At the beginning of this month, I set out to change the way food is purchased, prepared, and consumed in this house, so as to streamline some processes, improve the overall health factor, and minimize my burden of cooking.
So far, I’ve read some good articles and found some new glass containers to add to my shelves, but haven’t actually changed anything very significantly. But, because I’m a problem solver, I’ve decided to peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak, and get to the root of my problem.
It’s not that I do not appreciate good food. I do. And, it’s not that I don’t like to cook. I really don’t mind spending an afternoon in the kitchen preparing a tasty meal for my family. It basically comes down to the fact that I don’t have time to prepare fancy meals on a daily basis. I don’t think I’m the only person I know with this problem. But I am tired of the answer to my problem alternating between a frozen pizza and a box of Mac and Cheese. So, I’ve decided to try a new tactic since my current tactics are clearly not working.
You probably remember how I tried the “once a month cooking” tactic, only to anoint myself the Patron Saint of Moms Who Drink While Cooking. Needless to say, I have not even attempted round two of the monthly cooking fiasco. And now my freezer is empty. So, it is time to try something different. I’ve been discussing my cooking woes with a good friend for some time, and I keep threatening to start a “cooking club” with a group of girlfriends. It’s still only a half-baked idea, but it goes something like this …
- Assemble a group of friends who have a similar schedule. In my case, all of my friends have kids, and about half of us have husbands who work late a few nights a week, so we can easily schedule a regular gathering without impacting our quality family time. Monday nights, for example. From after school until around 7:00-ish. Let’s say there are 7 of us.
- Decide on a set of recipes (One per member of the group. That’s seven, if you’re following the math here.) that can easily be prepared, frozen, and heated for a quick, on-the-go yet homemade family dinner. (Lasagna, Enchiladas, anything more creative than my mind can come up with right now … )
- Assign one recipe per member–she is responsible for shopping for enough ingredients to make that recipe times the number of people in the group. Again … lucky number 7.
- Gather everyone, and their ingredients together in a kitchen large enough for everyone to have enough chopping, stirring, cooking, and preparing space.
- Serve appetizers.
- Add wine to taste.
- Let the kids run wild and entertain each other.
- Visit while we work.
- Leave with a variety of tasty, homemade meals to fill your freezer and feed your family … for seven days. That is, conveniently, one week … if you do your math right. But, if you’re like me and your kids are picky eaters, or you have a tendency to eat at Nanna’s house every few days, seven meals could last several weeks.
- Delegate the task of recipe assignments to a different member each week/month/interval that works for your group, so you do not always get stuck with the administrative tasks. And also so you can come up with something more creative than a big batch of Spaghetti, or Mac and Cheese with vegetables.
- Repeat as often as necessary.
Don’t forget to add a salad or fresh vegetable when you pull your dish out of the freezer. There’s still some assembly required. But making it a social activity is sure to make the task of cooking more enjoyable. And your kids get an unsupervised play date out of the deal. Everybody wins here.