Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's For Dinner?

We don't use the "h" word in our family....."hate." So for me to say this on my blog feels like I'm betraying my family in some way, but I'm doing it anyway!

I HATE making dinner. It's always been a struggle of mine. Meal Planning. Blech! I will try so hard to motivate myself. I'll google for ideas. I'll read magazine articles of what works for other families. I politely listen to ideas, but inside I'm rolling my eyes with an "I don't want to do it" attitude.

I've visited many blogs and tried to be inspired by shared recipies, but I end up in frustration over one ingredient that I'm not familiar or comfortable with. I hear tips of getting my children involved in the kitchen with me and I cringe. I don't know what to do. My sweet husband says as kindly as he can that I need to do something....anything! He's absolutely right. I do need to do something to fix this horrible problem of mine. I hear the words, "What's for dinner?" And I get defensive, like yeah, what's for dinner? Why is this my problem? Here it is 5:30 and I have every member of the family looking at me wanting to know what I'm going to do.

The thing of it is, I feel like I'm pretty good at keeping up house. I have the freezer stocked for anyone to make themselves at home. I have the pantry stocked with snacks. I have the fridge stocked and ready to go....I just don't want to be the one to do the going (cooking, preparing, whatever.)

I have laundry done. I have the dust removed from the place it lands almost daily. I have a spotless kitchen so why would I be motivated to dirty it. I've purchase back up q.tips, hygeine stuff, trash bags....etc. It's like I pride myselft on being well stocked and a great keeper of the home, but when it comes to dinner....uuugh!

Is anyone hearing my issue here?

So, I dare to ask for any help or suggestions. I'm desperate. I get too frustrated searching on my own, so what works for you? How do you plan dinners for your family? Do you struggle with the mundane part of it?

I'll tell you the one thing I tried tonight. I wrote on the chalkboard in our kitchen a plan I'm going to attempt if nobody comments in an attempt to help me. Here's how it looks:
Sunday- kids (this means Nick is gone, so I'll resort to McD's or corn dogs)
Monday- Crockpot
Tuesday- Mexican
Wednesday- kids (Nick gone)
Thursday- Chicken (this is because of biking...I'll blog another time about that)
Friday- Italian
Saturday- American (hopefully grill in summer)

I thought maybe if I categorize like this and try to stick to it, I won't feel so overwhelmed or at a loss. However, if any of you have tried something like this and failed....let me know...save me the agony!

Dear friends....hear my desperate heart...I want to knock out some of my issues of struggling in my job one at a time. This is my first start! Thanks!


Connie said...

I too HATE to cook dinner. My sister plans hers 12 weeks in advance...me...not so much. However, I have tried to plan two weeks at a time, I can't do the 12 week thing...it's just not me. I think you're on the right track though. It is easier and less stressful to have an idea for dinner before dinner time. So..all that to say, I feel your pain. I like your plan....and know that you are a great Mom!

Mimi said...

When you all were small and money was so tight, I had to menu plan! I grocery shopped for only what was on my menus for the week (or usually two) allowing for leftovers for some days. So, I more or less forced myself to use the groceries I bought. It worked out well when I doubled up some recipes and had them in the freezer and wrote the dates to use them on my calendar. I also tried to get some of the meal partially cooked earlier in the day so I didn't feel that 5:30 crunch.

StaceyStace said...

Oh, I so hear you! I am exactly the same way. I have learned to enjoy cooking AT TIMES, but its not what I want to do at the end of a tiring day.
I post a weekly menu in the kitchen and then make a shopping list from it. I stick pretty close to it, but there are still nights when I say, "potluck!" and everybody gets a choice, even if its cereal!
I think you will like your menu plan. Good luck!

Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog, bloggy friend!

Chelle said...

I'm a nerd, or a bit OCD, who knows which. But, prior to the beginning of the month, I just write out a calendar with dinner meals for the whole month. Most of what I cook is Weight Watchers recipes, which are simple, and have no "what is that?" ingredients. Let me know, and I can send you some of the delicious, and simple ones for you to try out. We also do chicken about twice a week too....and when all else fails, why not breakfast for dinner (ie: pancakes!).

Erica Lynn said...

I love to cook and I know this doesn't make you feel better, but I'm getting to that part. There was a time when I was scared to death of it. I would buy hamburger helper, frozen pizza, pizza rolls, and every other type of prepared food you can imagine. I started to try and meals still didn't work. Then I started to not care, I thought "if it doesn't turn out then that's ok" I started collecting cook books and reading recipes that I knew my family would enjoy. If it had some weird ingriedient in it I wouldn't try it because chances are we wouldn't like it. I plan my meals for one week. I grocery shop every week (I stick strictly to my list so I don't rack up my bill) I then write down the meals I have planned out. I put the list on the fridge so when I get up in the morning I pick what we are going to have and defrost meat if I have to. I also leave some breathing room, I have stuff for spaghetti which is good if you get in a hurried situation, also frozen ravioli is good. For me it's usually I'm feeding the baby and my time window has passed to get dinner prepared and in the oven so we don't eat at 9 p.m. I have a great and easy enchilada recipe if you want it for Mexican night. I use bettycrocker.com. I love it. You can type in one ingriedient and they bring up all of the recipes that contain that ingriedient. I know this is long and I'm sorry, but I hope it helps. I'll be praying for you.

Stacey said...

i found this:
It gives you weekly menus PLUS the grocery list to go along! yeehaw!
Also, check out the article on the same site called, "When being Mom isn't enough". Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rache, just get a bigger box of corn dogs and show the kids how to heat'em up! Problem solved!
Jerry (Stacey's Dad)

kaylyn said...

I am so with you!! I hate the anxiety I get at 4:30 trying to figure out what to do for dinner when I'm in the middle of chaos with all four kids. Why is it that the most chaotic time of the day is also when I SHOULD be preparing dinner.
One thing I do is have all the ingredients on hand for three or four meals all the time. That way - there's always something for me to make if I haven't thought ahead. The stuff I keep on hand:
pasta/sauce (different kinds)
pasta/veggies (whatever's in my veggie drawer - peppers, red onion, asparagus, broccoli), artichoke hearts (i buy the big one at Sams) and parmesan cheese. I just cook all the veggies in garlic and olive oil and then toss it with the pasta (bowtie) and throw on Parm. cheese.
the last meal I have is crockpot chicken.
I have some good recipies if that will help but I think you are on the right track for sure!!!

Aron & Suz said...

i, too, menu plan for the week. the weeks that this doesn't happen drive me insane because "that time" roles around and I'm all frazzled at what to make. I try to sit down on Sunday at some point and make the menu. I keep most of my menus and pick from there, so there is no feeling of "where do I start?!" I also usually choose 1 or 2 new dishes from my favorite magazine,
"Cooking Light." I would actually totally attribute most of my enjoyment and learning to cook with this magazine. Recipes are relatively easy, use many of the same spices (so you'll learn what to keep on hand), and are healthy. I also agree with the comment about having breakfast once a week for dinner. We do this, too. I might even suggest doing some dinner prep early, like chopping vegetables the night before or even during the girls' breakfast time. This helps me, too, if the recipes calls for onions espeically because I loathe onion chopping. I store a bunch in a bag, so I can easily pull it out and cook.

Last thought would be just telling your self to start SMALL...like 1 night a week you are going to cook something and the rest you can do prepared or easy dishes (frozen pizza, spaghetti). If you have measureable goals (this is a key phrase in my life) it will help you be more sucessful. You can't just say (as you know), "I'm changing my ways tonight!" So, start small this coming week, look through a cookbook or magazine (see above...hint, hint) and make 1 or 2 new (or old) dishes this week. And slowly grow it from there. Keep us posted!

Here's a great CL recipe that has been a staple in our house for many years...it's so easy, just buy a rotissere chicken, shred it, and combine with other ingredients. Servie with a side of rice and beans. So flavorful! I gave this recipe to a friend of mine who was feeling down about cooking and it's now a staple for them too.


Irritable Mother said...

I do what my mom did when it comes to dinners...
I make a menu every week and make my grocery list from it. I put the menu on the fridge and my family knows they can look there if they want to know what's for dinner. (They also know to put in "meal requests" on Sunday afternoons when I'm making the menu.)
Mostly I go through my cookbooks to pick meals and I write the book and page number right on the menu.
The end result of this whole ordeal is that I really only have to think about meals once a week. After that it's just a matter of following what I've written down. Ahhhhh....
I'm going to give you a link to Reiman Publication's website, which is the company who revolutionized my cooking many years ago with their magazine "Quick Cooking." I don't get the magazine anymore - just the annual cook book, and I LOVE IT!!!
Hope this helps, dear one. Hang in there, friend!

Emily said...

hey:) I have the same issues, especially the 5:30 question which I usually answer with a blank stare. Then I say, "I'm not sure, but it will be ready soon".
Check out Saving Dinner(book) or savingdinner.com, it is really cool. I also like 30 minute meals too. I don't actually do all of this regularly, but maybe it will spark somthing for you:)

By the way, I am doing ok. Jesus is everything and the absolute source of my strength right now. I posted my Mom's obit on my blog, check it out!
Love you sister,

Joanna said...

I won't go into my whole history with the fear of the kitchen because that would take too long, but just know that I totally relate. I no longer hate cooking at all though and I think there are three things that made a difference (a huge one) for me.

1) I had an attitude change. A lot of my hatred for cooking dinner was resentment at my role of "official cooker" and selfishness ("I'd rather watch this cooking show than cook you dinner"; yeah, I know it's terrible.) I read a book called The Way Home by Mary Pride and it changed my thinking of a woman's role in the house and I was convicted of not properly taking care of my family. I repented, and started afresh by making sure that by 4:30pm I had stopped doing whatever it was that I was doing and started thinking about dinner. My mother's advice to me upon marriage was to make sure that my husband always had a good meal when he came home from work because he'd be tired and in her experience, a nice, hot, home-cooked meal was the best refresher out there.

2) I found this fabulous cookbook, How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman. Actually, my aunt sent it to me years before I started using it. What was different about this cookbook than, say, my Betty Crocker cookbook was that for all the major ingredients it explains what it is, how to buy it, how to store it, and any other facts that you'd probably learn at chef's school. I have come to immensely enjoy Good Eats on the FoodNetwork because Alton Brown explains everything (including how to properly use a knife) as if you were a student at a chef's school. Knowledge is power in the kitchen. Learn about the ingredients.

3) Pick a cuisine you enjoy (for me it's Middle Eastern) and go after it. You're more likely to enjoy cooking if you are cooking something you absolutely enjoy eating. If you don't like eating Mexican food, stop trying to cook it. If your husband likes it, ask him to wait for your skills and comfort in the kitchen to be built up before you venture there.

May God richly bless your efforts at becoming a wife and mother that reflects the face of Jesus to your family.