Believe it or not, I’ve discovered an up-side to the bad economy: I’m cooking more.
It’s not like I didn’t cook before. But we did go out to dinner at least once a week, and I found myself relying on pre-packaged foods for fast dinners on the nights when we were home.
But lately, I’ve been making myself think about dinner more than five minutes ahead of time. It’s making a difference in how we’ve been eating, and I think it’s a good thing.
I’m not one of those people who love to cook. I love to eat, but cooking… not so much. Frankly, I’d rather scrub grout. So it’s always a surprise to me when dinnertime rolls around and I have to – wait for it – dream up a new meal. Hey, didn’t I just do this last night? Why is everyone hungry again? They’ve got a lot of nerve!
But with the economy falling down around our feet, I’ve realized that it’s cheaper to cook than eat out (duh), so I’ve begun looking through my recipe box. For some reason, I cut out recipes from newspapers and magazines all the time. It’s like I think I’ll actually make them sometime. It’s funny and pathetic at the same time. I’m such an optimist. A delusional optimist. I’d like to think it’s one of my cuter characteristics, but I have my suspicions it’s not. Whatever.
So I’m looking through my recipe box and finding things like meatloaf. Hey, I think, I haven’t made meatloaf in years. I wonder if my son the carnivore would like it. I make it, and holy cow! He ate two slices!
It’s not like meatloaf requires a Cordon Bleu education to make. So why did it take me so long to think about preparing it for my family? Oh yeah. I recall the reason now: I have to remember to thaw the hamburger meat in time, and then cook it in the oven for 45 minutes. That means it never fit into my schedule of starting dinner a maximum of 8 minutes before my family all faints from hunger.
My crockpot has been getting a workout lately, too. Gotta love that thing – throw some meat and veggies and a little broth into it in the morning, come home at night and voila! Everything’s done. Whoever invented the crockpot gets my vote for genius of the century (um, the last century, that it).
It hasn’t been easy retraining myself. I don’t plan ahead well. But since I’ve been trying for several weeks, I’ve discovered that it’s getting a little easier. I guess I’m building a new routine, and the results are working pretty well.
The best part about my new cooking routine is that we’re finally eating healthier. Less fat, more fruits and veggies, and fewer chemically-named ingredients. And, of course, less chance of food allergy cross-contamination. I know exactly how each dish was prepared! I know nobody picked the walnuts off the top of the salad before serving it to me because they forgot I said “no nuts, please.” I know the rice doesn’t have almond slivers in it. I know the breading on the chicken is safe.
And the kitchen smells good, too.
If I’m not careful, I might actually start enjoying this cooking thing. (Do flying pigs have enough meat on their wings to make buffalo wings? Hmm…)