That was years back and when the kids were bigger, we experimented with not having a maid. Food was a problem as I didn't really know how to cook. A few dishes is what I could muster. For the first few weeks, we had hawker food on most nights. Then we decided we couldn't go on the way we did and tried to spice things up ....starting with sambal ! My husband's aunt was most helpful. She taught me the basics and over the years as I became more confident, I improvised along the way. A sambal tumis which was basically onions, garlic, dried chillies, blended and cooked with sugar and assam was my very first lesson. Making a big batch and freezing the sambal in little packets to be used when needed is how I am able to whip up Malay and Peranakan style dishes after work with minimal effort. Sambal tumis is very versatile eg you can make hae bee hiam with fried dry prawns added and with more assam added with water, you can have sambal squid etc
Once a month, I dedicate myself to making sambal tumis, buying a huge sack of onions like I was cooking curry for a whole dormitory of workers. I choose a weekend when the kitchen is at its dirtiest and an overall cleaning can be done after. This is because the sambal mixture blubbers like a vocalno, throwing a hissy fit, spewing hot sambal in her path and basically making a scene in the kitchen. Until she is soothe, pacified and all cooked. Then I have the sambal packed into little bags and placed in the freezer till I require them again for my recipes. I much prefer to make my own sambal as the ones we get commercially do contain quite a lot of preservatives.