Am I Really Cooking This Same Damn Dinner Again?

I don’t fancy myself a chef (right now my husband is shouting, “Can I get an Amen?!). Oddly, I really enjoy food, going out to various restaurants, and I think that Curtis Stone is hot. Yet, when it comes to being creative in the kitchen, or using a recipe that requires arugula, I just shrug my shoulders and say, “eh.”

If you are like me in this department, then I assume you’ve given it the ole’ college try. Perhaps you have switched out one ingredient for another: “I used Bar-B-Q sauce today.”  Or maybe you have impulse bought a Real Simple or other cooking magazine in the check out like because of promises of “Dinners in Under 30 Minutes the Whole Family Will Love!” [Side Bar: I often wonder how these article writers know that my family will love these said dinners. What if I have a child with a dairy allergy or a husband who thinks that peas are a waste of time?  What then Cooking Light?]

I always feel exhilarated after these purchases, vowing that I will make interesting and healthy meals with delectable aromas filling the house.  “Yes I can!” I say to myself, vowing that on the next shopping trip I will buy new and exciting ingredients.

Here is what really happens:

A month later I find the magazine under the coffee table caked in dust and grape jelly (don’t ask how the jelly got there, I still don’t know). I look at the pictures of delectable meals and think, “That’s nice.” I ear-mark a few pages and put the magazine next to the grocery list.

Six months later I find the magazine buried under a staggering pile of Target receipts, four old To Do lists, two pamphlets of yoga classes I still have yet to try out, an overdue bill for the Sunday paper (crap!), a bunch of old Halloween stickers, and  three solicitations for clothing donations – all past due. As I brush off the magazine I think, “What a waste of $4.95.” I then toss it into the recycle bin (I do care about the earth) and proceed to make spaghetti and meatballs…yet again.

Ah, the boring supper dilemma: Wanting new and exciting meals, yet buying the same crap at the grocery store. The cycle must end.

So I have devised a cheat sheet, if you will, as to how to somewhat achieve dinner excellence:

1)      Have my husband make dinner at least 1 time a week.  He is an excellent cook and super creative (He once made fancy sautéed shrimp served in a coconut. A coconut people!).

2)      Add 2 new ingredients to the same old chicken dish. This usually involves cheddar cheese or Campbell’s soup.

3)      Add dinner rolls. I could serve a brick to my family for dinner and they would eat it if it came with a Pillsbury crescent roll.

4)      Promise dessert if the meal is eaten. A good fall back plan if numbers 1 through 3 did not occur.

In reality, I have decided to be kind to myself and say, “Hey, it’s O.K. you suck at dinner making. You’re busy lady with shuttling your child to school, dance, and swim classes, volunteering out the ying yang, and watching the new NBC line up. Chin up. Don’t forget, you’re good at folding.”

I hope you all will be kind to yourselves as well. Yes, we can all try a new creation when we are able to, but that is not the real reason to have dinner. It is to be together. Catch up on the day, laugh, and be thankful that we can have dinner. I hope that tonight you enjoy yours with family or friends.

Even if it is cream of mushroom chicken…again.

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