Do you cook every night?
A reader writes:
I have a 1 year old and I am a stay at home mom, but my husband is only home for dinner three nights a week because of work. So I really only bother making a real dinner on those nights and even then I try to get out of it by going out or to my mom's. I make it up as I go when I'm on my own, giving her mac and cheese or grilled cheese. I feel bad about this because I want to make more real meals and stop giving her so much processed stuff.
I don't even know where to start. Cooking does not come easily to me. How do you come up with meal ideas for every night?? How do you stay organized? By the time I think to cook dinner, have all the ingredients, and then finally get done with it, its so late! I know it sounds stupid, but I really suck at this and want to get better.
Your question is not stupid and you are not alone. With the economy in the Diaper Genie more people are trying to cook at home to save money or cut calories.
To answer your question, yep, I cook every night and I work outside the home. You aren't stupid or disorganized, you just have to change the way you think about dinner. You are right that by the time you think of something and gather the ingredients it's too late. The time to think about dinner is when you go grocery shopping for the week. I usually go on Sundays and I will literally write on a separate piece of paper MONDAY tacos TUESDAY chicken WED soup w/leftover chicken THURS big salad with grilled chicken or beef on top.
Then I will check my pantry for what I have and what I need. You have no idea what a stress reliever it is to know what you are having for dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. If you need some guidance, our food editor Janet Keeler has already done the thinking for you. Every week she posts a week of menus on her Stir Crazy blog and they all take less than 30 minutes, usually way less.
I never plan for Fridays or the weekends because that's when dear hubbie cooks or we are out at one of the endless birthday parties we seem to get invited to, so four meals really isn't that hard.
In addition, I keep the pantry stocked with easy meals for a night I can't get to the grocery like beans and rice, pasta and sauce. I have frozen meatballs and I shred and freeze leftover chicken and pork to use in soups, burritos or pasta dishes.
Babies eat so little, I wouldn't stress about making an elaborate meal for you and her. But do cook for yourself and share some of it with her so that she gets used to adult meals, not just chicken nuggets and pizza.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne