As any enthusiastic cook who has children at home will know, finding the time to actually create any meals beyond the bog standard can be quite tricky. With my first born, he would happily sit playing with toys whilst I chopped and cooked away, but now having two makes it a whole different ball game. My cooking has to be done while child number 2 is asleep - which coincides with when child 1 has returned from nursery, so which means he is either playing on his own with no 1 on 1 time with me or plonked in front of the telly. I thought that not working would give me more time to create lavish meals but the time I actually get to do this means that something else important has to give.
So I was super happy when approached at the school gates a few months ago by another mum who had started up her own business: 2.5hrs in a morning where your child is looked after whilst you prepare 3 main meals to take home for you and your husband, all done within nursery hours and no cleaning up to do after all the cooking. No-one ignored. And some uninterrupted adult conversation over a cup of tea. Book me in!
Clair was looking (as we all are) for something to do with her time now that both of her children were of school/nursery age. But she didn't want to work full time away from home. So she started up the Scrummy Mummies Healthy Cooking Club. You can choose from morning sessions with childcare or evening sessions. Plus there are also 3 week courses.
I decided to come along to a morning session - as I don't have the luxury of childcare for my littlest one at home, that was the class that caught my eye - having him looked after and a few hours 'off' to myself! So I turn up at 9.15 on a tuesday morning and firstly got him relaxed into the creche - Clair's sitting room. The childminders were lovely and as soon as my child was distracted with a toy I took off into the kitchen (he still has separation anxiety at 1.5yrs so I have to bolt while I can!). The mums (there were 4 of us) all had a quick chat and donned our aprons whilst sipping tea. Clair showed us the recipes that we were cooking for the day - Beef Panaeng, Cannelloni and Couscous Crusted Salmon.
The ingredients for each dish were all ready to go in individual crates, the utensils all readily available, and each step for each dish was printed on notecards and divided into 'immediate', 'after 30mins' and 'after 1hr' piles. I love cooking and I think I am a pretty organised cook, but I really admired Clair for being able to dissect each recipe like that - and to do it every week! So to work we went, dividing up chores and working through the meals. There was the usual banter on swapping baby advice, who has a great new recipe/time saving tip and wondering whose baby that was crying through the closed kitchen door (definitely mine I could hear as he was swinging off the baby gate a few times!). Clair was really good with assuring us that no baby had (yet) cried for more than a few mins of a class and it was true our day. Sure, there were a few intervals of piercing screams from I think all of them, but the childminder popped her head around the door and checked on nap/food options and reassured us all that everything was fine.
At the end of the session, around 11.30am we started to pack up the dishes. We each went home with 2 couscous crusted salmon fillets with a tomato and olive vinaigrette, 2 portions of beef panaeng, and 2 containers (8 rolls) of baked cannelloni - all packaged with lovely branded labels detailing cooking/freezing instructions. So 6 meals and 2.5hrs to myself for £50. Not bad at all. I can't wait to go along again is all I can say!