Forget smug ‘batch cooking’, forget blending up a healthy smoothie in a Nutribullet and you can completely disregard snacking on handfuls of seeds. You’re not Ma Larkin and you are not a fitness addict. You are NOT a garden sparrow. You’re a busy mother.
There we go – I’ve said it. All the stuff that I feel I should be doing to keep myself healthy and nourished whilst flying solo with two small beings. It’s time to get realistic. Granted, after 5 days of eating a bowl of cornflakes for my evening meal, I feel I need to be a combination of all of the above – but really, I know what the balance is and if I write it down for all to see, maybe, just maybe, I will stick to it.
Firstly, here are the essential items you NEED to stock up on before your partner goes away – for whatever length of time. DO NOT let him/her leave without ensuring that you have the following items:
- Tea – I say DO NOT scrimp on this one. You need good, decent, tea, – ok? You deserve either Yorkshire or PG Tips. Typhoo is good if you have to keep on a budget. Forget Tetley – they do NOTHING for parents. Twinnings – great, if it’s on offer and you think you will actually sit down to appreciate the flavour. For me it’s all about instant strength. Yorkshire doesn’t mess about. It’s the Royal Marine of teabags.
- Wine – gradually stock up on the offers (easier said than done if you drink every new purchase the night you buy it) or buy in bulk – I recently finished a whole case which G had painstakingly picked out online. He never got to taste any of them.
- Coffee – I get whatever instant is on offer. But the BEST present we have ever been given was something I never thought was essential: a Nespresso machine. It lit up my life.
- Milk – for tea and children.
- Chocolate – for moments of despair and relief.
- Vitamin tablets.
If you can, organise an online shop to arrive the day your teammate departs.
Try to unpack it before 6pm.
You may also like to add:
- Cans of gin & tonic – better than sliced bread. Someone on my Facebook Page recently posted about Tesco delivering all of her shopping order apart from the Gordon & tonics. I felt her pain, deeply.
- Flavoured sparkling water – for when you feel the need to binge drink but can’t because you are responsible for the little ones – and don’t want to feel like dying when they wake you at 6am.
- Bread/cereal – emergency dinner.
- Cheese – see above. Also gives you energy whilst preparing a proper meal.
- Biscuits – break time essentials or fuel when unintentionally skipping meals. I do have to be careful with these though, because I have been known to binge eat a long packet of Maryland cookies within the space of an hour.
- Calpol – because a child is likely to get ill as soon as you are left alone.
- Paracetamol – for your milder headaches.
Once a week I manage to get my act together and do the house shop – usually online, unless I am gripped by a moment of insanity: “let’s just pop to the shops…”
Here’s what I buy to ensure I eat healthily. It’s all about healthy snacks. Usually you don’t get to eat a proper meal until the evening. So if you fill up on good stuff in-between, that’s not actually too bad.
- Fruit – wash it all when you buy it (stick the children in front of Ben & Holly whilst you do so) then you can just grab and go from the fruit bowl. Or I put mine on a cake stand to make it look more appealing. I used to be much better at eating fruit when I worked in an office because it was the only snack I took in with me. Now it’s much more appealing to reach for the biscuits or toast. My weakness for beige carbs over vibrant colourful fruit really does annoy me.
- Yogurts – there are TONNES of ‘mummy yogurts’ available!!! I love the Yeo valley or Onkens – they also double up as a tasty pudding if you need a treat (just steal some of the children’s chocolate buttons to put on top).
- Hummus and thin crackers/breadsticks or if you are making them for your toddler anyway: carrot/pepper/cucumber sticks…
- Microwave – There are loads of healthy ready meals around too. I know it’s not ideal and they can be more expensive, but it’s worth getting one or two in when they are on offer, to save you from eating a lump of cheese for dinner. I have at least one night a week when I have zero energy and a mountain of the days washing up to tackle. If I have a tasty prawn biryani in the fridge it cheers me up immensely.
- Stir fries – a healthy meal put together in less than 10 minutes. Feel the smugness. Pour wine, use chopsticks and you have yourself a romantic date for one fabulous flying solo mummy.
- Pasta – keep chorizo in the fridge and frozen peppers / mushrooms in the freezer and add some chopped toms and a handful of mixed herbs for a speedy, tasty tea.
- Friday/Saturday night meals – the weekends are probably the hardest days of the week to fly solo. Toddler/baby groups aren’t on and all your friends are catching up with their families. That is a whole new post – but whilst we are talking about food, listen to me now: organise yourself with a Saturday night meal, preferably Friday too. It will break up the monotony of the week and make you feel a lot better. My favourite for a Friday is pizza. Open up a bottle of wine, get into your PJs and stick a sloppy guiseppe in the oven. And for Saturday night, I choose one of these guilt free favourites from my friend The Slimming Foodie:
I also need to mention the Best Ever Pizza Sauce – I have only been organised enough to batch make it once and it was amazing with pasta for the rest of the week!
(The other thing I do is you know those packs of slices of garlic bread you can get? Well, it’s a bit sad but put each one into a sandwich bag and you can pull them out of the freezer to go with your solo meal. The same with bread. Buy an 800g loaf but put it in the freezer and use as and when you need it).
Keep in the car:
- Bottled water
- Dextrose energy tablets (I have these in my coat pocket too)
- A long life protein shake
- Lucazade sport
Which leads on to….
If you AIM to drink lots of water, you might just manage a few glasses a day. Really though, it does help curb the tired/grumpiness and also means you won’t pass out when you have a glass of the liquid grape.
Which leads me onto my last tip…
Don’t open the wine until the children are safely asleep (apparently it takes 15 minutes approximately for them to go off to dreamland properly…ha!) otherwise you will just be slightly pissed and confused and the children will sense your loss of authority and stay up all night. And you will have wasted good wine. Contrary to what they say, when flying solo, it’s much better to drink alone!