondering. I don't know.  But this week gave me a sneaky preview.  Like all working Dinner Ladies, culinary survival will depend largely on my ability (or inability) to juggle multiple roles, manage time efficiently and overcome extreme fatigue. As I am in "back to work mode" I have started a list of what I need to do in order to achieve this. I suspect this list is a work in progress rather than a fait accompli:

Waste not want not

rotten or gone off - 3 slices bread

left on our plates - 1 tbsp PB's lunch

left overs I have forgotten to use up - 1 bowl couscous and 2 broccoli florets from ages ago.  

I am now going on a bread-end mission. We keep cutting into new loaves of bread when there is a small end piece left and this is what is contributing to all this bread waste: I find so many green and furry end slices in the bread bin. I am now encouraging us all to enjoy end pieces, toasted, for breakfast. No one seems to be objecting so far. 


Carry forward:        £185.32
Local supermarket     £31.04
Vegetable box         £21.25
Supermarket           £17.54  
Total June so far     £255.15