Alhamdulilah, the beautiful month of Ramadan is just around the corner. Whilst I could carry on and talk about the blessings (and no doubt I probably will) the reality of another Summer Ramadan means that it is going to be hard. Iftari will be approximately 9pm here in the UK. How many of us actually eat that late normally? In a normal life, you go to work, come home and eat maybe immediately or perhaps an hour later but not so much later. It is without a doubt going to be hard. I know Ramadan is supposed to be hard. When Fajr is at 2:30am it is already hard without adding fasting into the equation.
So what can we do practically right now to make our lives easier? Here is my last minute guide to making things easier.
1.Do a freezer audit, write down a list of everything your freezer contains; after all there is no point in cooking endless portions of something if your freezer already contains it. Do the same for your store cupboards. Have a read of this post written when I had a tiny freezer, and alhamdulilah that freezer stored some amazing meals which made my life so much easier: http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Preparation
2.Cook double portions of every evening meal from today for the next ten days, it will mean that you have ten meals in your freezer that are already cooked, and it means for the days when it has all got too much or that you are just exhausted you have a meal ready and waiting. Failing everything you already have a third of your Ramadan cooking done…how fantastic is that?
3.Take the time now to prepare things like:
Uzbek Palov that need preparation now but when they come to the night are very quick and easy to cook. http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/uzbek-palov.html
I still can’t believe that last year I went into the kitchen 20 minutes before iftari. This meant I had free time for so many other things.
4.Create a menu planner. A rather simple idea, but it really does take the head ache out of wondering what to have for iftari when you are exhausted. If you are stuck for ideas, just follow what we ate in Ramadan 2011 and you’ll be eating your way around the world. http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=28
5.Assess your meals. Try not to fall into unhealthy Ramadan habit traps. Remember fried food every day before your meal will fill you up very quickly, make you thirsty the next day and of course pile on the weight. By all means have a few fried things but remember the days will be long and eating time will be short so our bodies need to stay healthy so that we can gain the most from Ramadan. Similarly try and avoid thirty of days of eating meat, it is hard to digest and most of us won’t be expending the same amount of calories as we do normally. Make sure to add fruit/vegetables with a high water content to your iftari starters. Fried vegetables may taste nicer, but raw vegetables will re-hydrate you. http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/whats-at-your-iftari.html
6.Don’t go shopping for food without a list when you are hungry. You may be different but honestly every time I have come back with the strangest combination of ingredients and always come home asking myself, “why”? Well, to remind myself if no one else this is a great example of why this is a no-no! http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/shopping-while-fasting-is-always-bad.html
7.Plan for sehri too. I always think it’s a great idea not to rely on sugar infused cereal to get you through a very long day (20 hours plus if you are in Scandinavia). Instead I try and eat food that is whole grain and filling. I find I struggle to function when I’m half-asleep and instead came up with a great idea ( thanks Japan!) to make up sehri bento boxes the night before. They are easy to do and mean that you just get up, eat, pray and with any luck fall asleep again. http://ramadandinners.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Sehri%20bento
8.Guests come in Ramadan. That is a fact of life and a good one too, because there are numerous hadiths about the reward for feeding a fasting person. It’s always nice though if guests can be considerate and realise the host has also had a long day!
9.Remember that (and I’m talking myself out of a blog here!) Ramadan is not just about eating, and with the shorter nights (especially the last third of the night will only be a couple of hours) you really want to focus on quick and easy meals so that you have plenty of time for ibadat. Looking at the calendar at the moment, its easy to imagine it getting to 10.30 on just a casual meal!
10.Finally remember to make a dua’ before and after every meal. Remember all those around the world without an iftari and try and do as much as you can do to help them, not only through dua’ but through your actions.
Insh’Allah may you have a truly blessed Ramadan, may your dua’s be answered and insh’Allah Allah(swt) will rain his mercy and blessings on us. Ameen.