Love this story on cooking for the family
- Chowpatty Jul 11, 2007 07:17 PM
The New York Times today has a story by an admirable woman who doesn't get home until 7:30 each night and whose family includes a picky eater (much like my own life) and yet puts a home-cooked meal on table at least five nights a week.
Very inspiring, and other than maybe bagged lettuce and shredded cheese, she doesn't resort to processed or premade foods. No mention of hubby's contribution, of course, but I guess he gets home even later.
Pffft. That story just made me feel just exhausted. And the author doesn't even mention the additional time needed for after meal cleanup and how that all works into an evening that doesn't even start till 7:30. Honestly, when I used to work those kinds of hours, the last thing I wanted to do on a weeknight was spend any time at all in the kitchen. Our nanny fed the kids much earlier, hubby and I tried to eat a "real " meal at lunch and just grazed in the evening, and we were able to spend our time hanging with the kids, helping with homework, whatever. To me, the "sit down together over a home-cooked meal" thing is highly oversold. The kids tend to eat and run with little appreciation of what's on the table, a lot of inter-child spatting occurs, mom gets stuck with the cleanup while everybody else is off doing their own thing, and it's rarely worth the trouble. And of course as soon as they're old enough to drive, they'll call you 3 minutes before you serve that lovingly prepared meal to tell you they ate at McDonalds. (Me, bitter?) Honestly, unless you're on a train to Martyrville, all this strikes me as overkill.
I grew up in a family where we ate a home-cooked meal as a family at least 5 nights a week. It was hard on mom as she had no help from any of us kids or my dad- and I am sure we showed little gratitude. However, a couple of years back I called her and thanked her for it. I can now appreciate what she was doing for us...providing nutrition, modeling cooking skills, and getting us to all to spend a littlle daily time toegther. It is a habit that I have recreated with my husband (although I admit to calling a veggie burger and an apple "dinner" every once in awhile).
What is processed? Is she milling wheat before hand making pasta? Is she butchering poultry or relying on cut up chickens?
Don't get me wrong. I like to work in the kitchen too, and don't use a lot of canned goods, but that means that I have to fill the fridge with quite a lot of fresh produce and other things that take time. I'm thinking she is not experiencing a life that applies to many people. The family probably lives where sports leagues are not some popular/something her kids are too young for/not interested in. What time her boys hit the sack if she is not home until 7:30? When do the wake up? What time does school start? What time does start work? She preps BEFORE work? How many hours do her "ready for cooking" items spend in the fridge.
I suppose that in a THEORETICAL sense the things she lays out could happen, but what about when the boys are ill, there is an unexpected lunch or dinner meeting, the subway runs late, the power goes out, the weather is bad? Is her timing so down to the minute and her back -up planning so thorough that the planned "home cooking" goes on in all circumstances?
I wonder how many "Thursdays" (carry out nights) her months really have?!?
I think that the point of this article is being misconstrued. The specifics of how she does it really don't matter. What is important is that she makes an effort to put a meal on the table and share that with her family. I firmly believe that parents and children sharing a meal is an extremely important part of family life. It gives the children consistency, shows them that someone cares enough to cook them a meal, helps teach table manners and lets the family catch up. Is everyone at every meal perfectly behaved? Of course not nor is every meal a gourmet treat. I have 3 teenagers and not every one is home at every meal but we sit down with whomever is home. My teens know that a dinner will be served and have the courtesy to call and ask prior to eating out.
Making meals is not rocket science. I can cook and freeze meals for the better part of the month using one weekend day. The use of a crockpot is another easy way to go. Certainly there are nights when takeout is called for or we just make sandwiches etc.but the important thing is that the family shares the meal together.
I loved the article. Dinner time is crucial in my family, even with kids playing sports we eat together at least 5 times per week..no exceptions allowed. There are many days where many may question what we consider "dinner" food wise though. My kids friends always love coming over for dinner. Now that my daughter is older (16) many of the friends tell her how lucky she is that I cook. Just last night her boyfriend opted to eat a home cooked meal with us instead of taking her to dinner (on mom and dad's $$). Even though the kids hate to admit it, they do like being together as a family. I feel it gives them a stong sense of security.
Well, some of us don't have nannies -- when I did have a babysitter, for some reason she couldn't even seem to make rice. Now that my kids are older, they can make rice, start potatoes and make pasta. And I don't know why anyone would think that "pleasure" and "fun" are really a possibility on weeknights when feeding two kids and working full time. Yes, it's exhausting, but what's the alternative? They've got to eat somehow, whether it's fun or not.
I have that schedule..& I taught my kids that cooking is fun. If I'm running late I'll have my older daughter dictate the contents of the pantry & fridge & have her "prep" whatever menu I can think of with what I have. By the time I get home..rice is cooked..veggies are peeled & chopped & all I have to do is saute the veggies, add some spices & soy sauce & I have a stir fry in less than 30 min.