"What's for dinner? " I've been asked this question for as long as my kids could talk. Even though my husband Tim is a chef and has provided so many delicious meals for us, it has been my responsibility to plan the meals and keep track of whether or not there is any milk in the fridge.
I've been at it now for 25 years. Do I like the responsibility? NO!!! Do I do it anyway? OF COURSE. I still have a 13 year old at home. It's gotten a bit easier, with two of my kids out of the nest, but I am still responsible. I'm sure so many of you can relate. You plan, shop and cook, over and over and over again. It is oftentimes a thankless job. You take the time to make a delicious meal and the kid either chows it down in a minute or won't touch it because they had a huge snack. Argh! But, you do it again. Why? Because food equals love.
It's very basic. I don't think I need to explain it, do I? My college kid comes home and the first question out of his mouth is, "What's for dinner? " He hangs his 6 foot 4 frame on the door of the fridge, inspecting it's contents. "The Jackinator" will inhale most of it before the end of a weekend. My oldest son Ben is teaching himself to cook and has been asking for some of "my comfort food "recipes, not knowing that many of these were taught to me by his Dad. :-) Caroline , the 13 year old, looks into a full refrigerator and says "There is nothing to eat! When are you going to go shopping?" Translation: "There are none of my favorite snacks here! I need you to go shopping now!"
The whole process takes so much time, right? I do a big food shop at the closest supermarket. (No, I don't go to the cheaper one. It's not on my "route". ) I still spend hundreds of dollars on food. Sometimes I have a list, if I've planned some meals, but usually, lately, I've been "winging it", which is not good. I always wish I had taken the time to plan after one of those "shops". Do I cut coupons? No. I feel guilty about this, but I don't make the time to do it. I do have the supermarket discount card. This makes me feel better when I see how much money I save. Do I use the gas points? No. That's just plain lazy, but again, I don't make the time to find our which gas stations qualify.
I guess I could make more time for food, but I have chosen not to, because I like to do a lot of other things with my time. Could I do a better job at this? ABSOLUTELY. But I usually don't really want to! Save some money? YES. I do all right. So far, the kids are big, healthy and strong! Isn't that proof that I'm doing a good job?
I give myself a "B".
I get bored with my cooking, so recently I decided to buy a new cookbook to motivate myself. (The last paper cookbook I bought was Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals. I was quite a prolific and proficient cook during my "Rachel Ray Period".) So, I bought Cooking for Jeffrey, by Ina Garten. I've always admired her creativity and love of cooking for others, especially Jeffrey. AWWW! I wanted to be like her! I also picked up a Mediterranean Cooking magazine. Got to have healthy meals for MY family and my waistline!!
My intentions were good, I soaked my beans overnight, but I forgot to make my shopping list, and once again had to "wing it" trying to remember all of the ingredients to Ina's Pasta e Fagioli. Of course, I had to make an emergency trip to our the convenience market in my town, a.k.a. "the expensive one", to get some forgotten ingredient. But damn it, I was going to make something new and delicious. No problem. I dropped off my groceries and went to work.
Here's where it gets good. I come home to aroma of something delicious cooking, and my wonderful husband, of 30 years, the chef, pours me a glass of wine that I just bought and says. "It's not that good for this price. " (Yes, I spent 20 dollars on the wine at the expensive store, but I figured on cup for the meal and the rest for us. Wasn't that reasonable?) He reminded me we have a wholesale liquor locker at work. I should "shop the catering kitchen." He then looks at the price on the parmesan, and says "expensive market " is so expensive!" Not only that, but he had "the nerve" to make Eggplant Parmesan for dinner! My Pasta Fagiole was going to be redundant.
Now I know Tim better to think that he would even dare to criticize me, after all of these years. I have always felt like my efforts were appreciated. Yet, I did get a little bit pissed. I had done a lot of work for this one meal already. I told him I was not going to feel bad about going to "expensive market"!! I allow myself these trips once and a while. It's part of being a working mother. It's how I make it work! We stuffed down the delicious eggplant parm in relative silence and retreated to our separate t.v.s.
I can't remember if I dreamed it, or this revelation occurred to me in the wee early morning hours. WHAT IF HE WAS RESPONSIBLE? He's alway said he "could" order some chicken breasts to freeze. He always says he "can" make better pizza than our local pizza place. He doesn't "like" the quality of Trader Joe's. OF COURSE, HE COULD DO THIS BETTER THAN ME!! HE'S AN EXPERT!!! Over coffee, I easily sold him to take over, at least for the winter, when business is slower.
I'M FREE AT LAST!! WOO HOO!!!!!!
WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS SOONER!!!
That day Tim went to Market Basket and shopped. He is no stranger to Market Basket having shopped there countess times for caterings. He saved us money and the meals have been great! So far, we've had turkey meatballs and pasta, enchiladas, home made pizzas to name a few, and the left overs have been so good. He says it's easy for him, which I really believe it is. It has never been easy for me.
I've been gleefully telling my news to my sisters and my girlfriends, and to my surprise, they all assumed that Tim has always been responsible for the cooking for our family. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "You're so lucky to be married to a chef!" Now I know what they really meant. "You don't have to cook! He cooks for you!" Well, that's partially true. Tim's "pop up meals" have been amazing.
Thanks for taking over, Honey. I Love You!
I'm on the dishes.