My Answer to the daily grind of cooking

“What’s for dinner,” was always the question asked by my children every day.  I use to hate that question, especially since I wasn’t an excellent cook.  So, I decided to change my perspective.  My kids were active.  They played a sport, excelled academically, and played an instrument (they took piano lessons, and we had private home recitals twice a year, all produced and directed by their dad).  Those were good times.

I justified my change in perspective primarily because I was a stay-at-home mom, and I thought the family deserved it.  So, for twenty-one days straight, I concentrated on making breakfast and dinner.  I did it without thinking, “I don’t feel like it.”  It was too much work.  Inch by inch and day by day, I found my rhythm.  I enjoyed being creative with everyday cooking. 

My children aren’t kids anymore.  My daughter will be 23 this year.  She graduated from college last  May, and my son will be 19 tomorrow.  He is a freshman in college.  I am no longer married, and my daughter lives with me while saving money.  My son stays with me on breaks.  I am (almost) an empty nester.  Ironically, I am plagued with the question of “what’s for dinner.”  I have come full-circle (so to speak).  Now, it is me asking the question.

Daily cooking is a chore (or it can be).  Entertaining, at least, has its benefits; you get to see in real-time people who enjoy your food and are grateful for the experience, and you forget the process it took to get everything together–from cleaning your house to preparing the meal.

To overcome the grind that I consider daily cooking to be, I took my trainer’s advice to choose one day during the weekend and become my own sous chef.  I cut all my vegetables, lettuce, onions, grated cheese, and anything else that I would find useful for a salad or make a sandwich.  I go one step further.  I roast a chicken or grill a turkey leg (or any meat that I want to eat during the week) and put it in a clear container.  I also make three cups of rice or any grain or legume in my Instant Pot and put it in a clear bowl.   The purpose of doing this is to have options.  I can look into my refrigerator and see what I have.  Some days, I want a salad.  I also want to make a rice bowl that would include rice, green beans, roasted potatoes, and a serving of chicken.  I can make fried rice with or without meat.  The options are limitless.

The point is whatever you want to eat, you can make it separately and place the item in a clear container and choose what to include in a meal when it is time to eat.  It is a beautiful thing.

Yes, it is time-consuming to take a day and prepare your meal for the week.  So, put on some music or use the tv as background noise to help you get in the mood to cook (usually Ina Garten or Netflix’s “Chef Table” gets me in the mood).  A little effort can make a difference during the week.  Preparing food in advance will become your fast food.  And you will be better for it.

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