I can’t cook. I mean, I can, I guess. But it’s not easy and I don’t like it and I know it’s my cross to bear, but ugh.

Tonight, I made chili after agonizing all day long about what to make. Chili. That’s what I came up with after hours of brainstorming and so much avoidance that I actually fell asleep for a few minutes while I was thinking about it. Now, ok. Chili’s not gourmet, but it’s not a horrible meal. I added chips and guacamole and shredded cheese, but as it turned out, the chili was terrible. Too salty. I didn’t plan ahead and so I didn’t have a spice packet on hand and I had to quick-Google a recipe for seasoning and then rush to get it done and I didn’t have seasoned salt and so I just used salt, but clearly too much and it was just yucky.

Anyway, the point here is not how disappointing my dinner was tonight; the point is how much I just generally suck at dinner and how I’d really rather feed my family take-out every single night. Except, of course I wouldn’t. Because I want The Who to develop healthy eating and because m* deserves decent meals after her 12-hour days and because it’s the gig I signed up for. But it stresses me out and bums me out and I hate it.

I always feel so inadequate when I cook or think about cooking or plan meals. I have one friend who loves cooking. (I mean, I’m sure I have many friends who love cooking, but I am talking about one specific one here.) Her husband comes home from work at 4pm and so she generally gets time alone in the kitchen to prepare a fresh dinner every night. She always has produce to feed an army and makes things like sesame-crusted tofu and — get this — her family eats it! Do you know what would happen if I put that down in front of my family? The Who would be delighted at the sight of it and then say, “I don’t want sesame tofu. I want mac-n-cheese.” And I’d say, “We’re not having mac-n-cheese tonight. We’re having tofu.” And he’d eat none of it and eventually I would offer him some jello and that would be that. M* would eat it and smile, but she wouldn’t be happy. Tofu is no kind of meal for a meat-n-potatoes eater.

I am lucky, though. M* is always so appreciative of the effort I put into cooking (when I put the effort in) and her clear support has rubbed off on The Who, who often says, on his own, “Thanks for cooking dinner, Mama! Delicious dinner, Mama!” I know I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky because I really don’t deserve that kind of praise for a job that is rarely well-done and always done begrudgingly. I gotta step it up. I gotta find a way to like it more. I have a lot of meals ahead of me.

5 thoughts on “Cooking.

  1. Robin,

    Don’t know if you knew this, but Kevin is a chef – lots of easy, peasy recipes that taste good, are low fat, yada, yada…feel free to call and brainstorm!

    Love to you all,


  2. funny and cute post…it seemed a while back you had gotten to like cooking altho you never were drawn to it as a kid so I was surprised. The cooking gene usually shows early and yours didn’t and now you say you don’t really have it. You have so many other wonderful traits and talents, tho. What I can share is what I did and now do and what people I know have done: They cook alot on Sunday or one day or night and have food for the week (I sometimes do that now and Auntie B does it all the time and if folks are willing to eat the same thing again perhaps, it works). Also developing a menu for the week before shopping seems to work for many and then there is no thinking, just doing and you have the right ingredients (requires organization and willingness not to deviate too much and is not for me as I like to make what I want to eat rather than what I thought I’d want to eat that day). Finally, there is a place around here where you can pay and go to a location and you pick the meals you want to prepare ahead from a list and they have all the ingredients, cut up or measured out, and you prepare the meals you chose and take them home in individual containers for each night for the week. Is expensive I have heard but perhaps not if you don’t have to shop much otherwise! Finally, I ended up making what I knew you all and Dad liked, regardless of whether I liked it, and if I didn’t, I’d eat something else, like tuna casserole (hey, there’s a quickie meal that normally pleases!) I love that you are so honest, sweetie.

  3. Malcolm has stopped eating mammals, and I am *so sick* of cooking chicken and turkey. I used to love to cook. I have started to resent his choice, which is terrible.

  4. Great post. I love cooking but hate thinking up meals every day with two hungry kids clamoring for food. I also hate trying to go to the playground in the afternoon but somehow having to have dinner ready as soon as we get home.

    A lot of people have recommended meal planning to me, but I suck at that. I’m an inspirational cook (thus it’s stressful).

    Good luck.

  5. If it’s any consolation, I really love to cook but I often find the deciding part stressful. I like trying new recipes but I always worry if they’ll come out correctly, if people in my house will like them (I have a hard time with anything other than a torrent of praise), etc. I’ve used the “cook everything on Sunday” method but then, I sometimes get bored. One trick I use is what I call “cascading.” On the Friday before, I think about what I really want to eat next week (let’s say in your case it *was* chili). I mentally picture what’s in the house (or just look if I’m at home) and make a shopping list to fill the gaps (often what I “want” is heavily informed by what’s in the freezer or pantry as starting points). Then, I think about what’ll I have leftover (so from chili it might be something like onion, half a jalapeno, cheese, chips, etc.) and then try to think about what else I’d like to make with that leftover stuff (taco salad? quesadillas? whatever.) and then add the ingredients for those things to the list. I usually make two meals per work week. I cook on Sunday or Monday and cook enough to last through Tuesday night. Wednesday night we have a standing date at the $3/meatball sub joint near our house and then I cook again on Thursday. I cook on Friday or Saturday depending on what we’re doing.

    I used to beat myself up a lot about eating the same foods over and over but then I decided that as long as they were healthy and I liked them, who cares? There’s a kale lentil soup I love to make and eat and is healthy as anything and why *shouldn’t* I have it once a month/every two weeks if I want to? I realize it’s harder if you’re trying to expose a toddler to more of a variety.

    These are some cascades that come up often at our house …

    chicken noodle soup –> mushroom stroganoff (made with leftover egg noodles from the soup)
    chili –> anything topped with chili (salad, nachos, chili-mac, etc.)
    lasagna –> home-made pizza (sauce ingredients, leftover ricotta)
    cheeseburgers –> some kind of dinner salad (leftover lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.)
    some kind of Indian food –> some kind of Mexican food (they use a lot of the same ingredients)
    kale lentil soup –> fish sticks with garlicky kale

    It’s not that the new dish is made from leftovers of the first, just that they share some ingredients in common.

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