Monday, January 17, 2011

The One in which I Talk about Cooking

I realized the other day that it isn't really going to the grocery store that I hate. And really, hate is a strong word...but I do tend to procrastinate significantly when it comes to the grocery store.  Even with my current ability to go alone.

Honestly, it is the whole 'food management' that I am just really tired of doing. Planning meals, finding recipes, making the shopping list, feeling guilty for not clipping coupons or shopping the circulars, doing the shopping, putting away the groceries, cleaning out the refrigerator/pantry at the same time and then having to clean the containers for the leftovers that expired. Not to mention the dishes and keeping track of what is already in the cupboards.

I hope I'm not sounding whiny. I know that all of this responsibility is part of being an adult and having a family. And I'm much better at it than I used to be. I still remember the feeling of 'fear' when I was pregnant - knowing that by becoming a mom I was dooming myself to having to cook practically every night. I've increased my repertoire significantly and have found some easy, healthy frozen options for the nights I can't get it together. But I have been in a rut lately and need to pull myself out.

I need a system. I'm not sure what it is, but I need one. I need a repository to look at when I'm planning meals for ideas. I need to do the coupon thing and smarter price shopping  (in a way that doesn't involve going to four stores a week). I need to write a list every week. And I need to be proactive again about adding new recipes into the rotation.

I need to find a way past my two major challenges.
1-There are other ways I would like to be spending my time. If I could find a consistent time to plan and shop each week (or every two weeks?) and not let myself off the hook until I really do it. In truth, it probably only means giving up one knit/crochet session a week and it would reduce my kitchen stress. I've just got to overcome the mental hurdles and DO IT!

2-It is very satisfying to put a healthy meal on the table in front of my family. But there is nothing inspiring about cooking for this crew. Heather is just beginning to sometimes be willing to take a teeny bite of something unfamiliar. What Todd will eat is totally unpredictable outside of a few favorites. And neither will eat an unhidden vegetable.

Really, all three of them would be happy to eat the same 4-6 meals over and over expanding our repertoire is just to keep my boredom at bay and to try to find new things they'll try/eat.

If anyone out there has a brilliant system that might inspire me or a good recipe that your family loves, please share. I am hopeful that just writing this out will help me process what I need to do and move forward.

P.S. I hope this also helps explain why so few of my friends with newborns have gotten dinners from me. It is not a lack of love, but the fact that I just barely manage to cook for my own family. Those of you who have gotten food now know how lucky you are...


Nadine said...

I don't have any brilliant ideas, I just wanted to share your pain. I, too, find this to be such a frustrating--and unrewarding--task every day/week!! I keep telling myself that someday, the girls will actually eat what I cook. Grrr.

I find balancing all the shopping criteria to be stressful. What is on sale? What is healthy for our bodies? What is best for the earth? What is best for our bank account? And, finally, what will my children actually eat?? It's overwhelming to shop with all of this in my head!!!

So sorry I don't have any great ideas for you, but I'll sure be watching to see if someone else does!!!

Amy said...

Oh, yes. The environment and reading food labels, too. Thankfully I'm good at reading food labels and most things at Whole Foods are good. But then there is the cost issue again...

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only intelligent mommy who struggles with this. :-)

Cloud said...

Hi, I came over from a comment you left on my blog. Nice to "meet" you!

I am no huge fan of the meal planning, either. I have a very picky eater who is 3.5 and a toddler who is in the hit or miss stage of eating. My husband will eat just about anything, but I'm a picky eater, too. My husband is a good cook, but the way we arrange our schedules, I'm the one who does the week day cooking.

No brilliant ideas from me, either, I'm afraid. My toddler loves any type of pancake, so we have a pancake dinner once every couple of weeks. She even likes Carrot Cake pancakes, which is a win because they have carrots. But my preschooler won't eat those, or regular pancakes. I recently discovered that she likes applesauce oatmeal pancakes (WTF??? How does she like those and not regular pancakes? But I'll take it.) so that helps. I have the recipe for carrot cake pancakes up on my blog:

I'm sure I'll get around to posting the recipe for applesauce oatmeal pancakes soon, but if you are interested, you can find the base recipe by googling- that's how I found it.

I like Cooking Light for new recipe ideas, but I have to admit that I have yet to find a recipe there that my preschooler will eat. She likes plain pasta, though, so we do a lot of pasta dishes and I just save some plain pasta out for her.

Finally... do you need the money you'll save by clipping coupons? If you don't, why don't you just stop feeling guilty about that? Clipping coupons takes time, and your time is worth something, too. Same thing with the comparison shopping. Is the money it saves worth your time? For us right now, it isn't, except for going to Costco for diapers and beer and a few other things. And even that I grumble about.

OHF said...

A) Clear containers for pastas, rices and such. Keep your pantry organized like the supermarket: store the same cans and boxes behind each other. Easy to see what you need before you head out the door.

B) Khel and I l-o-v-e fish tacos (feeds 2 athlete-size appetites):
1- Get a pot of 1.25c brown rice going
2- Chuck 1 pack of frozen tilapia in a skillet with lime juice, cover
3- Take 1 avocado, 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, 1 seeded serrano and bunch of cilantro: dice and mix in a big bowl
4- Brown some tortillas on the burners
5- Throw some salsa and cheese out; let people make their own buffet-style

Fridge-to-fed in 30 minutes (quicker if you shorten rice's critical path). Those without the dexterity to manage a soft shell might just like the fish plus the toppings. Man, I'm hungry just writing this!

Katie said...

My friend Trisha has a great blog: Her deal is that she plans her menus based on what's on sale in a given month (yes, things go on sale the same months every year) and then she does all of her cooking for the month in one day and freezes it all. I don't do it for a month, but I do it for a week and it works great for us. Even if you're not interested in cooking a bunch at once, still check out her blog. She's got a LOT of great, easy recipes.

Katie said...

Forgot to mention that on her blog, Trisha also posts all her menus and shopping lists, too. Very handy.

Life with Pog & FLeC said...

I don't have a lot more to add than the advice you've already gotten. You're definitely not alone in this struggle. I subscribe to a few cooking magazines, so I can get fresh ideas. I try to spend a bit of time on Sundays to write down my menus on the kitchen calendar. Seeing it in writing is like a committment to myself. Sometimes it really says "leftovers", so I don't waste so much. I have several recipes in the regular rotation. I can cook several different things with similar ingredients, which helps cut down on cost and waste. I try to shop on Mondays or Tuesdays, but sometimes I get enough stocked up that I can skip a week. Also, I've gotten better about freezing leftovers. That way, I've got a meal in the fridge for when I'm low on energy or ideas or groceries. Feeding a family good, healthy food is a huge time and energy committment.