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the fine art of cooking for your SO, every day

so in my house i do 95% of the cooking. there are myriad reasons for this, but i do enjoy doing it, and ms. pigtails is fairly intimidated by my abilities. also, because of the way our finances are arranged i do all of the grocery shopping, so i plan ahead. it's my opinion that i'm perceived as being a good cook primarily because i'm a good planner. i don't like to make "instant food," so i have to plan meals ahead of time. i also pack lunch, make granola, etc., myself. this is a process that i truly do enjoy, most of the time.

however, this annoying thing happens. ms. pigtails has a sort of stressful job where the day can be somewhat unpredictable, and she doesn't get home until it's time for dinner, so i can't wait until she gets home to think about dinner. also, ms. pigtails is miserable and cranky when she gets too hungry. sometimes she ends up eating lunch so late in the day that she is not hungry. other times, she ends up starving the second she walks in the door. also, if i don't make dinner, there are not really any healthy other options available to us. furthermore, i have a pet peeve where i hate for food i've cooked to get cold before it is eaten. so the idea of simply reheating things in the microwave is not really satisfying to me on a daily basis.

of course, like most chowhounds who like to cook, i also like to cook food that other people will enjoy. but somehow my plans keep being confounded when it comes to dinnertime at our house. i would love to hear how other people have negotiated this sort of thing with their significant others, and what arrangements they have agreed upon.

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  1. First question. Have you let your SO read this post? I think that would be a great thing to do and a then have a conversation after that. And NOT when she first gets home from work :) Not that you'd be THAT stupid :)

    1. I have dinner set to be served w/in a half hour to an hour of Mr. Tzurriz's expected arrival at home. If he has to work late, he calls and I can either postpone if I choose, or make dinner as planned. If he doesn't call, he's SOL and gets to eat cold food, reheat what I've made, or make his own (typically hot dogs)

      If he has to work after he gets home, I expect him to (if at all possible) take 20 minutes away from the computer to sit at the table with me. If he can't do that, then again, he eats alone or in front of his computer.

      Either way, I've prepared a meal and done my part, so whether he eats with me or not, eats the meal or not, clean-up is his responsibility. It helps him remember that the food doesn't magically appear, and that I put effort and time into cooking for us.

      BTW, so that I don't sound like a complete b*tch, this was all his idea!

      Oh, and I do still get miffed when I plan a special meal and eat it alone, or particularly if I've made one of his favorites, but - I never have to face the kitchen clean up, and he always thanks me, so that helps. :)

      1. My SO has an approx 45 min commute depending on weather and if the Soxs are in town. Usually around lunch I call and ask for his ETA, if I'm lucky I get one. But usually he calls as he leaves. The nights he is late I cook enough for two but eat whenever I want.

        And there is my mother who said dinner is at 6:30. Period. If my dad was on time he ate with us, if not we all pulled out our books and read.

        1. When you say you don't have any healthy options available, what do you mean?

          I do pretty much all the cooking and planning of meals, and my SO has very unpredictable hours like Ms. Pigtails. Sometimes he eats a really late lunch, sometimes no lunch. I keep the meals pretty simple during the week--I'll do all the prep work when I get home and we eat kind of late, usually around 8 p.m. I save the labor intensive stuff for the weekends. Other times if it's really late, I'll just save the ingredients for the next day and we go out for sushi or order a pizza. The system works pretty well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cheezkitteh

            i just mean that if there is no dinner made, we wind up eating junk food at the pub near our house. or something like that. and the food i make at home, given the time and planning, is cheaper, more nutritious, and tastier than anything else in our neighborhood.

          2. Sounds to me like there's a bit of an issue of priorities. Your very presence on this forum indicates that food is a big deal to you. I won't presume to speak for ms. p, but there are plenty of people (my lovely wife included) who see food less as a form of entertainment and more as a way to keep body and soul together. They may enjoy food, but thoughts of it don't occupy their every waking moment. Especially with a demanding job, it's easy to forget completely about dinner until the ol' blood sugar starts to crash.

            Of course, the best solution is communication. A 1-minute telephone call in the mid-afternoon can let you know how the day is going and help you decide on what to prepare for dinner and when it will be served. But sometimes folks are incommunicado for big parts of the day, and other times the situation changes unexpectedly. You just have to be prepared to roll with it.

            When you know that things are up in the air, it's best to fix things that can keep for a while. Pot roast, beans, soups, stews, curries - they can be ready at 5:30 and eaten at 7:30 without compromising quality. If dinner is something that won't keep well, it's best to wait until you know when everybody's going to be around before you start. Just have some quick or cold apps around in case it's one of those days when ms. p hasn't had lunch. I have no doubt that when she walks in hungry and cranky, a glass of wine and a small plate of antipasti will win you major points.

            In an ideal world, everybody knows what's for dinner and when, and will be sitting at the table at the appointed hour. But that's not the reality that most of us have to live with on a day-to-day basis. So keeping the lines of communication open, being willing to compromise, and maintaining the greatest possible degree of flexibility become very important.

            2 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              The appetizer thing should work. I lived with someone who wanted to eat between five and six every day where I liked eating around sevenish or a wee bit later so appetizers seemed like a nice compromise, but he loved eating a full meal early and then having dessert and snacks in front of the tv all evening long. I remember one Christmas Eve I put my foot down and made a bunch of appetizers. All that happened is the appetizers made him even hungrier and the few bites I had just to eat with him filled me up so I still ended up eating earlier than I wanted and not really hungry at all. Please let us know how the suggestions work out, I hope you find a way.

              1. re: givemecarbs

                Another suggestion is institute a "cocktail hour". When the SO gets home sit down and unwind with a couple drinks and appetizers.

            2. Also there are many things that don't take much time, i.e., sauteed anything (chicken, pork, beef) with a quick pan sauce, rice and a steamed veggie or salad. And as alan mentioned, a little antipasti to tide her over during the half hour max it might take to do a meal like that. And, yes, save the complicated things for non-work nights. Win-win.

              4 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                I will also warm up a cast iron dutch oven take it off the heat and put SO's dinner in it. Stays warm, and he knows to look under the lid if I'm at the library or something.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Thanks, love to cook, but only on my terms.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I absolutely agree and have been doing this for over 20 years as my SO, who is my wife, does not cook (nor does she complain, otherwise she does not eat). Almost everything I make can be cooked in a short period as I have done the prep work. Not meant as a gratuitous comment, but the real problem seems to be beyond the scope of CH.

                2. pigtails,

                  you and I are in almost identical boats. My GF works in a restaurant and gets home late(around 10) nothing I cant deal with but sometimes its 9 and other times its 11....or anywhere inbetween. that being said, when we eat in(late night HH at restaurants and bars in my area are a big thing, so that happens a lot during the week and we almost always go out on weekends) its either quick sautees or one pot dishes that are flexible in their service time(see: pot roast, coq au vin, etc.). seems to work fine. that way if I cant wait til she gets home to eat, its hardly an inconvienence.

                  1. I'm in the same situation. Since I always have a plan, and I'm planning to make something that must be eaten that day, I tell him to be home for dinner. Otherwise, we usually talk around 6 and then I decide what/when to cook, or if we are eating out, or if I'm eating by myself.

                    1. Marlene Dietrich wrote that eggs are perfectly acceptable for dinner (and are fast), as would be quickly sauteed canned tuna with some stewed tomatoes atop toast.

                      My SO and I are both guilty of being miserable and cranky when hungry. When he was working later evenings, I would eat before him and just join him for conversation while he ate. When I'm not in the mood to cook (and therefore make disappointing food) or it's too late to start a roast or other baked dish, we opt for picnics instead of proper dinners--a variety of cheeses, pates, spreads, cured meats and olives, tinned or jarred fish with sliced baguette...or a quick pulled chicken salad over a bed of greens.

                      1. I'm hoping the OP will weigh in soon and give feedback.

                        1. Do you work ? Or are you at home all day ? To me, it's tough to give you advice when I'm not sure of your situation. If you both work, then there can be issues with speedy preparation (both get in the door at the same time..I make my wife my sous chef). But if you are home all day, there should be no reason you can't adjust your cooking time to finish as she walks in (approx). Unless she throws you a curveball late in the day. Plus, I would tell her no snacking/lunch eating late if she knows you are cooking dinner. Thats' a bit disrespectful to me.
                          In my family, it's my 2 year old son who gets cranky if food doesn't appear when hungry, the adults usually can wait.

                          1. Have her call as she's leaving work with "hungry" or "not hungry" and if not always coming from the same location, approximate commute time.

                            1. I'm right there with you on this, pigtails. Is it possible for you to move your dinner hour until later at night, and eat some apps earlier - and have them on hand when your occasionally famished wife comes home from work?

                              I love love love to cook - it's my hobby/stress relief - so I always make the dinners. Timing was tough for my SO and me, between walking in the door at 5:30pm (oh - and we're out the door at 6:30am), sometimes starving, sometimes not, and with our respective evening "duties" (phone calls and paperwork for him, gym/exercise for me). So we started stocking appetizers - gourmet cheese and crackers, olives and nuts, edamame, homemade hummus and veggies - and then pushing our dinnertime until 8:30 or 9pm. I know it seems late to some, but it's made a huge difference for us, because we can usually be finished with everything else, spend a nice meal together, and play a game or read or whatever for a bit before bed. The apps work because we can eat whatever we need to feel satisfied until dinnertime, or nothing at all if we've lunched late.

                              1. regarding SO crankiness: dh's and my home meals' schedule is wildly erratic, and i wind up cooking big-batch stuff (that we eat as planned-overs, or freeze for much later), and bread & baked goods, while he tackles a lot of the day-to day stuff. we don't have a microwave. i wholeheartedly concur with others about the starters being available right away when the other person comes home. having a little plate of cheese & crackers, or some veggies and hummus, some leftover cold cuts, even the leftover veggies from the previous night, cold with a vinaigrette, with a cocktail or glass of wine, or a fave non-alkie beverage or smoothie-- this is very relaxing and a caring thing to do for another person. dh makes pizza dough and freezes it in quantity and we'll often split a mini-pizza together (cooks in 8 mins) while one or the other or both of us makes dinner. the starters don't have to be a production, or be a large quantity of food (in fact it's better if they are neither), they just need to tide everyone over until the main event. a small amount of your homemade granola (it's not just for breakfast) with part of an apple, or a little yogurt, would be good for this too! or try sitting ms pigtails down in the kitchen with a salad or soup first course and talking about the day while you are finishing cooking?

                                if she eats lunch late, ask her to let you know so that you can make a lighter meal for the 2 of you, and you can supplement your own plate with some extra pantry items on hand.

                                i agree with the others that either slow braises/stews, which can be served over several hours, or quick stir fries etc which can be prepped in advance and quickly cooked, are great for folks with busy/erratic schedules.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  SK--how does your DH store the pizza dough in the freezer? Flat or in balls? Do you cook your mini-pizza in the toaster oven? (Our regular oven takes FOREVER to heat up.)

                                  To Mr. Pigtails, I'm afraid I'm the Ms. Pigtails of my relationship (right down to the crankiness when hungry). Usually we have a quick conversation near the end of his work day (which is more predictable), at which I give him my estimated schedule (which is usually wrong by about a half an hour, sadly, although, I think he's got that figured out...) Even though I have an erratic and stressful work schedule, thankfully, my commute home is pretty predictable--it always takes about a half hour by car and 40 minutes by bicycle.

                                  While I'm still at work, he gets the ball rolling on whatever he has in mind for dinner and when he gets to that point where he has a half hour/40 mins left, he puts it on hold. When I hop in my car/on my bike, I give him a call on my cell phone letting him know I'm on my way home, which means he can start the last half hour/45 minutes of cooking.

                                  It's very sweet of him to wait for me, and I'm grateful that he does, but I always tell him to eat if he wants/needs to eat before I get home. Once in awhile he does, and that's okay with me, but often he has a little snack while he waits.

                                  I know that doesn't work for everything, but it works for a lot of things. Also, as you mentioned, certain soups and stews and chiles and pasta sauces can wait almost an indefinite amount of time.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    he stores them in balls in the freezer. he wraps the dough balls individually in (commercial, but i think regular would work fine) cling wrap, in small (feeds 2 as snack or light meal) and large (feeds-4-6) sizes. then you can keep one (thawed) dough ball in the fridge, & when you prepare it, get a frozen one out of the freezer and put it in the fridge so you always have one ready. if you have poor planning (me, no-- never! :-P), the small-size dough balls will thaw & warm up in 2-3 hours on the countertop, and dh and i have been known to hurry the process along-- i won't forget coming into the kitchen while he was preparing for surprise company-- he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and had put a large (wrapped) frozen dough ball inside the hood (hanging down his back, not on his head) to thaw quickly! LOL oh yeah the pizza dough on hand is dead handy for company, faster & cheaper & better than delivered pizza (in msp anyway, maybe not nyc). & since we always seem to collect little bits of cheese & have lots of veggies on hand, pizza is a pantry staple that can help us use up these items.

                                    we no longer have a toaster oven, but i think the mini-pizzas would be an excellent use for one. in our case, with a new dual fuel range (ah dual fuel, how i love thee, i love thy quick convection, i love thy dough proofing function, the sheen of thy stainless cladding, the. . . oh--erm, where am i? i was drifting there) anyway, our new oven heats quickly & we are generally heating it for other things besides pizza. we do use a pizza stone. the convection can cook the pizza very quickly with not so much wasted energy. you are right--if you were not using the oven for other things, cooking a mini pizza just for 2 would be quite energy-inefficient in a large oven. enter the toaster oven!

                                2. I do all the cooking in the house and I get home at least an hour before my husband does. He has a huge appetite and his mind is always on dinner, so throughout the day he'll text me with suggestions. When I get home from work/school I start prepping for dinner. If it's something like soup, I'll just let it simmer until he comes home, but if it's strir fry or something quick, I wait until he calls to tell me he's leaving the office. When he calls to tell me he's leaving he also says if he's hungry for dinner right away or if he wants dinner later in the evening.

                                  Some of my best relaxation time is when the soup is on the stove or everything is prepared or ready to be cooked when he gets home.

                                  1. Maybe the OP just wanted to vent. I feel you, man!!!

                                    I too do most of the cooking, because I enjoy it and food is my great love and hobby. Sometimes SO gets jealous of this, or takes this lucky situation for granted, and I try to starve him into begging for my forgiveness, but food is just nourishment for him so he doesn't notice, and just microwaves some gross frozen package, forcing me to actually DISCUSS my feelings, the jerk!

                                    I also have a cranky hungry SO, and I am a stickler for the no snacks before dinner or you'll ruin your appetite (thanks Mom), so that makes for a fun exchange every so often.

                                    When I was single, I couldn't wait for the day when I could feed my grateful, starving life partner and bask in their adoring praise while they promptly did the dishes, scoured the kitchen and massaged my feet the rest of the night in return for a perfect risotto. In reality, I get a quick thanks followed by grumbles about using too many pots, splattering all over the counters, and how does anyone spend so much on olive oil.

                                    Lots of good ideas here about compromise and communication, which is way less fun than having it my way, and foot massages, but probably the way to go. Ah, marriage:)

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: yamalam

                                      >>I too do most of the cooking, because I enjoy it and food is my great love and hobby. Sometimes SO gets jealous of this, or takes this lucky situation for granted, and I try to starve him into begging for my forgiveness, but food is just nourishment for him so he doesn't notice, and just microwaves some gross frozen package, forcing me to actually DISCUSS my feelings, the jerk!

                                      hilarious, yamalam. hilarious. =P esp. since i've tried that strategy, too... also to no avail.

                                      i'm in the same boat, except that I'm the grouchy / woozy one when i'm hungry and the one with the more unpredictable job schedule AND i'm the one who does 99.9% of the cooking. i'm pretty sure SO could never successfully enforce a no-snacks-before-dinner rule on me. i always nibble on crudites or fruit or cheese, and usually have a few sips of wine, as i cook. that's when my SO and i rehash our days for the another and i get to vent any lingering frustrations through vigorous vegetable chopping.

                                      1. re: cimui

                                        Yea, I'm also the unpredictable, cranky when hungry, may not have eaten or may have eaten at 3, primary chef.

                                        I can only assume that the PITA-ness of the above is compensated for by the fact that I'm a total stress-cook and thus a bad day will usually yield something delicious.

                                        Of course, on the other hand, I may get home at 9 and eat scrambled eggs. Or I may decide at 6 that I can't live another day without eating out and having someone bring me food! It's anyone's guess, but it seems to work ok.

                                      2. re: yamalam

                                        i am so like you, yamalam. the appetizer concept is a great one, except that for us i don't think we'd wind up being hungry for dinner. and it would just be another thing for me fuss over, enough is enough in this case. isn't is so annoying when the easily satiated SO doesn't appreciate our cooking genius and prowess properly (with footrubs)?

                                        we have talked about this issue . . . i mean, it took MONTHS before ms. p. realized how much i HATE it when she arrives at the table five minutes after i have served dinner, when it is lukewarm. now i do things such as give her several warnings about when dinner will be, and she has learned that she has to appear at the appointed moment, but still sometimes she forgets. so the fact that we have discussed this dinner conundrum means that i might figure it out a year or so from now (we've been together for 2 1/2 years now).

                                        i know i could focus more on making meals that are quick, but even making rice, a veggie, and a sauteed something requires 40 minutes and planning (brown rice only in our house, and nowhere to buy decent fresh veggies in our neghborhood). and then the fun of cooking is sort of less fun for me, when i'm racing around with a hungry SO at 8:00 at night (that's when she gets home). that is so not what i enjoy about cooking. i enjoy cutting vegetables perfectly, conceptualizing the meal ahead of time, cleaning up as i work, and trying new things.

                                        i think the key element is getting the SO to communicate earlier in the day with me about plans, and having a good stock of meals that won't suffer by being frozen so that i won't be sad if communication doesn't occur. we discussed today over brunch and she said she would try to do this.

                                        we don't really cooperate well in the kitchen, mostly because food preparation to me is a self-soothing activity that i love, whereas to her it is somewhat of a chore. although she would willingly pitch in anyway if i asked her to, she is quite a bit slower than i am and so it isn't really all that much faster. at the end of her 12 hour day cooking isn't comforting for her the way it is for me. (honestly, i don't know what i would do if i couldn't cook to soothe myself!)

                                        our schedules vary wildly and we rarely have weekends off together. some weeks we'll only have a few evenings off together, so i like to make them a little bit special. the evenings that tend to cause this issue are ones when i've been home in the afternoon and she's been at work. i do usually have an idea in my head of a meal that could be made in thirty minutes out of ingredients in the house for times when we both get home late and hungry, but i just wouldn't enjoy doing all of my cooking that way at all. another schedule element is that even though sometimes she'll get home quite late, i'll have to get up very early the next day, so a really late dinner prepared after she gets home would push my bedtime uncomfortably late.

                                        i remember hearing about this idea of working 9 to 5, having dinner with your charming wife, perhaps going for a walk, before bed . . . but it just turns out that life isn't that way after all for us! on the other hand . . . maybe that would be kinda boring.

                                        1. re: pigtails

                                          >>we have talked about this issue . . . i mean, it took MONTHS before ms. p. realized how much i HATE it when she arrives at the table five minutes after i have served dinner, when it is lukewarm. now i do things such as give her several warnings about when dinner will be, and she has learned that she has to appear at the appointed moment, but still sometimes she forgets. so the fact that we have discussed this dinner conundrum means that i might figure it out a year or so from now (we've been together for 2 1/2 years now).

                                          pigtails, i deeply empathize and sympathize with both of you. i have the same pet peeve. after years, my SO is still not trained to come to the table on time (unlike our dog, who is a model of punctuality at dinner).

                                          the reasons why you don't ask your SO to help in the kitchen are the same reasons as mine with my SO.

                                          >>i think the key element is getting the SO to communicate earlier in the day with me about plans, and having a good stock of meals that won't suffer by being frozen so that i won't be sad if communication doesn't occur. we discussed today over brunch and she said she would try to do this.

                                          this is a great idea -- and i'm going to borrow it, if you don't mind!

                                          it may also just be a ggod idea to save the more involved preps for the more predictable times, whenever those might be. i agree with you... it's terribly disappointing when you go to all that trouble and have. to. reheat. augh.

                                          re: snacking and ruining one's appetite. like your SO, i have a smaller appetite than average. but very light snacks can actually whet one's appetite, while keeping blood sugar levels high enough that one does not turn into a gremlin. crudites are wonderful for this reason, as are sliced apples, a handful of grapes. wine. if she drinks, give her a small glass of wine. it is an effective adult pacifier. at least for me. :)

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            i know, and isn't it somehow worse when they are like, oh, honey, it's still so delicious reheated! then you think to yourself, ak, you really don't get it! it was SO MUCH better the first time i made it!

                                            what makes this funny, though, is that ms. p. always makes the morning coffee in our house, it's her job. and i admittedly often let mine go cold before i finish it. and this makes her totally annoyed! she calls me the "hot drink killer."

                                            1. re: pigtails

                                              So it does sound like you want a place to vent and this is definitely the place :) I mean rather than negotiations and solutions. Deep breaths :)

                                              1. re: pigtails

                                                =P pigtails, you're a thoughtful, humorous and empathetic SO and i know you two will find a way to work this out!

                                                i forgot to mention earlier: when i get really tired or pouty and don't feel like cooking, we sometimes just throw together a cheese plate with fruit and some sliced baguette and have it with a glass of wine for dinner. that'll give you a rest. and if your SO is like my SO, she'll appreciate it as much as if you'd spent hours slaving over it (which can be a blessing in disguise, sometimes).

                                                1. re: pigtails

                                                  I feel for you, I have asked my in-laws if they frightened my wife with hot food when she was a child. No matter what I do and how many warnings I give she will find 5 things to do after I put her plate on the table. I have had to learn to get over it even though it is in my top three hot button behaviors.

                                              2. re: pigtails

                                                How about inviting friends over for a little dinner party on a night when SO *thinks* might be a good night. You can pull out all the stops and, if she doesn't make it, you still get the prep-pleasure and the joy of seeing your friends relish your food. Not ideal but it sounds like your lives just aren't going to be predictably ideal for a while at least.

                                            2. I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she was explaining that one of her philosophies is that "if you put a ton of effort into preparing a great dinner for your spouse and they can't appreciate it enough it is not their fault its yours." Meaning, don't set yourself up for disappointment every night when you know she is tired and has a hectic schedule. Probably she is thrilled with whatever you feed her, and maybe does not even notice the difference in the way reheated tastes. I know my DH is like that. If I fed it to him stone cold he would not complain and barely know the difference.

                                              So, my suggestion is this. Cook what you feel like cooking and eat when you feel like eating it. If that works out to her eating it with you then fine. If not, serve her (or let her help herself) when she comes home and / or is hungry and you sit and have a drink with her while she's eating so you still get the time together. No stress, no pressure.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ddelicious

                                                "I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa where she was explaining that one of her philosophies is that "if you put a ton of effort into preparing a great dinner for your spouse and they can't appreciate it enough it is not their fault its yours."

                                                bingo. exactly what i was thinking when i was reading through the replies. i'll happily cook for days prepping for a party and confidently tackle something i've never made previously. then again, i'm not a cook-book/recipe kinda savory cook for most things.

                                                however for regular dinner for the s/o, i'll make sure it's something that is just as good either room-temp or can be finished within a few minutes of him coming in the door. soccer night isn't the one i'll make a souflee, ya know?

                                                if you know your partner's schedule is erratic, maybe you need to adjust your own expectations of what's for dinner, instead of feeling bitter because their job or school schedule is unpredictable?

                                                keep staples in the pantry and freezer, loosen up your repertoire and relax. meals with somebody you love should be time to relax and enjoy each other for a few moments -- not a stress-test.

                                              2. Yesterday I picked up Pepin's Cuisine Economique and The Short Cut Cook from the library.

                                                Part of the philosophy behind the methods is using leftovers--not simply reheated, but used to make something new, and fresh, such as a chicken salad from last night's roast. It's not about reheating something in the microwave (although I do cheat and microwave potatoes before finishing them under the broiler--if it's good enough for Pepin, it's certainly good enough for me).

                                                The only thing I make that takes longer than 30 minutes from getting home to serving would be roasts or lasagne, which may take 1 1/4 to 22 hours. It's fresh, seasonal food, prepared simply (and no, I'm not using convenience foods other than dried pasta or tinned tomatoes). If I've started late, there's always something to nibble on, including fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.

                                                1. Wow, I feel really lucky for having such an easy time of it. I do all the cooking, mostly on the weekend and dishes we can eat for several days. Some people have trouble with leftovers, not BF. The BF usually likes to unwind for a few minutes when he gets home, a beer is nice if he's really stressed out. Then I fix our plates, he eats his and usually says some variation of thank you, that was delicious, I'm so lucky to have you. Hearing that never gets old, so I reinforce this good behavior with ice cream.

                                                  1. Schedules in our house are always changing, so I tend to purchase perishables in small amounts. My pantry is very well stocked and contains the basics for many quick meals. Our situations can change on a dime, so I generally have several differently timed plans to choose from. My SO is such an appreciative eater, that I have never become aggravated about cooking. Now cleaning is a different story...

                                                    If a meal requires specific timing, then I will couple it with a composed or green salad which can be eaten early as an app if needed. I have everything prepped and waiting to go in when I get the call. We always have prepped veggies, spreads, nuts, pickles available to create fast, relatively healthy snacks if needed. If the day becomes completely crazy then I can pull an omelet or pasta dish together within 20-25 minutes no problem.

                                                    I make time consuming items on the weekend, or the night before. Many slow cooked dishes are better the next day and reheat quickly. I believe in leftovers. I plan on having them and enjoy the creative exercise of turning the ingredients into a completely new dish.

                                                    A little planning helps us eliminate the no lunch/starving situation. We always have provisions with us - trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, carrot sticks, protein bar, even a meal replacement drink can be handy. My favorite is what we have named "emergency cheese" - the little laughing cow individually wrapped coupled with pre-packed whole grain crackers. All of these can be consumed easily while on the run. There are some chicken salad or tuna salad and cracker shelf stable packages which aren't bad. They are very welcomed as a fast snack when there is no time for lunch.

                                                    1. Wanted to add, along with "me too!" and a repeat of all the feedback above, that we instituted a cheese bowl in the fridge. The hubby is always STARVING when we get home and since we get home at the same time there is no way I will have food on the table. If I want to cook what I want to cook (instead of rushing something quick and not as satisfying to cook), and he's hungry cranky, he now knows to grab a string cheese or some crackers and cheese if he's that hungry, and wait. I also started packing us each an afternoon snack in addition to lunch (nuts, fruit, that sort of thing). That way, he's eaten a snack about 3 hours before getting home and isn't quite so punchy and I have time to make dinner peacefully.

                                                      1. My ex worked as a detective. Home usually by 7, sometimes, 8, 9, 10 or 11. I always kep some simple food in the house for appetizers and snack food. I also cooked every night and yes ... I worked till 5 home by 6 every night. My son played competitive soccer so 3 nights a week we had to be picked up by 7, 8 or even 9. Talk about a schedule.

                                                        Lots of foods to be made in a hurry, even healthy ones. I did prep work sometimes that am or the night before, pre cooking pasta for a cold healthy pasta salad with fresh grilled scallops, some casseroles, but not your traditional ones. Even some things in the crock pot that could be added to fresh ingredients. Salads with fresh grains, vegetables and shrimp. I hated the fact sometimes he wouldn't eat but just had to accept it. We always had the leftover the next day or two and sometimes as a side to some grilled fish or chicken. I never found a problems getting dinner donw quickly. We did talk about it which was important and also I also insisted he help alittle with me by setting the table making us a drink together relaxing a bit even if it was at the kitchen bar counter. It's alot of give and take and but learn to accept it and don't sweat the small stuff. There is so much more in life to worry about.

                                                        1. Our home situation is similar in that my husband does most of the cooking and I become irritable and cranky when my blood sugar drops.

                                                          I consider it to be my responsibility to manage my blood sugar so that it does not negatively impact the people around me. I keep a jar of peanut butter, some crackers, a can of mixed nuts, shelf stable milk and cans of tomato juice on a shelf near my desk. When my blood sugar situation was less stable, I kept a jar of honey roast peanuts in my car all of the time - even nasty & stale they could prevent a crash.

                                                          If my arrival at home will not be at the usual time, it is my responsibility to let the Chef know. If I have failed to communicate the change in my plans, I might be eating alone, or I might be eating cold food, or I might be eating food that is less than optimal when re-heated. None of these are fatal. Any of these, if I find them aversive enough, will cause me to call next time if I have the chance.

                                                          Cook what you want and eat at a reasonable hour. Do it because it is what you want to do and enjoy doing. Focus on the enjoyment you get from the doing. Don't let yourself lapse into the role of being a parent to your spouse; it's not good for either party.

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                                                          1. re: BeaN

                                                            Well put!, pretty much what I ended up doing. I ate if I had to alone, or just put stuff in the fridge. Can't let stuff like that bother you. So much more in life to worry about.

                                                          2. I work from home, and Mrs. B has a longish commute so she usually gets home about 7:30 - but sometimes as early as 6:30 or as late as 8:15, depending on her work day and the traffic.

                                                            Like you, I cook dinner 95% of the time, and most days I hit the gym for a hour or so after work, so I've perfected a repertoire of dishes we both like that I can pick up at the supermarket (next door to the gym) and prepare in a half-hour or so. And a lot of things I'll make in sufficient quantity to provide two meals (though usually not on consecutive days - i.e., I'll make a dish on Monday, make something different on Tuesday, serve Monday's leftovers - maybe with different side dishes - on Wednesday, etc).

                                                            I save the elaborate cooking for weekends.

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                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              Ditto, I hate to quote food network. But Robin Miller ... she is always making more of one thing to have later in the week. I guess I pretty much have always done that. If I grill 4 chicken breasts, I make six, but two in the fridge, I take them off a few minutes early and set them aside. Them maybe a chicken pasta later or reheat with a little sauce I make. I saute a shallot, add some white wine, a little current jelly and some thyme, salt and pepper and it makes a great sauce for a plain chicken breast.

                                                              Or chop it up and put in a cold rice, dish with beans and vegetables and serves with some crunchy bread. Quick fix meals (not to quote Robin Miller) but love having Mac and cheese one night and left over mac and cheese which I added some fresh tomatoes too along with some grilled turkey burgers 2 days later.

                                                              Good for you, I like the more elaborate on the weekends too. Happy Cooking!!