I hate food. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but it’s true. (I wouldn’t put myself in the overweight category, but I don’t look like I’ve missed many meals.) I don’t have an eating disorder, I have a FOOD disorder. I hate deciding what to cook, I hate shopping for it, preparing it and I don’t even enjoy eating it all that much. In fact, if I could take a pill and never be hungry again, I would! My condition has worsened over time, due to a busy family lifestyle, and let’s face it, laziness.
It used to be so much easier, when the children were babies and they weren’t able to express their displeasure with words. But coming home after a long days work and killing myself to prepare a healthy meal that is not welcome or appreciated by half the household isn’t much fun. When my husband makes dinner for me, I don’t care what it is – I’m ecstatic that I didn’t have to do it myself! And he feels the same way when I cook for him. Our 13 year old son would live on bacon cheese burgers and be happy, but this is hardly a habit I want to encourage. Our 16 year old daughter says she wants to eat healthy meals, but she quickly tires of what she likes. Today she loves it, tomorrow she never wants to see it again.
It’s not like I’m a bad cook, I’m rather good if I put my heart into it; but I think about food at exactly the same moment I feel hunger, and not a second before. By then, it’s too late! Is it really THAT wrong to have cereal for supper? If it’s just me, no. But I am responsible for 2 growing children, and cereal will not provide them with the nutrition they require. Nor would it satisfy my hungry, carnivorous husband.
While I want to blame my mother for my lack of culinary passion, I’m not sure I can… My sister is the complete opposite! I’m convinced that from the moment she opens her eyes in the morning, she is already planning lunch and dinner. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually dreamt about it. Where does this excitement come from? And why don’t I have it? Can I be hypnotized into believing that meal preparation is so much fun that there is nothing else I’d rather be doing?
There are others like my sister. So many people have such a passion for food and cooking that empires have actually been built around it! There are several successful cooking shows on television that have spawned just as many celebrity chefs. Heck, there is a whole network dedicated to food! Sigh… What am I doing wrong?
My husband and I have had a few ideas of how to better navigate the meal time madness, but we always seem to fall short. We know what we need to do, the trouble has always been making it happen. But, we are fairly intelligent and successful people, we should be able to make this work. We put pen to paper and here is the plan of attack in 5 easy steps:
1. Plan a menu
We decided we would plan a week at a time, so we sat down as a family and came up with 6 meals (leaving one night for pizza). The adults each picked two meals and the kids each picked one. The meal must include some sort of vegetables (french fries and ketchup are not vegetables). We looked at the upcoming weekly schedule and decided who would be taking care of which meal on what night. Seasons make a difference too, there’s nothing like coming home to the smell of chilli in the slow cooker at the end of a cold winters day – or the smell of steak and mushrooms barbecuing on the warm summer air.
2. Prepare the shopping list
Do you have all the proper ingredients in the kitchen? Probably not. Other than the main items you need, make sure you have the little things that make your meal flavourful, like paprika or lemon juice. Check the weekly recipes and take a quick inventory. This step will save you money as well. How many times have you brought things home with the best intentions only to throw it out 2 weeks later because now it’s mouldy and slimy or past the due date?
Whether you like to shop a week ahead or pick up fresh ingredients as you need them, plan your trips to the store or market. Maybe this will be a factor in deciding where each meal fits into the week. If you are a sale watcher, maybe the weekly food flyers will be a source of inspiration. Resist the urge to buy things that aren’t on your list. If it isn’t worked into your meal plan, will you really use it? Or will it be sitting in next week’s compost pile?
I know it sounds easier than it might be, but preparing some things ahead of time can be a huge time saver. If you can wash and pre-slice veggies on the day you bring them home, it will make the nightly routine a lot less rushed. You could even do some prep work for tomorrow’s meal while tonight’s is in the oven. Now is also a good time to start defrosting or marinating the next meal on your menu.
5. Ready, Set, Cook!
Now, for the grand finale! You know who is cooking dinner tonight and the hardest part is already done. The worst thing for me was always deciding what to make. But you’ve already got that figured out. Everything you need is at your finger tips now – it’s just a matter of putting it all together and throwing it in the oven. Consider getting the kids involved. They can grate cheese or mix salad dressing. They will be more likely to eat without complaint if they had a hand in making it. And who knows, maybe someday they will take over the cooking duties one night a week.
I’m not going to lie, it takes effort. But I’m working hard to improve my bad food attitude and not pass it on to my children. I know my husband is enjoying meal time a little more, and so am I. I may even turn on a cooking show someday!