Saturday, September 03, 2011

Can We Talk?

I am having some serious meal planning/preparation issues. This is what my fridge looks like once in awhile with alarming regularity.

I asked the kids and NO, they didn't want to eat rotting meat, expired yogurt, and pickles for dinner.

Each week starts with grand ambitions and sometimes even a menu{!} that looks like this: 

M-pulled pork tacos 
T-chicken scallopini 
Th-spicy tilapia
F-grilled balsamic bbq chicken

But our reality last week looked like:

M-take & bake pizza
T- sandwiches
W-pot roast (the fancy microwave kind from costco)
Th-leftover pizza and pot roast (on the same plate)
F-peanut butter chocolate chip waffles
Sat--suspect buffalo burgers from a New Age street vendor (lunch) and hot dogs (dinner)

We all love good food, but I am struggling to figure out when and how to a) buy food and b) prepare it.

And that is even after we added this bad boy to our family:

I'm so proud to have scored this awesome gas range at a home sale for $100. Whoo hoo! We already had a gas outlet, so Brad just had to drop it in and we were in business.

Actually, he had to power down the entire house and do some shady wiring and re-routing of electric currents, but it's working like a dream.

Even though it hasn't seen much dinner action, the gas range has scrambled enough eggs to make entire chicken coops nervous. I love my overly naive and supportive kids who tell me every morning, "These cheesy eggs cooked over a gas flame taste sooo much better!"

{Did you catch that? I do make eggs. All is not lost. The smoke signal of despair will be when I buy Pop-Tarts.}

I have even made some fantastic lunches, due to my favorite invention, the bento lunch box, at

I LOVE not digging for tupperware containers/lids or using a million Ziploc bags.

Before you think I'm all Martha-y with the lunches {because I'm assuming that you've blocked out that I served re-heated pizza and re-heated pot roast on the same plate last week}, this lunch organization is not an everyday thing.

{I should mention that when I served the sketchy pizza/roast duo, Brad was out of town and we didn't get home from practice until 7.}

{But I should also mention that when I'm out of town, Brad eats things like triple decker PB&J's and hot dogs in a tortilla with cheese...which he actually named "The Quesadilla Hot Dog Wrap."}

So what I'm humbly asking the precious blog-reading community is for you all to fix my problem. Even meal planning and grocery shopping require too much thought. I need something magical, like a Harry Potterish spell that could fix dinner every night. Expecto dinner delicioso!

Clearly, I can plan the menu, I just can't execute the menu. 

People talk about things like crock-pots all the time, but I'm always worried about drying things out or serving a gloppy mess for dinner.

This is a weird problem because I love cooking, but it seems like if I haven't cooked dinner by 9 a.m., it's not happening. Also, groceries aren't spontaneously appearing at my house like they used to.

My conscious is slightly guilt-ridden, because I did manage to find time to bake muffins, chocolate peanut butter cookies, peanut butter brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and m&m brownies this week. Somehow I always manage to have those ingredients on hand??

So here's the deal, if anyone can help, I'll make you a cake the next time you need Polly Pocket floating in a blue jell-o pool while Chewy & the Storm Trooper battle it out.

And please don't mention anything about priorities.


Tim and Adri said...

Great question...same problem here! :) I've been asking people that I trust for their easy/mostly healthy go-to meal when they have 30 minutes to throw something together. Here are the answers I get. Keep chicken cooked up ahead of time (weekends?). Use chicken for casseroles, soups, & stir fry. Use the crock pot to make soups (chicken chili, taco soup, tortilla soup) etc...bread machine for a side? Sorry, these are not earth shattering ideas, but I've been trying them and it seems to fill in the gaps when my more exciting menu plans are backfiring. From following your blog (which always makes me smile-thank you) for over a couple years, I've noticed you are a much better cook than why am I giving you advice! :) Let us know what you come up with...

Andy Rowell said...

This cartoon:
replace "homework" with "supper".

I read a little of this book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam (May 27, 2010) and she (29 year old with one kid who farms her 2 year old out to day care 10 hours a day) just said to do whatever the heck you want and that this is moral and good. You can do it all if you just try harder--bleh.

No recommendations here. Carrot sticks, apple slices, yogurt, bread, cashews, almonds, walnuts, cucumber slices, bread, string cheese, and a can of beans. I just put those out and figure if the kids are hungry, they'll eat and all those things are basically ok for you. I should be like Brad and think of a name for it--how about "Dad's salad bar!" I really don't quite do that but I do start them on that stuff until I get "dinner" ready (which may never come if they get full on these things).

Just on the subject of good books, you have got to listen to Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan from the library. We listened to them on CD in the car. They are fascinating about corn, where meat comes from, and these hero local farmers like!/joelsalatin
doing stuff differently.
Fascinating. Best book I've read this year.
So well written and the audio book well read.