I’ve been in a bit of a cooking funk, which is unusual for me. Instead of reaching for the new cookbook on my shelf, I find myself reaching for a take-out menu. Instead of looking at the bright, crisp vegetables in my fridge and seeing delicious possibilities, I am seeing work. Instead of proudly wanting to cook healthy meals for my family, I am guiltily looking in the freezer for a pizza I can just throw in the oven and be done with.
I guess I’m just a little burnt out, but who wouldn’t be? I just (finally) said adios to nine weeks of solo-nighttime parenting, and while taking care of my children is no hardship, coming home from work and having to do the entire dinnertime/playtime/bath time/bedtime routine on my own every night for – did I mention? – nine weeks, has taken its toll. I got tired. I looked for shortcuts. I didn’t have my husband there to hold a cranky kid while I chopped carrots, or praise my efforts once the meal hit the table. Or to set the table. Or to help clean up. Or or or or or. Anyway, you get my whiny point.
Sometimes I use the glorious spring weather as an excuse not to cook; we often stay outside, drawing 3D chalk pictures (thanks, Crayola!) or blowing bubbles or running around in the park until so late that before we know it, there’s no time for anything but grilled cheese sandwiches and some baby tomatoes. One night we were in the front yard playing for so long that my neighbour, assuming we were had eaten already, came outside with fudgsicles for my kids, and yep, that was dinner that night. They didn’t mind.
And it was a one-of-a-kind treat, so I didn’t really mind, either, but what bothered me was that I was relieved. Relieved that I didn’t have to cook, and that once the kids went to bed, I could eat a bowl of cereal and be done with it.
I’ve also used my sister’s visit these last two weeks as an excuse not to cook – she lives in the middle of fricken nowhere! Of course we have to go out for Greek food/Chinese food/Middle Eastern food/brunch/lunch/coffee and dessert!
I’m being hard on myself, I know, but cooking for my family is something I generally get so much satisfaction from, and it is much better for my life to view meal prep as a pleasure and not a prison sentence. That’s what doing laundry is for.
Having Chris back home in the evenings will help, as will the start of the farmers’ market season, when it’s impossible not to look at that beautiful produce and see possibility. We’ll also soon replace our barbeque, which literally hit the dirt last year and is now serving as a fire pit in the backyard, and then I can transfer some of the meal prep to my grill cook/husband, as I never learned to master the coals. As for fudgsicles for dinner? Well, much to my children’s disappointment, we’ll be retiring that meal idea for now. Unless it’s a really hot day.