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Home Cooking and Marital Discord

I'm a bon vivant. I like to cook, have wine, friends over, and long meals. My wife almost views eating as another task that needs to get done as quickly as possible (don't tell her that I'm sharing this). We have young kids, so there's time pressure. I'm trying to cook interesting things to develop my 6 and almost 4 year old's palates. I'm pretty good at getting food on the table in a timely manner, but it does bring up conflict. My wife is always happy with what I cook, but gripes about the effort and the time. If she cooks, it's hot dogs, mac and cheese, and stouffers lasagna. Things from shiny boxes. The kids love that crap, but my daughter is starting to get it. Anyone else have these issues?

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  1. I don't, as I'm single.

    But perhaps you can tell your wife "Hon, I *like* to do this. I love to cook. I love knowing that you and the kids are getting healthy foods that I prepared. I love knowing that the kids are trying new things."

    6 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Yes, LindaWhit, we have had those conversations and have achieved a balance, and she agrees, but there's still that general daily tension with the kid's schedules (every marriage has tension on a number of levels) about timing and such. It isn't horrible, but I'd expect that true chowhounds would get into this situation.

      1. re: rudeboy

        Kids are often busier than parents are nowadays. I don't envy you with the juggling of the schedules and trying to put a good dinner on the table, rudeboy.

        1. re: rudeboy

          And another thing, Rude-y, even though this isn't exactly a chowish bit of advice: Back off on the scheduling thing. Seriously. Kids need down time. Highly scheduled elementary age kids are more likely to grow into teens who need constant stimulation, wherever they can find it. If you can find even one night a week to cook, as well as eat, as a family, your kids will remember this in years to come, and they might learn to enjoy good food as much as you do.

          1. re: Isolda

            I'm with you on this, Isloda. That's my general plan.....doing a stir fry the other night with my daughter doing the stirring was awesome. She felt like she had some game in the dish. Yes, it took a bit longer than it should, but what the hell?

            She can knock out her homework early while I'm cooking if she's not participating.

            We also did a Bangladeshi meal - I visited Bangladesh in Jan, but we also met a Bangladeshi at a Shell store near our house. I told him of my travels.

            After telling my daughter of the meals there and showing her the photographs, she wanted to eat a Bangladeshi meal. We ate with our hands, as Bengali people do. The guy working at the store (I told him of this) bought them some candy out of his own pocket - Bengalis are extremely generous.

            1. re: rudeboy

              You might find a real kindred food spirit in that guy at the Shell store, rudeboy. I'm Indian, and in India Bengalis are known for being ardent food-lovers and great cooks (with an immense fondness for every kind of sweets, so take this dude some brownies and you'll likely have a friend for life). Their cuisine also has so many influences from other cultures -- Chinese, Mughal, British, Portuguese -- that it's really fascinating. And like you said, most Bengalis are very generous and love to share food. I guess it's that way with most cultures who have suffered long periods of famine and hardship.

              Anyway, your kids are lucky to have a Dad who is interested in the people around him (and what they eat).

              1. re: ninrn

                Thanks for the nice response, ninrn. I will bring him some "sweets" the next time that I make some!

      2. rude-y (that's what I'm calling you from now on!), do you work outside the home? If so, perhaps your wife thinks you're taking time away from her for something that means nothing to her. Or that instead of taking time cooking, you could be bathing kids, etc. ???

        11 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          fine with me on rude-y! Yes, but I'm a daily shopper, then have to get home and prep and cook by 6;30. I can't make a bechamel or a proper veloute in that time (for example), so I've had to dumb down my cooking. If there's a marinade or spice rub, I do that in the morning. My wife doesn't need any one on one time with me, unfortunately (oversharing?), and I still bathe the kids.

          But she takes care of ALL the laundry, most of the kid's school stuff, accounting and bill paying, and a lot of the house cleaning. It's almost the perfect scenario. She is sort of type-a. Sometimes division of labor is the best approach. But we can still get into these daily arguments if dinner is 10 minutes late. The way I cook, you just never know. That's why I could never be a restaurant chef.

          1. re: rudeboy

            What about the weekends, rude-y? Do you have more time then where you could perhaps do the more time-intensive preparations? OR, perhaps you can do some pre-planning of meals and get the prep done on the weekends.

            "OK, we're going to have burgers on Wednesday. I'll caramelize a couple of pounds of thinly sliced Vidalias on Sunday afternoon and freeze most of it, keeping out just enough for everyone for this Wednesday's meal."

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Ha - I'm going to have to change my handle soon!

              I'm REALLY bad at pre-planning meals and doing "for the week" type cookiing. I'm pretty good at using all the leftovers, but typically, I like to cook just enough to not have any leftovers (or maybe a work lunch).

              I'm lucky enough to be just a few minutes from my market, and I like to go every day. I'm not sure that I will ever be able to change my habit, unless I move to the hinterlands. We eat lots of seafood, so i want it to be consumed the same day. I don't really like to freeze meat. Perhaps, during this phase of life, I should reconsider. I think that I just like to cook too much.

              I like your idea about onions. I've done that for peppers and kept them in the freezer, because roasting and peeling peppers is time-consuming (and they freeze well). I've started using more prepared sauces - sear a piece of wild salmon and finish with a prepared mango habanero sauce. Microwave a heaping plate of spinach for 1 min in the microwave and toss with prepared dressing. I don't like cooking this way, but it works for now!

              1. re: rudeboy

                Exactly re: roasting/freezing peppers. I try and do about 6-8 at a time, and freeze on parchment paper, then peel off and slide them into a ziploc bag for later use, taking only what I need for that meal.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  As a serious "hobby" cook who drove my husband silly for many years with time-consuming cooking projects that rarely hit the table in a timely or useful fashion, I think you need to reconsider some of your habits and preferences to make your cooking more family friendly.
                  After all the main reason to cook is to get your family fed, not to have a good time cooking.Pursuit of the latter when everyone is tired and cranky can become a nightmare. Weekends are the time for relaxed kitchen experiements.

                  We found out years ago that pasta and a vegetable, or dishes such as indian curries, dal and rice, cooked on a weekend which can reheat or be supplemented over 2 or 3 weekday dinners with an extra dish or fresh raita, soups or stews that can be served for a couple of meals or even a pot of black beans for burritos, can, along with bread and cheese and salad suppers, worked for our family. We still rely on left-overs for many of our weeknight meals, since I get home late. My husband would simply go made if he had to wait for me to cook a full meal every night.

                  Also, working toward a better understanding with your wife is important..She is unlikely to come to share your values if there is time pressure, inconvenience or it food becomes a bone of contention in your relationship. Even getting your kids on board with your viewpoint could become a further source of dissension with your wife.

                  Moving toward some kind of common ground of understanding is going to be important to your future happiness!

              2. re: rudeboy

                Yikes. If your wife doesn't want any one-on-one time with you (sexual or otherwise, no assumptions being made there) it's extremely unlikely that cooking is your primary problem.

                That brig said, there are plenty of interesting meals from a wide variety of cultures that are pretty quick. I'm sure there are lots of quick meal books at the library as well as online. Then you could save the more labor-intensive meals for the weekends or maybe do some advance prep as LindaWhit suggests.

                1. re: ErnieD

                  Didn't mean to imply too much - but having young kids takes it's toll on the one on one time if you know what I mean! With so much to do (she works too, but there's school and daycare chores and now homework for my girl), there' barely any time. Just stating as a response that she doesn't feel that my cooking takes away from her time with me.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    Things are hectic when the kids are young. It'll slow down and get better once they are older. The key is not to let either partner feel neglected (unappreciated) until then. It's difficult and tiring to keep everyone and everything on schedule. During a quiet time, explain to her how you appreciate all the work she does to keep the family running smooth, then tell her it's important to you that the kids learn to eat healthy and appreciate a variety of foods. That it is something you want them to value throughout their entire lives and you believe it should start now.

                    That should work.

                2. re: rudeboy

                  You need to hire someone to do the house cleaning then.

                  1. re: law_doc89

                    Mrs. Rude is a clean freak, and there's no one that can clean properly. I know.......it definitely would help. The upside is that the house is always totally clean. She puts as much mental and physical energy into cleaning the house as I do into cooking. Two pillars of the temple, right?

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      I think you should demur, then, if she offers to cut your hair.

                      (As other posters have noted, there's more going on here than cooking, but with 50 offers of advice in less than a day, I'm hopeful you'll find some solace, and ideas for resolution. Good luck, rb.)

              3. I have a similar situation. I go to extremes about making stocks and sauces while making dinner. I butcher my own meats and fish, and roast and simmer bones while preparing the meat for tonights dinner. I make sauces for everything. A different sauce for each. A from scratch cook. No short cuts. I LOVE doing it. Demi-gaze, reductions, stocks and all the proper prep. I make dinners that make restaurant food seem like drive-thru stuff.
                I buy and wash and chop all my dark leafy greens. A job nobody wants to do in our house. No prechopped greens. No prechopped salads.
                The preparation of dinner is often longer than cooking times, of course depending on the meal, cooking time may have actually started from last night or this morning.

                We entertain often and our guests come very hungry. I do most of all the cooking in our home, she assists when appropriate.

                Left on her own, she will boil some pasta, sprinkle some cheese and call it dinner. Maybe order a pizza. No frozen dinners as she doesn't care for them, but, for dinner tonight she made....reservations....

                4 Replies
                1. re: Gastronomos

                  G, do you have kids at home? Ours are grown and gone with kids of their own. My meals are generally quite easy but I hope tasty. A protein, a starch, a "vegetable." I aim for 730 but am sometimes off by a half hour. But, if so, it's cause we got to watching one of our "liberal media" shows and couldn't tear ourselves. Bob will do ANYTHING in the kitchen that I ask. I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and, boy, has he ever stepped up! I wonder if you and rude-y got your wives into the kitchen with you. You know, a little slicing and dicing, or getting ingredients from the pantry and fridge. Or just sitting and having a glass of wine, if they'd feel more a part of the process. Just random thoughts from an old lady :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    c oliver. I am sorry about the RA diagnosis. It's great that Bob is stepping up. That's NOT marital discord. My wife helps with cleanup.....I'm pretty good at cleaning as I go, so we go 80/20. I do 80 percent of the cleanup (she might disagree) and she does the detail cleaning. We have two stations, so that helps to avoid bumping into each other.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Oh, no, far from it! I've just found that when I've gotten him involved (and BTW he LOVES good food.) he has some 'ownership.' He's become my go-to for roasting vegetable, for instance. He knows he can do it and I think likes being part of the process.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      She's become the best at chopping, slicing, dicing and general prep and help in the kitchen.
                      It's just a big difference in how we approach the kitchen.

                  2. If a delay in dinner time leads to later bedtimes for the kids, that's a problem. You might consider doing the time-consuming recipes after the childrens' bedtime, reheating the next day. As you surely know, some dishes are better the next day, and for the ones that are not.... you're feeding young kids, not Gordon Ramsay. They are NOT going to turn up their noses on Tuesday because of a Monday mornay. (Imagines Mama Cass singing "Monday mornay, warmed up Tuesday, Monday mornay, sometimes it turns a little gray").

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greygarious

                      Monday mornay is now in my repertoire for Tuesday! Love the Mama Cass reference.

                    2. Hey I like to cook and in fact am not Type A at all. My DH and I operate about as relaxedly as I imagine a two kid, two full-time jobs household can - kids being old enough for school and two sets of activities, but young enough to be quite high maintenance still with the bathing, brushing, etc (4 and 8).
                      And yet. I can possibly relate to your wife and how it feels when things don't follow the schedule. Sometimes it feels like 5 minutes late or one chore forgotten and things will spiral completely out of control.
                      Is it possible to figure out what the exact problem is and plan around it? Does she hate listening to whiny, hungry kids, especially when she is not in charge of the meal (I do)? Then plan on a plate of crudite/cheese/crackers for everyone to nibble on. Does she need some kind of relax/unwind ritual to help her relax *before* dinner so she is not on edge? That could be a glass of wine or a cup of tea, or walk the dog, take kids to the park, etc.
                      Alternately can you compromise some nights? Use the crockpot or reheat something that holds well so you can have good meals that take little prep time.
                      Remember that what makes a relaxing, fun hobby for you may be the opposite experience for her. I also value good food for my kids but I think that can be done without a lot of last-minute prep on weeknights.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: julesrules

                        I think you hit the nail on the head. It's just that food is not as important for her as it is for me. I want food to be important for the kids, though. I'm thinking that it is a critical time, when they're young, to establish "kid comfort food" that's not from a shiny box.

                        She doesn't sit down. She's fortunately and unfortunately like the energizer bunny. Always moving and doing something, and very schedule oriented. I'm not griping - it benefits me in numerous ways and we're a good team.

                        You are about two years ahead of me on kid's ages, I expect that it will get easier, and he harder later as they are doing soccer, band, and whatever. But I'd like them to be food-conscious at that time. That video showing the lunch preparation at a school in France really sets the tone for what I'm thinking. I'm trying to teach my 6 year old daughter knife skills. We made a stir fry together last week, and I pulled a chair up to the stove so she could stir.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          It just occurred to me that if there's even a little cloud of angst over cooking, it could plant a bad seed in the kids' heads. They could associate cooking and food as something not happy. Just a thought.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Yep. My cousins suffer from that. They eat fast food only now....

                      2. I hate to give dr phil advice but here goes

                        Its obvious you love to cook and enjoy food - this is a good thing for you, and for your kids in so many ways so its an important thing to hold onto and embrace - but perhaps especially as your kids get older it will be more challenging to keep it up all the time and your hobby risks turning into a family's burden (ugh dad is going all crazy in the kitchen again - I have practice I am just going to grab a slice) - this would be tragic

                        so perhaps as the poster above said its about compromise - find a good repertoire of dishes the kids like and that are healthy and time efficient without being a total bore for you to prepare - I am thinking simple stir fry, pasta dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients, a slow cooker braise etc on these nights you are still making good wholesome tasty food but also helping to make the household run efficiently

                        and then make one special night of the week Dad pulls out the stops night - where you have license to show off and strut in the kitchen some - maybe pair this with some other scheduling thing that conveniences DW make it something special and fun that the kids can look forward to and the DW can schedule you in to her matrix.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JTPhilly

                          Great advice. I've learned how to alter my methods to somewhat adapt to the new normal. As c oliver points out, food should be a celebration and thankfulness and not a source of angst. Definitely don't want to plant those seeds.

                          Fortunately, the kids will line up and watch me prep, and even participate/munch on raw veggies and such while I'm prepping. JTPhilly, you mention "simple stir fry," which we do often on the crawfish rig/wok outside. Only one dirty pot and I'm not in the kitchen. I never liked to buy pre-cut items for stir fry, but doing so saves on cutting time. It's just a lot more expensive.

                          1. re: rudeboy

                            .... soon you will little have sous chefs to chop those veggies if you play your cards right :)

                            1. re: JTPhilly

                              My 6 YO daughter said to me three days ago "in the olden days, people used to have servants." I replied "why do you think that we had you kids?" She's a little ham and gets those types of jokes.

                        2. I apologize if I repeat comments made by others. Being exposed to healthful and interesting food choices is important to children. So is having a set routine, with a regular bed time, and time built-in after dinner for baths and bedtime stories (and, as they get older, homework).

                          It's more important that your children eat at a regular dinner hour during the week than that they be exposed to "interesting" food. I don't mean that you should feed them microwaved junk food, but there are plenty of healthy and good dinners that can be prepared in less than an hour (many under 30 minutes), with a bit of planning. Save your fancy cooking for the weekend and work out a repertoire of meals that you can prepare in less than an hour for your weekday dinners. That also means doing your food shopping on the weekend so that your cooking is not delayed by the need to first go to the market.

                          That does not mean that you need to write out and shop for a "meal plan" for the week. As I've described in other threads that address meal-planning, our approach to weekday cooking is "Chopped" without the weird ingredients. I shop over the weekend for staple ingredients so that we start the week with a large range of vegetables and meats (as well as dried goods, and stock-piled frozen meats bought on sale, etc) from which we can make most of the regular dinners that are part of our standard repertoire. Sometime between when I leave the office and walk into the house, I've pretty much decided what I am cooking (or what my husband is cooking as we take turns). During the week, it's almost always something we've made before; the weekends are for experiments and more elaborate projects.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: masha

                            Great advice, too! I pretty much decide on what I want to make early afternoon. I've been going for 45 minutes entering the house to food on the table. I sometimes do not make it. More elaborate meals on the weekends, like smoked meats or a nice braise. Pantry is usually well stocked.

                            Do you find that a 20 minute delay crashes the whole evening? Homework can be done in the interim, but right now, homework needs mom's or dad's help.

                            I recently inquired Thai and Bangladeshi people about how children eat in those countries. In Bangladesh, the kids and women eat after the men from what I witnessed. there. Thai kids eat less spicy food and ramp up over time.

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              I was a single parent raising two kids. My kids ate more home cooked meals than any of their friends from "non-broken" homes.

                              You have to simplify your repertoire and save the fancy pants stuff (hollandaise?) for weekends. And 20 minutes can be critical when kids are hungry and grumpy before their meal. Be prepared to hand out nutritious snacks if you are running late. They can snarf up fruit or green vegetables with little impact on their dinner. Homework won't be done well if the kids are hungry.

                              1. re: rudeboy

                                My son is in his 20s so it's been awhile since this was an issue. And, he is an only child, so the post-dinner rituals of bath, homework, bed-time reading, etc were simpler (2 parents, 1 child). I am not saying that you need to sit down to dinner at exactly 6:30 every night (or whatever time you pick) but I do think that there should be a targeted time that you don't run past. Kid's get hungry, they fill up on snacks, and it screws up the evening.

                            2. Steadfast, sir! You are right. It will pay off in the very long term. Maybe teaching the kids to do some age-appropriate cooking would be beneficial.

                              1. I just want to say you have lots and lots of company on this issue. Most Chowhounds I know have a spouse who -at best- tolerates their love for food. There are many, many threads on this subject.

                                I wish I had an easy answer for you, Some of the suggestions above make commen sense, and you should try to simplify.

                                Personally, I think plain steamed vegetables taste best. So 4 minutes in a microwave steamer basket, and voila, I have fresh bok choy, broccoli, whater I want. Variety is more important than fancifying. corn on the cob, left in their husk in the microwave also works very well, by the way.

                                1. Here's hoping you have a pre-nup.

                                  1. Please try to keep your love of the gourmet life in perspective. You have young children---young children require care. Does your wife work outside the home? You describe yourself as a bon vivant. I can imagine busy high-pressure time-sensitive situations in which that might be a synonym for PITA. Friends over, long meals, enjoying the wine...somebody has to be putting the kids to bed, finally. If it always ends up being your wife (who doesn't appreciate the finer things while you are bon-vivanting away) then yes, there will be marital discord. Should there not be?

                                    1. It sounds like your cooking style is pretty intensive - single night meals, from scratch with fresh ingredients (no frozen), no leftovers by design, daily shopping. So I can see how this might pose a problem if you're concentrating on the cooking (a hobby you love) while your wife is handling all the other stuff involved with kids. Particularly if there is variation in when the food is ready.

                                      I suspect that your wife doesn't love house cleaning, bill paying and laundry the same way you love cooking. So what is a perfect situation for you, from her perspective may be you getting tons of time for your hobby, while she does all the scut work.

                                      So I think I'd work on streamlining your cooking style - shop twice a week, and have the seafood on the days you shop, so it's fresh. Concentrate on dishes that are good without being as labour intensive, and pair more involved main dishes with simple sides (and vice versa).

                                      Buy a chest freezer and embrace pre-cooking; have a supply of homemade pesto, Thai curry pastes, homemade pasta sauces, romesco sauce for seafood, chili, curries, Chinese dumplings, pierogies, ravioli, pureed vegetable soups, etc.

                                      This doesn't mean crappy food, or non-chowish food, just food that's chosen with an eye to efficiency.

                                      For example, if you've got the pastes pre-made ready, a meal of Thai hot and sour soup, green chicken and vegetable curry with rice, and a side of Thai style green bean salad can be done in about 40 minutes. Or cream of broccoli soup and pasta tossed with snow peas, red pepper, chicken and home-made pesto, in not much more than the time it takes to boil pasta, if you dig the pesto and soup out of the freezer. Or Moroccan lamb, chickpea and tomato stew (again, made in a big batch and frozen), with couscous salad. Or sauteed squid with lemon, garlic and olive oil, crusty bread to mop up the juices, lettuce salad with blue cheese and walnut dressing, and a greek style salad. Pork and cabbage okonomoyaki with a side dish of sauteed spinach with sesame dressing and miso soup.

                                      And then on Saturday you can indulge in the more complicated, gourmet-type cooking there isn't time for during the week.

                                      I think you'll find a lot of chowish people on the board who love complicated cooking and fine dining and good food, but who have found that when you add that to kids and two working adults to the mix, their approach had to change.

                                      22 Replies
                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                        Streamlining your cooking style is excellent advice. Use weekends to cook more intensive dishes and to do more prep for the freezer for the week (stocks, pesto's, baking, sauces, dressings ). Wow, it really is amazing the time it shaves off during the weekday when half the "heavy lifting" items are already done!

                                        Also, getting to master a pressure cooker makes a huge difference in timing for a "from scratch" cook. It makes dinner possible in under 60 minutes for almost anything.

                                        Pressure cookers allow for meals like Korean short ribs with rice and salads, bean soups and stews, all chicken dishes, curries, pot roasts, etc..all done in under an hour. It is a terribly underutilized appliance in the USA.

                                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                          > I suspect that your wife doesn't love house cleaning, bill paying and laundry the same way you love cooking. So what is a perfect situation for you, from her perspective may be you getting tons of time for your hobby, while she does all the scut work.

                                          This. It leaped out at me instantly. She's stuck with the obligatory, unpleasant chores, while you get the one that's not only fun, but completely discretionary. No wonder she's not happy with the situation. Why don't you step up and do some of the stuff that's less fun, to take it off her plate?

                                          > she takes care of ALL the laundry, most of the kid's school stuff, accounting and bill paying, and a lot of the house cleaning. It's almost the perfect scenario.

                                          Perfect for whom? Sounds like a nightmare from her perspective.

                                          1. re: travelmad478

                                            I can see how that would seem to be the case, but she actually dreams of quitting engineering and being someone's accountant for personal expenses. This woman keeps a spreadsheet that has been running for eight years, of gas purchases for the car (milage, gallons purchased, and calculated mpg). The mpg never changes.

                                            She doesn't even want me to do laundry, and since she had been part time at 24 hrs per week, and since we have had full time daycare for the kids, she has the time. We gravitated to what we each naturally want to do. She also likes to pay the bills on the day received.......picks up the mail the minute she gets home, sorts and recycles, and writes the checks or sets up payment. She is a wonderwoman in that regard. She does these things automatically, seemingly without any effort or complaint.

                                            I take care of food shopping, cooking, everything outside (lawn, house, etc.) and always worked 50 plus hours per week. Plus, I provide the direction, financially and otherwise, strategy, and all that.

                                            If I come home with a pre-made item, ready to eat, at 6:15, then she is as happy as a clam. It doesn't even have to be good. But if I cook and plated not until 7, then there's the discord. Just wondering if others have experienced the same.

                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                My husband likes to cook more than I do, and so normally it's his job. I love eating his cooking- he's very much a wing it and improvise kind of cook, and most of it is delicious.

                                                Except... on a weeknight, he wants to make x, y, and z with a, b and c sauce, etc. And I'm hungry! At the time I want to be eating, he's starting the marinade! So after getting antsy and angry at him for being the cook, I now just eat something as soon as I get home: a green salad, a few pieces of bread and butter, and this keeps me from pacing the kitchen floor for two hours.

                                                We don't have kids, so the timing is only my problem, but maybe you can do something similar- a few small snacky things for the kids, scale things back slightly on weeknights, as others have suggested?

                                              2. re: rudeboy

                                                You know, you've mentioned several times that she's pretty type-A, and that seems like the problem. I say, as a total type-A myself, that it would bug the hell out of me if you said dinner was going to be at 6:15, and it was actually at 7:00 because you were making something complicated and didn't get everything together in time.

                                                I'm not saying what you're doing isn't a good idea - I really think what you've mentioned about exposing the kids to good and interesting food is completely the right way to go. What I am saying is that delays of the type you're talking about are frustrating and annoying to type-A personalities, and, from her point of view, it probably looks like you're being careless and disorganized. (Because, at least in my type-A world, people who are late are always being careless and disorganized. I know that's wrong, and yet, on an emotional level, I still always think that.)

                                                So, it seems to me that you should go out of your way to set a time for dinner to be on the table and then make it happen, whether that means you make something simpler, leave work early, do advance prep, or do your shopping on the weekends. That concession seems like a necessary one, because, again, speaking as a type-A person myself, she probably can't just turn off the frustration she's feeling.

                                                1. re: gildeddawn

                                                  Yeah - appreciate the comment. I've lately been doling out appetizers of some sort....carrots and hummus, or something to tide them over if I'm doing something more complicated. It can be hard to leave work early, or even on time. Having to shop ahead is a clear diagnosis. I've been addicted to a NYC type of lifestyle where one picks up what they need on the way home!

                                                  But, I will say, if I'm even 10 or 15 minutes late, that can be an issue. I can understand 45 minutes.

                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                    I have not commented yet since you have received lots of good advice-pre planning, shopping in advance, feeding the freezer and the like. However your last statement really hit a home with me. When my marriage really started fall apart it was signs like that that should have been a red flag. If she is disproportionately aggravated/angered by 10 minutes it has a LOT more to do with than dinner being late.

                                                    Have you sat down and talked about it? I mean *really* talked and more importantly *really* listened? I am the main cook in my family and do 90% off it. But even now with a 12 year old the focus of meal time continues to be NOT about the food but the time together. It's about sharing information, listening to stories about each other's day, modeling good manners and proper cutlery use and conversation skills. Would I love to spend hours each day lovingly putting together fabulous meals, gorgeously plated? You bet. Buts it's not all about me.

                                                    Trust me the time with a small child will fly by. You will have plenty of time to make those complicated dishes. Save that energy when you you do have the time-weekends, vacations, holidays. Focus now on getting simple, delicious and nutritious meals to the table in a timetable that works for majority.

                                                    I would also gently recommend that the two you try to get some time alone, maybe somewhere neutral, and talk about why eloborate meals are so important to you and listen to why eating in a timely fashion is so important to her. Compromise works both ways.

                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                      "If she is disproportionately aggravated/angered by 10 minutes it has a LOT more to do with than dinner being late."

                                                      You know, it really doesn't. She is a time-freak about things. She will schedule things at odd times, like 3:10. It is intolerable sometimes. There's so many things that I appreciate about her, but I think that it is more of her OCD than my bon vivant nature. I was really more interested in how other's hounds have navigated these issues. The OCS thing might be slightly off topic.

                                                      I've learned to navigate this situation since having children. And then there's the whole other issue of having to back off on spices and such. I returned to more of french style cooking. My daugher said "hey Dad, it's not spicy - it's good!"

                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                        Maybe she doesn't care to have every one of her traits ascribed to 'freakishness'. Seriously, this doesn't seem to be about food at all.

                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                          No, it's all about food for me. That's why we're here.

                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                            re-read that statement and then try to remember once you have get married, once you have kids it really isn't all about what's important for you.

                                                            I am curious why you are not willingly to compromise at all?

                                                            You have gotten so much great advice on here on how many of us manage to get delicious, wonderful meals on the table every night and still meet the needs/wants of our spouses and children. Why not try them?

                                                            I do it by meal planning, batch cooking and keeping a well stock pantry. I work at balancing my needs/wants with those of my husband and son and they do the same.

                                                            They know that the weekends are my time to cook "elaborate" meals but I also know sometimes my son rugby matches or my husband desire to watch college sports are going to take priority. It's about balance, compromise and communication. Great traits to model for your child.

                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                              I think that I have openly explained my compromises and tactics to ensure harmony. I was simply just trying to find other people's experiences with the issue, assuming that I was communicating with people who love to cook. I'm sort of surprised at (some of) the responses received on this board. No malice whatsoever; to me, food is an everyday thing, and the most important for camaraderie, laughter, and healthful time together.

                                                            2. re: rudeboy

                                                              Maybe for you, but that could be the problem. This isn't something to be shared or solved by chowhounds, because the way you are characterising your wife and the issues you face suggests there is far more at play here.
                                                              (Consider this: Every request to consider your wife's position on this issue is met with a form of dismissal; foodie or not, that is not conducive to addressing what seems to be an issue in your partnership.)

                                                              Please do take this with a grain, but in this one-sided characterisation of things, I can't help but feel something crucial is missing.

                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                I'll take that with a grain.....and I'm not a foodie, I'm a chowhound.

                                                        2. re: foodieX2

                                                          <If she is disproportionately aggravated/angered by 10 minutes it has a LOT more to do with than dinner being late>

                                                          I know someone like this, who happens to be a woman.
                                                          Her husband and children are at the receiving end of her obsessive compulsive multi-tasking, perfectionism, victimhood, anger and high expectations that everything run HER way.
                                                          She's a wonderful friend and we all love her because she's always there for everyone, no matter what time of day.
                                                          She's so hell bent on keeping everything pristine, on time, etc., that she doesn't really focus on the things that mean the most to her family.
                                                          I wouldn't necessarily look to the husband (OP) in this case for the cause of her 'disproportionate aggravation and anger'. My friend has issues that stem back way before she met her husband and even the calmest of situations she's like a bomb ready to explode.
                                                          Having a great meal on the table isn't something that should cause this wife to become aggravated. I agree there might be other issues but it's not necessarily the husband who's triggering them.
                                                          As the OP mentioned, 'food is an everyday thing'. Yes, it is.
                                                          The OP is making the attempt to raise his children with some manners, some sort of appreciation for healthy, good food and along with all of that comes lots of object lessons that are invaluable, one of which is family time.

                                                        3. re: rudeboy

                                                          Ah, but you underestimate the intensity of type-A-ness, especially under stress (which, I assume, as the parents of multiple children, is a constant state for both you and her). 10 or 15 minutes would be enough to make me snappy and annoyed, especially if I were wrangling children - or, frankly, even if I weren't. I'd be like, "Just get it on the table like you said you would! Why is it ALWAYS like this?" (Again, not saying that's the right reaction, just saying that's what would happen, in my head if not aloud.)

                                                          It's not about how much it's late, it's about you upsetting her sense of control and order, and adding stress to the evening (without meaning to). The other posters who are saying she could stand to relax a little aren't wrong, either, but speaking as a type-A, it's easy to say and nigh impossible to do.

                                                          You'll have to love her and be patient with her anyway, just like my very patient husband does with me. (Also, I do the cooking, so I can get dinner on the table exactly when I want to.)

                                                          1. re: gildeddawn

                                                            Appreciate the comment, gidedawn. I often wonder how the human race survived during our evolution in hunter gatherer times.

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              By eating whatever came to hand, as soon as possible and as fast as possible, to avoid starvation.

                                                          2. re: rudeboy

                                                            rudie - "I've been addicted to a NYC type of lifestyle where one picks up what they need on the way home!"

                                                            I was that person until I lived in a sketchy neighborhood with no car and worked 50+ hours a week, by the time I came home (only 6 or 7 PM) everything decent was closed. I definitely learned the principle of pre-need planning. Saturday or Sunday was major market day, my lunch hour on Wed. or Thurs. was spent walking 20 minutes in horrible car-culture traffic each way to a decent supermarket, storing it in the office fridge and carting it home on the train. while shopping I may not have had a specific idea to do with whatever I bought, but found that flesh I froze myself that night or the next night wasn't so bad if one uses it soon or a commercial bag of vegetables if one is careful about over-cook.

                                                            weekends (Friday included) could be the blow-out meals, weekdays could be simple but day old fresh ingredients or were well considered leftovers, often morphed and re-purposed (and that's a fun challenge in its own right).

                                                            and I know that time-toe-tapping, I try to help my parents by cooking on occasion, but god forbid if it's not ready between 5 and 5:30 even if that means disaster.

                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                              Oh, yeah, that 5-6 pm dinner time. My mother slavishly served dinner at exactly the same time every night. I'm not sure what she thought would happen if she was late with dish-up.

                                                              We eat whenever it's ready and we feel like it. My son didn't grow a third ear or become a murderer or anything over it.

                                                        4. re: rudeboy

                                                          Will it change anything about your life if someone else has experienced the same? Currently 50% of the adults in your house are not happy with how the meal situation is going. Any way you cut it, that's not really great news.

                                                          FWIW I'm by no means an advocate of a 50/50 division of food labor unless that works for you. I like cooking and therefore do 99% of it, and after watching my parents argue for 45 years about how my dad does the dishes wrong, I really prefer to clean up too. My husband likes anything that plugs in, so he pretty much deals with all electronics, vacuuming, etc., and the stuff that neither of us enjoys we divvy up. But if your wife is unhappy with the current regime, wouldn't it be best to figure out how to address that?

                                                    2. If the issue is timing- as in 15min or so, maybe you can keep some pre cut snackable veggies on hand to put out as a "first course" so no one staves to death before dinner is done.
                                                      If more often than not dinner is a half hour or more later then planned I can see how that would create additional issues with routines and bedtime- in which case you will have to re-evaluate how ambitious you are on a weeknight.
                                                      Perhaps you and your SO can agree to a 15minute buffer zone for timing.

                                                      I fondly remember setting the table and peeling carrots as a kid- maybe if they can "help" you as well the overall benefit to your family of being able to sit together and eat a homemade meal will be more readily appreciated.

                                                      IMO you sound heroic with daily shopping as well, but you may need to re-evaluate your dinner strategy to include components made ahead on the weekend or just low prep ones to reduce stress around dinner time.

                                                      1. I love to cook; in fact, in later life, it has become my business. BUT, when our girls were born, both of us were working full time. My DH and I had an agreement that I would cook the evening meals, as I was a more experienced cook. However, after waiting, with hungry kids, for the nth day in a row, while I was working late, he stated, "Dinner in our home is at 6. If you are not here, we will need to go ahead without you." And he agreed he would cook all evening meals Monday-Friday.
                                                        The point of this was: In accommodating my desire to cook, my family was in a difficult situation, of hungry/tired kids and father. So, in order to achieve family harmony, I released some control over weekday meals, and took the weekends to express myself in the kitchen.
                                                        Later on, after their father passed on, my girls learned to make their own meals during the week, in order to accommodate their schedules. I made sure that there were lots of healthy ingredients for them to work with. And, on the weekend, I would make extra portions, to be reheated as needed.
                                                        Both children, now in their late 20s and living abroad, are very interested in food, and cooking. :J
                                                        p.s., you could make your own "stouffers lasagna" by freezing individual portions of your favorite recipe.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: KarenDW

                                                          Great reply and I'm sorry that DH is gone......

                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                            Thanks. We had 25 good years together :) raising ourselves (married young), and then our kids. Lots of difference of opinion over when and what to eat! But really, when there are children in a home, their basic needs may need to supersede your own food creativity. I'm not suggesting that you stop serving good food. Rather, that you may have the (personal) capacity to reconsider your boundaries on scheduling/scratch-cooking/packaged foods.

                                                            And now I am w/ DH2.0, and childless. Still lots of difference of opinion over when and what to eat :)

                                                        2. Interesting responses I'm reading.
                                                          I'm also reading responses that are, for the most part, based on contemporary cultural norms.
                                                          I've raised two 'children' who are now in their 30's.
                                                          They have very fond memories of me cooking/baking and prepping for dinner and other meals throughout the day.
                                                          My days (I didn't work outside the home while raising them) were mainly focused on what we would have for dinner. I would shop, daily, for the foods I'd prepare for that evening. I spent lots of time in the kitchen preparing with my children watching while I did it. It's how they both learned about great food and how important a kitchen is in the home….most of our time was spent there and, as adults, they've carried on the tradition with their families.
                                                          I would only use 'shiny boxes' when it wasn't practical to make meals any other way and those times were very few and far between.
                                                          The times around the dinner table were some of the most valuable times we'd spend as a family. Each of my children would have something on the table they'd helped make and they learned lessons in cooking and self esteem with their results. There was never any 'marital discord' as you're describing…in fact many decades later I'm still doing the same thing with my children gone out on their own. I still cook and bake and we sit at the table talking over great food. I love, and always did, the contribution I was making with my children and their upbringing. I would never have done it any other way.
                                                          In my opinion your wife needs to calm down a little, give up a little control and learn to appreciate what you love to do…your children will highly benefit for your talent, in many areas.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            They're contemporary cultural norms because we live in contemporary culture. The OP's wife does not have the privilege of not working outside the home. I'm not sure why it's all on her to accommodate, although it's nice that this worked well for you.

                                                            I love family meal times too, and they're often better at 6:30 when everyone is a little hungry and ready to chat than they are at 9 because you felt like making osso busco on a week night was important.

                                                            1. re: ErnieD

                                                              ErnieD - I'm not making osso busco (sic) during the week and eating at 9. That was before kids. For the most part, I have dinner plated by 6:30 or 6:45. I'm trying to talk about minor annoyances regarding 15 minutes or so with a spouse that's a little OCD. You gotta live o eat and eat to live, right?

                                                              1. re: ErnieD

                                                                <because you felt like making osso bus>co (sic) during the week night was important>

                                                                My family ate dinner no later than 6:30pm every day during the week. There was school work, bathing/showers after school activities, etc. on top of making sure there was a healthy, delicious dinner on the table for the entire family to enjoy.
                                                                It was my pleasure. I enjoyed it and everyone benefited from it.
                                                                The OP requested responses regarding his cooking creating 'marital discord'. I'm saying I don't understand a wife complaining about her children eating great meals that her husband is creating. She, in my opinion, should calm down and enjoy the help that's obviously given with love.
                                                                That's all and BTW I worked my ass off (literally have not worked that hard anywhere else), in the home even though I wasn't working outside it. I always find humor in people referring to women or men, who don't work outside the home, as lazy with no other interests. It's an exhausting, although very rewarding, job with little to no down time.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  I think that I'd go completely nuts fulfilling a stay at home mom role (although I would be a stay at home dad). We chose full-time day care for their socialization and such. Not that I think that a stay at home person is not the right way to go for many - I respect that role and am humbled by those that can do it. My wife, being part time, had leftover time for the stuff that she does, and we had extra money to put in savings.

                                                                  I think that my answer, after reading all of your wonderful suggestions (!), is to prep the night before, deciding what I want the next day. Maybe even going to the market after the kids are down. Cut everything up and have the meat in the spice or marinade. Wife does need to chill a bit, though!

                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                    I love your plan.

                                                                    Your children will highly benefit from all your hard work and thoughtfulness. You appear to be a wonderful father and a great husband with a very proactive approach to your lives. I promise, with all the work you put into this, that your children will have very fond memories and the kids they bring home will also love you for it.

                                                                2. re: ErnieD

                                                                  <we live in a contemporary culture>

                                                                  Yes, we do. However, if that 'contemporary culture' in your definition means not having sit-down, healthy, more than 30 minute duration meals then I don't participate in that part of the culture.
                                                                  My meals are 7 days a week, always have been. I set my table, have fresh flowers and candles and it's a time when many topics, including the food on the table, have and will be discussed. It's a time to come together, calmly with the phones shut off, and recognize each member of the family and celebrate them.
                                                                  Old fashioned? Perhaps. However, it's worked for me and my family and I have no regrets. I can't imagine a spouse not appreciating and respecting it especially when they know their children are going to benefit from it.

                                                              2. You need to show her that processed food is garbage, will make her kids struggle with obesity in later life (full of excess sugar) and destroy the cultivation of their palates.

                                                                Men have always enjoyed cooking more than women, and most of the great cooks are men. I suspect that since women are expected to cook traditionally, men find it creative, and many women find it a source of resentment.

                                                                At some point hope she has the empathy to understand this is a hobby and a source of care taking on your part.

                                                                Most people today over schedule and over program their kids out of some sort of competitive insecurity; it undermines family and free time that is necessary for good personality development. She needs to chill and reassess the kids schedule to see what is important ultimately.

                                                                44 Replies
                                                                1. re: law_doc89

                                                                  Not sure where you're from but in my parts, men for the most part hate to cook. There are other reasons (sociopolitical reasons) that most great cooks are men, same reasons most great presidents, lawyers, doctors, etc are men.

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    But, most great chefs are men. Not incompatible observations. My point is why there are women who not only dislike cooking, but actually resent it.

                                                                    I may have put too many points in one post and lost the main point: family meal time is much more important psychologically for the kids than many of the activities that no doubt fill the schedule.

                                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                                      There are women who resent cooking because they deal with it as an expectation, whether they enjoy it or not. Men who cook, even it it is just grilling steak, are lauded, while women who cook are treated as though it is expected. Men who don't cook are perfectly normal, but women who don't cook are failing as caregivers. As fldkybnva stated, there are social/cultural reasons why most great cooks are men. Restating that most great chefs are men doesn't really address this.

                                                                      And family meal time is only really "important psychologically" if it's working for everyone. If you're able to put a meal on the table at a time that is functional for you family to converse and bond, it's awesome. If mom is pissed and the kids are frustrated because they're starving, no amount of cooked-from-scratch or shopped-for-it-today is going to make that meal a pleasant or nurturing experience.

                                                                      1. re: ErnieD

                                                                        I don't think that it is really a gender issue. I could be a woman, and my wife could be the man and it would be the same complex. My wife does heroic things, but just doesn't see food the way I do (my daughter and I have the joke about the seafood diet, btw). Having said that, my wife will eat practically anything.....from spicy as hell to any type of variety meat. I was totally surprised that the Philly girl could challenge cajuns in her crawfish peeling skills.

                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                          "my daughter and I have the joke..."

                                                                          Back to the marital advice part of your thread--
                                                                          Please don't collude with one of your children against your spouse, no matter how convivial or cute.
                                                                          Your child is not your peer.
                                                                          Your wife is [should be].

                                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                            Umm, I'm not colluding against my wife, but just sharing a joke with my daughter. It's when she opens her mouth and I can "see food." We all laughed together when my daughter made the joke herself.

                                                                            She is a ham. And she knows the joke about Uranus, too.

                                                                          2. re: rudeboy

                                                                            That's perfectly fine. I was responding to the statements "men have always enjoyed cooking more than women, and most of the great cooks have been men" and "there are women who not only dislike cooking, but actually resent it," neither of which were made by you.

                                                                            "Get in the kitchen and make me sandwich" directed at women by men as literally become a meme, and there are plenty of men (albeit a decreasing number as time passes) who think cooking is women's work and beneath them. It absurd to say that only women resent cooking. This obviously doesn't apply to your marriage, though.

                                                                          3. re: ErnieD

                                                                            My point is that it is due to the ability for men to have cooking as a free, creative outlet, rather than as an expectation. Re-read what I wrote.

                                                                            However, whenever I see such an imbalance, one party who enjoys something greatly, and the other party treating it like no big deal, I have to begin to speculate on what is going on. Mere manners and a good faith spirit of comity, should impel even forced appreciation, and if I read the situation correctly, that is missing here.

                                                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                                                              I get what you wrote.
                                                                              Looking back, I admire my mom's cooking efforts.
                                                                              I'm more "gourmet" than she was, but she was a SOLID home cook who could turn out meals just about every night, even after she went back to work full time.
                                                                              After my dad passed away, it sucked the joy out of a lot of things, cooking included, but she forged on.

                                                                      2. re: law_doc89

                                                                        Law_doc, I agree with you that processed food is garbage, but the assertions you make in the last three paragraphs of your post are tough on my palate.

                                                                        I don't believe women (or men) fit neatly into the lyrics of "Mother's Little Helper." My dad loved to cook; my husband hates it. That probably has more to do with their ethnicities or childhoods than their Y chromosomes.

                                                                        Entertaining and having friends over for fine dinners may be a hobby, but feeding children is not. My bedtime at the age of R's children was 7:30. That meant homework (albeit Pre-K/first grade homework) done, fed, bathed, read to and tucked in by that hour. It's fine for grownups to linger over dinner til 9 or later; not so much for kids this age.

                                                                        The wife doesn't need to "chill," and I don't believe she's competively insecure. She does need to ditch the boxed crap as staples. But she's not all villain, and he's not all in the right.

                                                                        Above all, the kids shouldn't be used (albeit unwittingly) as pawns in an argument about eating/cooking/ personality styles that were present before the Rude and Mrs. Rude married...and had kids.

                                                                        Sounds like Mrs. Rude has a ton of stuff "on her plate" during the week. Maybe the weekends would be the best time to be the Bon Vivant, and healthful, delicious, scheduled meals should rule the day during the week.

                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                          I think that love for cooking, entertaining, and such is more of a DNA thing (rather than gender, race, geography).

                                                                          We have enough trouble getting the damn kids to bed anyhow. (Not sure if you are aware of the book "Go the F to Sleep!"). I cannot imagine them going to bed at 7:30. My 6 YO is in kindergarten now, so she has to be seated by 7:45 AM. Still, they are up past 9 PM. Sometimes past 10 PM. Even with the 8:30 edict.

                                                                          I like the idea of two different meals, but I also like having dinner together as a family. The upside? We eat a lot of fish, which can be prepared very quickly. I like to do a light smear of curry paste and a little salt, using prepared curry paste, served with the go-to cucumber, tomato, and avocado salad with prepared dressing. Highly satisfying meal that can go from fridge to table in 20 minutes.

                                                                          And I don't want you guys thinking that it is too much of a thing. The prep and timing results into minor bickering during the week. I was mainly wanting to hear about other people's experiences with these types of issues.

                                                                          As pinehurst connoted, the weekends are much more relaxed and bon vivant.

                                                                          (I'm in Austin TX by the way fldhkybnva - where are you?).

                                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                                            It's tough for kids to get to bed (and to sleep) if there is a lot of stimulation before bedtime (as you know). It's not a lot of sleep for a 6yo if she's up past 9 and probably up at 6/6:30 to get ready for school.

                                                                            But, more to the point---sitting down at a family table was important in my house. You can do it now, before the call of student clubs and friends compete for your children's time. Couple time, with glass of wine or coffee and chocolate can come after the kids are tucked in.

                                                                            Kudos on having the kids try and enjoy fish!!!! Seriously!

                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                              <You can do it now, before the call of student clubs and friends compete for your children's time>

                                                                              My kids, in high school, were into all sorts of after-school activities with friendships galore.
                                                                              I never stopped having dinner on the table from the time they were infants until they left to go to college.
                                                                              Interestingly, they'd bring friends home during those dinner times because those friends loved the idea of sitting down with family…they weren't getting it at home because the parents were too busy to make the effort. Apparently they'd eat dinner standing in front of the fridge. They loved our home and my kitchen was really, now that I look back on it, the focal point of our conversations where they all felt comfortable enjoying the food I made.
                                                                              Having children branch out as they get older isn't an excuse to not have a meal at the end of the day for everyone in the family to enjoy. I relish those times and so do my kids and husband.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                Latindancer, kudos to your childrearing. I am glad it was such a satisfying experience for you, your kids, and their peers.

                                                                                It's a bit more difficult when the mom also works outside the home in the 2014 economy. Also, not sure what sport clubs your children were into, but depending on when fields/rink time is available, dinner before 6:30 for teens isn't always feasible. Is this unfortunate? It is--the parent can keep the hard and fast dinnertime during the week and nix participation in certain activities, I suppose.

                                                                                And while I'm glad that your home was a haven for your children's friends a decade or two ago, don't assume their parents were "too busy to make the effort." That's dismissive. You don't know what was going on in their private lives, or in their homes.

                                                                                There are many ways that parents can express love and care for their children and spouse. Food is just one of them. It's an important one, as are reasonable bedtimes when kids are young (10PM is WAY too late for a preschooler/1st grader to be up), but only one facet of good parenting. We're here as Hounds because Foodlove is important to us. It's not as important to everyone---which is something to consider when aligning values--or not--when choosing a spouse and deciding to have children (or not).

                                                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                  Good points all, Pinehurst.

                                                                                  My husband and I both worked full time our entire adult lives, excluding the 3 months that I was home on maternity leave. We were fortunate enough to have in-home child care. From infancy through his early elementary years, our caregiver typically gave our son his dinner before we got home. That does not mean that we did not share family time together each night. In fact, when he was an infant & toddler, our first activity when we got home at night -- before we prepared dinner or ate -- was his bath. In his infancy this was, of course, in the kitchen sink and later moved to the bathroom. One parent washed but we both were there, singing songs, saying nursery rhymes, etc. When he was really young, this was immediately followed by bed time story & tuck in, before we had our own dinner. As he got older, he would sit with us at the table.

                                                                                  And, he still had plenty of exposure to food and cooking as a toddler and pre-schooler (and older). In those years, my husband did 99% of the cooking, and on weekends my son was invariably by his side in the kitchen, making little meatballs, peeling carrots, etc. He was sufficiently educated and interested in food that I still remember a vacation, when he was 2-1/2, where he and I were sitting on the stairs in the shallow end of the kiddy pool and he was "making" soup with a play pot & spoon -- telling me as he added the "garlic," "onion," "tomato," and stirring after each.

                                                                                  When he got older, he played organized ice hockey and this wreaked havoc on the concept of sit-down family dinners, as practices were typically in the early evenings and he needed to eat dinner before hand. (Add into all of this that he is a Type-1 diabetic so strenuous activity on an empty stomach is dangerous.)

                                                                                  1. re: masha

                                                                                    How lucky for him that your planning made food a source of nurturing and learning, and not stress. It was also a creative way to make sure your little guy was loved before taking care of your "couple" time (and your own meal--both important!!!) And as he got older, knowing how to make good choices was essential--for every young athlete, but esp when any metabolic issues are present. Wicked cute pool "cooking" image too!

                                                                                    I think you pointed to the idea that there's more than one way to assure that kids are nourished and loved, and more than one way to be a good parent and a good spouse.

                                                                                  2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                    <You don't know what was going on in their private lives, or in their homes. That's dismissive>

                                                                                    Of course I did. I was friends with most of the parents of my children's' friends. It was a small community and the majority of kids came from professional parents…doctors, lawyers, etc.
                                                                                    The parents of these kids were very happy to have their kids be at my home. They were busy people and oftentimes weren't home for dinner themselves, …I'm not being dismissive, what I'm saying is pure fact with no judgment on my part…it was the way it was. They were exhausted.
                                                                                    The OP mentioned something that is important to him…he was asking for feedback.
                                                                                    Having dinner on the table was important to my family, as I've said. It still is. I loved to cook, still do, and from what I've experienced my kids have benefited from it, highly.
                                                                                    Their peers did too.
                                                                                    While I know it's important, for parents who are either unwilling or too exhausted to do it, to rationalize only cooking on weekends for their children…I'm saying it can be done for those who want to do it. I wanted to give my children the experience I had growing up. I wanted to be there for them during the day if they needed me. I would have 'gone without' just to be able to do it.
                                                                                    As I mentioned…

                                                                                    Having dinner on the table was a huge social, calming, connecting experience for not only my family but the kids I also fed from parents who couldn't/didn't make the effort for whatever reason. These parents I'm talking about made priorities…not having meals at a table was on the bottom of their list.
                                                                                    BTW…my kids were very active all through school. Varsity sports/music/theatre were all on their list on after school schedules. Dinner was on the table no later than 6:30 every night…they looked forward to it. I was, luckily and with hard work, able to master everything I did as a mother and was highly supported by a very loving husband…I'm proud of the work I did with no regrets. It paid off and now my time is for me and the passions I put on hold.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      Latindancer, respectfully, my friends (even my closest confidantes) don't know *all* of my/my H's business, nor do I presume to know theirs...no matter how small, large, privileged or distressed the community. That's why we call our private lives, "private". If you indeed knew all of your children's friends' parents' smallest triumphs and tragedies, you are a rare exception.

                                                                                      You have my sincere praise for your exemplary child-rearing. <I'm saying it can be done for those who want to do it.> But it is not true that all parents today can give their children the same experience that they had growing up, even if the parents truly wish for it to be so. It is not that simple.

                                                                                      The OP married and had children with a woman who did not share what is clearly a huge passion in his life--cooking from scratch and entertaining. These are difficult passions to maintain with children who ought to be in bed not terrifically much later than 6:30. Not everything here is black and white....it's not processed food versus 10:30 bedtime. There's a happy medium. Likewise, there are plenty of Moms who have social, calm, connected kids who cannot choose to be stay-at-home Moms.

                                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                        <Likewise, there are plenty of Moms who have social, calm connected kids who cannot choose to be stay-at-home Moms>

                                                                                        Of course there are.
                                                                                        Pinehurst. My response(s) are not to challenge you, compete with you.
                                                                                        I do know very skilled, intelligent, worldly and cultured parents who DO choose to NOT stay home because they just don't care to do it…they'd be bored to death and their careers seem much more inviting and rewarding. They freely admitted it and I think it's important to stress that not everyone in 2014 'needs to work'. It just isn't so. Staying home with children is not for everyone, I know that, and their children turn out to be stellar, kind, compassionate, educated, and connected adults. Nobody's debating that.
                                                                                        I did, however, choose to do it, and the rewards for me and my family were more than I could have hoped for.
                                                                                        My children were never in bed by 6:30 ('they ought to be"??) and they turned out just fine with more than the necessary amount of sleep.
                                                                                        I don't know many high school students who are in bed by that time, do you?

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          Never felt in competition with you latindancer. I left all my competition on the courts in college.

                                                                                          Oh, absolutely not to Hschooler in bed by 6:30--I agree. Highschoolers have sports and jobs to hold down after school, plus homework and chores around the house (at least I did; I'm sure you did in HS and your kids,too).

                                                                                          OTOH, preschoolers in bed by 7:30 or 8? Sure, if the family is up at 6ish to get the 1st grader to school on time. That's not possible if dinner's not til 10 sometimes, as OP wrote. OP's kids are 4 and 6 I think. So a lovingly cooked meal if not served til 9:30 is probably not in those kids' best interest during the week *at their ages*

                                                                                          You're right--not everyone in 2014 needs to work. But in my circles (Greater Boston area) unless one is married to a man or woman with an excellent and secure job--well into six figures every year, with a great retirement plan and other benefits package, it is hard to feed and educate and support the participation in sports/hobbies of kids on one income while paying the mortgage, utilities, insurance and car bills. I realize mine is an expensive part of the country.

                                                                                          And again, I was sincere in my kudos to you for making what was a rewarding choice for you and your family.

                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                            <preschoolers in bed by 7:30 or 8?>

                                                                                            You raise a very valid, interesting concern for parents who work outside the home.
                                                                                            I've talked to colleagues over the years, while working in my field, who're struggling with certain problems, as every parent does.
                                                                                            They and their spouse are professionals and their child is left, from the time they're born essentially, in the care of somebody else beside them. They typically start the day as soon as the child wakes, being given over to the caretaker, and they're back home with, perhaps, an hour before the child goes to sleep to connect.
                                                                                            To have dinner on a table seems an unlikely scenario given the circumstance. It's an interesting difference in the way mine were raised and I'm wondering how it's done, successfully. In two of the cases, I've been asked about with colleagues, the children struggle. They're begging for more attention from their parents and it's been very difficult for all.
                                                                                            You're right…a 'lovingly cooked meal' is about the last thing anyone is thinking about in these families.

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              Read my comments upthread, about how bath & bedtime preceded our (the parents') dinner when our son was young so that we could spend quality time with him before he went to bed. While, undoubtedly there are families with 2 parents working fulltime outside the home who have children who struggle, it can be done successfully. I've done it and have many friends who have as well.

                                                                                              1. re: masha

                                                                                                Obviously this doesn't work for all parents who work but for many, like you, it does.

                                                                                                In both of these instances, both parents don't need to work. It's a choice for both.
                                                                                                The children are very attached to their caregivers and it's set up some struggles for both the parents and the child.
                                                                                                It becomes a little more complicated, as is everything with raising children.

                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  For me the frustration is the lack of part-time, meaningful and/or well-paying work that keeps me "in the game", so to speak. It's a very all or nothing decision for me: work full time in a "career" job and go nuts because we don't have enough time in the day to run a household and raise children, or stay home and give up not just income but long term career potential, pension, and possibly the lifelong ability to support myself should something happen to my husband or marriage. There's very little opportunity for a happy medium. And I at least got decent mat leave as a Canadian.
                                                                                                  So despite my husband's decent income that he has grown into over our marriage, I don't feel I have much of a "choice". Maintaining the ability to support myself and my children long-term is pretty deeply ingrained as something I need to do.

                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                    Agreed, I've seen too many women give up their careers to rear kids only to have their marriage go sour then struggle mightily when they have to re-enter the workforce after being out of it for 20 years. Women, keep learning & earning & progressing in your career. Depend on yourself for survival! My mother went back to work when we were young (out of necessity)and we turned out fine. I believe it's better for kids not to have their mother around all the time. It takes a village and kids should experience new faces & places continuosly.

                                                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                      I guess I got lucky then.

                                                                                                      I gave up my career, to raise kids the way I wanted to, and was able to re enter without difficulty.
                                                                                                      I understand your dilemma, truly, and it really is a complex matter for many, not all.
                                                                                                      Then, of course, there are those who don't care to stay home, no matter what their future holds. They allow someone else to do the job of their children's child raising because they don't want to do it.
                                                                                                      It's all very complicated and not one part of this fits the same for the next person.

                                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                  We were one of those families when our kids were young and its something you have to struggle with - in our case, my husband made the choice to be the one to reliably be home, relieve the babysitter and get dinner on the table for the two of us and, later the kids when they could wait a little longer .More time cooking dinner on weeknights would have meant less time at table together as a family as well as less time to read, hang out and, later help with homework after dinner. We always enforced an early bedtime (8 or so when they were young) because it was necessary for their wellbeing, given their early school hours. I knew many people who had overtired kids because of their (the parents) guilt and need. And we delegated the bathing to the babysitter (I pretty much never bathed my own children, sigh). All that to say that the time eating together, being together is much more significant to the family than making a big daily thing over cooking. Believe me, I cooked like crazy on the weekend, and the family benefitted all week. We bought wonderful bread, fruit and other ingredients, and the kids were exposed to fine flavors.

                                                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                    "being together is much more significant to the family than making a big daily thing over cooking."

                                                                                                    Exactly. That is the message that a number of us have been trying to convey to the OP.

                                                                                                    1. re: masha

                                                                                                      "being together i much more significant to the family than making a big daily thing over cooking"

                                                                                                      Yes, and I was, luckily, able to do all of it including the cooking/baking. We were together during key parts of the day and I enjoyed the domestic part of all of it. It was my choice.
                                                                                                      The OP, I believe, understands all of that. The OP also wants to be able to cook for his family which is certainly doable, based on his description of the dynamic of his family.

                                                                                            2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                              <nor do I presume to know theirs>

                                                                                              Pinehurst, in the context of the families I knew….they were professionals who openly admitted they didn't like to cook or do anything other than what was absolutely necessary during the week for their families. Their children ate when/whatever they wanted to from the vast array of precooked food from the freezer.
                                                                                              Did I know anything about their sex lives? Did I know what their drug of choice was? Did I know what went on behind closed doors of their home?
                                                                                              Certainly continue the debate if you feel the need but I'm not talking about 'privacy' issues here. I'm talking about openly admitting their choices they made.

                                                                                    2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                      Fair enough, but I can't help but wonder - if your wife felt more relaxed & happy with the evening routine maybe she would need more alone time with you?
                                                                                      (you brought this stuff up ;) )

                                                                                      1. re: julesrules

                                                                                        I know I brought it up. Maybe I'm on the couch here! It's pretty simple, she doesn't "work" that way. Last thing on her mind after the kids and all.

                                                                                        I was more interesting in knowing whether others had chowhound issues with spouses that don't care so much about food.

                                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                          Oh absolutely--I care much more about food than my H. I think there have been threads on this. My H is a much less adventurous eater. Buuuutttt you asked also in the context of having kids to feed and care for, so you're not just husband and wife--you're Dad and Mom. Different ballgame, my good man. ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                            So true - it is a different ballgame now......

                                                                                          2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                            My husband doesn't really care about food but we don't have kids. I cook and he's happy to eat anything that fits into his food preferences. He's been in school for the last year and a half so I'm looking forward to a lot more cooking!

                                                                                            I generally choose the restaurants and I do all the grocery shopping. I enjoy it but I imagine it would be different with little people running around.

                                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                              Well assuming she worked more "that way" before kids, I can offer hope that when they get a little older and things a little less hectic, things may improve :)

                                                                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                My husband cares about food and wine (definitely something he has come to appreciate) but he has always gotten hungry faster than me, and deeply appreciates a definite mealtime When we had kids to feed it was even more of an issue. Both wandering around trying to find the perfect restaurant and waiting an extended period while I finixh a complex meal prep make him deeply unhappy. You are not going to change your wife's basic personality and metabolism - people just differ in this way - its not unreasonable freakishness. If you love your wife and kids, you will try to adjust and care for them the way they need to be cared for - and hopefully some of your love for food will rub off too.

                                                                                            2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                              Go right now please to www.dinnerlovestory.com

                                                                                              jenny rosenstrach Dinner: a Love Story. Get this book (library) she's writing your story. 2 adults, fulltime work, then 1 daughter and then another. how to make family dinner - she is a funny, quirky honest writer - loves to cook. she tells the (hard) truth and the sweet stuff. I can't recommend this too much - she knows this from the inside out. go right now!

                                                                                                1. re: kariin

                                                                                                  karin - for some reason, that link will not load for me. I'll try again after I reboot the next time.

                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                    Try my link, I think she forgot a letter.

                                                                                                    1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                      Hey, thanks Jules, much better

                                                                                                      Dinner, a Love Story/

                                                                                                      I hope everybody interested in this topic will get this book - check out this website. Now there's another part - a workbook,
                                                                                                      This is so on-topic. Altho Jenny is the main blogger/writer there are _many_ posts from her husband Andy, who also takes on cooking responsibilities. They both love food, love their girls and were absolutely determined to recreate family evening meals in the current world - not 1950s.

                                                                                                      They are so honest, about toddler melt-downs (and adults) falling off the wagon, getting stuck in ruts, food wars, happy meals (no not those), and making it work.
                                                                                                      these are good people. go visit them.

                                                                                                2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                  See my above post. Psychologically, the family meal is one of the most important thing a family can do. Yes, some people need to chill; when you have kids you sign up for things as a package, and sometimes that means doing things you might rather not.

                                                                                                  Further, there doesn't seem to be such a great time pressure if the kids stay up so late. Slow down the evening, include them in the cooking and have a more calming evening; I think bed time will become easier too.

                                                                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                Glad to have stimulated so much response. Stand by ALL of it..

                                                                                                Spouse. according to other posts, is OCD and, maybe, needs Prozac. (:~)) Research is solid on over programing of kids at expense of family meal.

                                                                                                Stand by assertion that men are great chefs because it is a creative outlet for me, an obligation for women.

                                                                                                So, cook veggie dish for hungry kids, and serve first, while making salad, then get to "main" course. No desert except Sunday, when usu jello. Cut half of kids' activities, and you will do better.

                                                                                              2. Hey all - didn't mean to turn this thread into "what's wrong with rudeboy's marriage," and it's okay with me that it headed that way, although I was mainly interested in hearing other's tales of successfully coping with a spousal difference in cooking philosophy. I'm an open book, and will continue to respond to all, though!

                                                                                                I'm a closet counselor and love to help my friends.

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                  haha your taking it on the chin like a sport- most posters cry like babies or disappear altogether after they open a can of worms on themselves.

                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                    Ha, I'm super guilty of participating in that component of of the thread-thanks for being a good sport about it...

                                                                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                      We are happy to tell you what is wrong with your marriage.

                                                                                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                                        Probably the funniest comment so far on this thread.

                                                                                                        Rudeboy - Are you ready to let this thread go yet?

                                                                                                        Because I think it's fixin' to get a whole lot worse:-)

                                                                                                        Good luck!

                                                                                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                          Let's take it up a notch! I love you people........

                                                                                                    2. Hi Rudeboy, I am definitely a lot more interested in food than my spouse. If he were 100% in charge of dinners, it would be nonstop pasta with jarred sauce, frozen meatballs, tater tots, etc.

                                                                                                      I work FT and do most of the cooking. However, our 2 are both teens and have weeknight activities so many meals are very simple - soup (made ahead) + salad; stir fries; omelets; grilled meat and veggies. All things that can be made in less than 30 minutes. On the weekends I make more elaborate fare.

                                                                                                      Respect your wife's desire for a routine, streamline your methods, and save the true experimenting for weekends. Your kids will figure out what's up.

                                                                                                      1. Marriage is a trade off. I love to cook inside and he always offers to grill outside. If he does cook inside he leaves the dishes greasy after washing them. I make the checks out and vaccum. We take turns with laundry. And I don't have to call a plumber, carpenter or anyone else some of you do because he takes care off all that. I have him and he has me:-)

                                                                                                        p.s. - I think you're handling this thread really well.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                          Oh yes, I'm the plumber and electrician. I can do both, so we never have to call in a specialist. I plumbed and wired our entire remodel.

                                                                                                        2. Man, this thread has been fascinating. And you're being a champ about all the tangents, rudeboi. :)

                                                                                                          Just a note on my friction with the husband, also time issues. For him, "in 5 minutes" means up to 15-20" sometimes more; "gimme 15 more minutes" means "I'm gonna finish this no matter how long it takes". "A couple" means 3-4-5+. I'm like your wife in terms of time.

                                                                                                          We've had long discussions over the years about expectations. Ultimately, his fluid, loose interpretations of time meant he was unreliable; his answer of "Well, I was only 5 minutes late!" didn't address the fact that I never knew just HOW late something would be (getting ready to go out, finishing an email, picking me up at work) and the uncertainty was the problem for me, not the 5 minutes. Does that make sense?

                                                                                                          People who like things timely know when to cut their losses. If I need to serve by 7:00pm, then I need to start finishing at 6:50pm even if that means no fancy sauce or garlic bread, not work up until the last minute. My husband still struggles with this concept. If we'd had kids, I'd be in prison lol.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                            I like your spelling of "rudeboi." You must have been to Jamaica or are a rasta.

                                                                                                          2. How flexible is your work? Could you get there half an hour earlier and leave early?

                                                                                                            In reply to your last question, I am by no means a Type A personality but I am in a situation similar to DuchessNukem. My partner has no concept of time or how long things take and thinks nothing of having dinner ready at 9:00 pm sometimes... so I think having tension over 10 - 15 minutes is a bit of overkill. I don't make a fuss though, I just raid the pantry when I'm hungry to tide me over until the main event. I think for me, it's the inconsistency that causes resentment. I have no idea if dinner is going to be 6:30 pm or 9:30 pm and that's pretty frustrating.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                              When you have small kids, they tend to be hungry NOW. That last 10-15 minutes can be torture for them and those around them!

                                                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                That is true. I guess what I meant was, I wish that 10-15 minutes was the extent of my problem!

                                                                                                            2. If exposing your kids is important to you, I am perfectly okay with some kinds of shiny boxes. Most Chinese food fans I know buy the occassional bag of frozen dumplings. You need to make this easy on yourself, plus it's fun and makes for really cheap and varied exploration.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                Oh, prefab dumplings are a staple here Totally satisfying.

                                                                                                              2. You need to view fine cooking as your hobby that should only be indulged when all the "chores" are done hopefully using an equiable divison of labor. I can see both of your points of view. I think you need to be fair & streamline your sustenance cooking to make it both good & fast. Save the three hour reductions for weekends or whenever you have more leisure time.My life loves to garden and she frequently spends hours plucking weeds and tending to her flowers. I still experct her to do her share around the house even though the garden work sometimes exhausts her, and she does because she chose gardening as her leisure time hobby. Before I retired I used to prepare good meals when I got home from work in an hour or less. It takes planning but is not hard to do. I'd do some prep, if needed, the night before or early morning. I'd use slow cookers, crock pot & sous vide to cook all day.Prep larger quanties of sides (vegetables pasta rice potatoes) so you have them for several meals, etc. It's not the quality of the food that bonds a family @ dinnertime it's the quantity of time spent sharing a meal that does.There's a commercial currently running on television about a young man starting out to write The Great American Novel but not sitting down to finish it until he's retired because his "life got in the way". Marriage is a compromise, you want to watch the WWE & your wife wnts to watch Downton Abbey so you find a middle ground and watch a show neither of you likes:)

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                  I could not agree more that it is the time sitting together as a family over dinner that is important, versus the food supplied. My mother worked throughout most of the time when I was growing up because my father died when I was young. It was incredibly stressful for her to get walk in the door and get dinner on the table for her 2 daughters every night but she did it. Her cooking was serviceable and there were some convenience foods involved (rice-a-roni, red sauce for pasta). But every evening we sat down as a family around the table and talked about our day.

                                                                                                                  (And, btw, I am not sure that sitting in a line along a counter or island provides the same family interaction.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: masha

                                                                                                                    My (sainted) mother worked a stressful job, got home @ 5:30 & put dinner on the table for four hungry men. I don't know where she found the strength but she did & rarely complained. We had to be home for dinner, no negotiation, even if you were tied in the bottom of the ninth. The interaction @ our dinner table (no tv allowed) from three generations was very important in my development.

                                                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                      Yeah, the WIf eats standing up at the island. Quickly. I have to fight to have a quality dinner, laughing, at the long dinner table. Candles are a distraction. I'm doing everything that I can, but one has to live, right?

                                                                                                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                        It's not about the candles or otherwise setting a beautiful table and serving restaurant quality food. It's about breaking bread as a family. Our table growing up was set with a plastic cloth, with mismatched plates and flatware. It didn't matter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                          Maybe that's how it was done in her house growing up? Eating on the run when convenient. Meals were and are a sacred time to both my wife & I. She grew up with the same values, tough NYC cop @ the head of the table asking every kid what they did that day. She has fond memories of growing up & sharing family time together. You seem to be trying but she's not being receptive. Maybe she's ovrwhelmed and views each day starting with a checklist of everything that must be accomplished before she can go to bed again? I wish you luck my brother!

                                                                                                                  2. Rudeboy, read the whole thread and had a couple of thoughts:

                                                                                                                    Do you think it could help if the two of you sat down once a week and planned out the coming week's menus? It might be a compromise for both of you, cutting your spontaneity and forcing your wife to designate half an hour to an hour a week to talking about something that doesn't interest her much, but maybe that compromise would help both of you out. --You like thinking and talking about food, and it seems like she needs a certain measure of control and predictability to feel safe and happy. This would also let you make a master shopping list and set a game plan for the whole week. I think it's helpful to look at meal prep more as a weekly marathon than a daily sprint.

                                                                                                                    Another thing that worked really well when I was doing a lot of cooking and childcare for my sister's family and my parents was to make it a hard and fast rule that every day (even on pizza nights or Chinese food nights) the first course is that each person gets a big bowl of steamed vegetables with a little salt and butter which must be consumed in its entirety. I started doing this because no one was eating sufficient vegetables. My sister and her spouse like restaurant-y meals and platings and those are usually light on the veg, and my parents think of vegetables as condiments. But it ended up being the best ever time management technique because I could have those bowls ready at 6:30 sharp and while they were eating it, I could finish whatever else I had to do while munching on my own steamed veg. It's also such a great gift to give kids an appreciation of vegetables for their own flavors, and to get them used to eating a healthy ratio of vegetables to other stuff. (Interestingly, the kids who were the least keen on vegetables liked this ritual best, because it got it over with and left them free to enjoy what they did like in peace. That seemed like a good life lesson, too: Do the stuff you dread first. -- You'll realize it's not that bad and you'll have the fun stuff left ahead of you.)

                                                                                                                    I think your idea of shopping and prepping at night after the kids are in bed is great if it doesn't wear you out too much. I used to do the same. The grocery store at 9 or 10 PM is a beautiful thing.

                                                                                                                    Two things I wondered about after reading your post are: Who does the cleaning up after you cook? How often do you entertain friends at home? And how much notice does your wife get when friends are coming over?

                                                                                                                    You seem like a good-hearted guy and I wish you the best.


                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                                      Great idea on the veggies first. We actually practice that, because if there's noodles involved, those two locusts will lap that up and ignore the main item and veggies.

                                                                                                                      We have a 90/10 rule on cleaning. I'm a good "clean as I go" cook, and she does the detail work. So 90 percent of the cleaning is done while I'm cooking.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                                        _you_ seem like a good-hearted guy, too - what a good idea about the veggies - I'm stealing this one. I think the only change might be to change the dressing re: the direction of the rest of the meal: toss w/olive-garlic oil if the meal is heading Italian or Medit.; or sesame/peanut oil; or chili/garlic oil; I have lots of flavored oils/fats and just a very small amount changes the direction of the flavors and that means a better meal.
                                                                                                                        love this idea - thanks

                                                                                                                      2. "Marriage destroys hope"........... Woody Alen

                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                            "Love hard when there is love to be had." - Bob Marley (in honor of your CH name, and because I love that there are two ways to read it.)

                                                                                                                            1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                                              You get my CH handle - not many people do.......

                                                                                                                                1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                  I've never seen this before, so thanks for sharing. I'm going to post this on facebook. Here's where I got the handle (see the pin on the lapel):

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                    I had nothing in the way of marital advice to offer so I thought a little ska was in order: ;)

                                                                                                                                  2. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                    HAHA That was my immediate reference too - but I am a big ska/punk nerd

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                      I thought it was from the Specials myself.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                        I think that's why so many of us feel it's just natural to shorten his username to 'Rudie/Rudy'

                                                                                                                                        and if our vintage threads hadn't worn out 30 years ago, a lot of friends would STiLL be dressing that way.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                            Nice link. I'm not so sure that rudie can't fail!

                                                                                                                          2. I have experienced conflict like this, fortunately not with my husband, who appreciates the time and planning required to make a really good meal.

                                                                                                                            My family of origin is a different story. My mother eats to live, and that's it, so when we visit, there's often a battle over what restaurant we'll go to (she likes restaurants that have a view, even if the food sucks) or what she'll let me cook in her kitchen. ("oh, just use a store-bought pie crust. no one will know.") It drives me nuts.

                                                                                                                            I think if I were you, I'd find a few minutes alone, maybe on a date night, and just say something like, "I know food isn't important to you, but it is vital to me. It's both a hobby and a way of feeling alive. I'll respect that you want a spotless house if you'll respect that I really need to be able to make nice meals." Or whatever.

                                                                                                                            1. Be careful.

                                                                                                                              Did you want CH to chime in on our love for food, great cooking, and the advancement of fine cuisine? Over family??

                                                                                                                              You are complaining about her personality traits [something fairly set] in opposition to your food choices [something you select each day/meal].
                                                                                                                              You claim that you are the flexible one, but you don't seem willing to change.
                                                                                                                              Doesn't sound flexible...

                                                                                                                              Your "bon vivant" vs "OCD" set up is pretty charged.
                                                                                                                              Your "shiny boxes" vs "cook interesting things to develop ...palate" is also pretty charged.
                                                                                                                              Your recipe sounds like a not-thinly-veiled "I'm better."

                                                                                                                              The solution, based sheerly upon what you've said were her complaints, is for you to adjust the amount of "the effort and the time" so she encounters neither.
                                                                                                                              Move your prep time.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                Hey man, this is chowhound. We love to cook and eat. I'm not saying that I am better, I'm just wanting to hear other's experiences in this matter. Yes, my wife is OCD, but she's wonderful. Looking for camaraderie.

                                                                                                                                1. re: rudeboy


                                                                                                                                  It just seemed that you asked food-friends for marital-maintenance-> how could we really help?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                    Good god. I wish I hadn't started this thread. Turning into a train-wreck and I can't look away!

                                                                                                                                  2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                    I think you've got a fairly clear consensus from the responders, and heard their own experiences.

                                                                                                                                    We love to cook and eat. We also understand that we have to interact with the rest of the world, including family who would rather have food on the table on time than a gourmet meal that's frequently late, kids who need to be fed on schedule, and employers who won't let you take off work early to grocery shop.

                                                                                                                                    And that means compromising. It can mean doing prep work and pre-cooking on the weekend, freezing meals for weeknight use, or saving labour and time intensive meals of the weekend.

                                                                                                                                    You've gotten some responses that agree that being annoyed when dinner is 10 minutes late is unreasonable. I don't think I've seen any that give advice on how to explain to your family that your devotion to nightly gourmet cooking is more important than what they want or need.

                                                                                                                                2. food is your thing. It isnt her thing. It is how you show love. By her griping it is almost like she is dismissing your gift of love. I remember once myaunt chastising mymotherfor spending somuch on parties and entertaining...her response was "we dont go Vegas like you do, we dont golf once a week like you do. We cook andgatherpeople we like tospendtimewith around and socailize and have fun..it is what we are it is whatwedo." The thing is having a food culture in your home brings so many benifits.the togetherness in the kitchen and around the table the learning toaccept differences in other people through food makes more tollerent and accepting adults.... If I were you I would take over packing your sixyearolds lunch box so you can help develop interest in food there. Then I would maybe engage some fun date night cookingclasses with wife and food bed and breakfast weekendsthat show how the beauty of food is not a burden...

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                    The lunch box is a great idea! It's a way to be creative with food, engage the daughter, and not annoy the wife. Awesome, girloftheworld!

                                                                                                                                  2. "Marriage" is a weird social construct.

                                                                                                                                    1. If you get the food on the table on time, and your wife is always happy with what you cook, and she still gripes about the effort and time then I am baffled at what more you can do. (My girlfriend's ex-husband thought cooking was a waste of time and would eat standing at the stove/sink. She gave up after 7 years.)

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                        Funny that you mention that. I think I posted before - she will eat standing at the island, very quickly. The good thing is I can make incendiary curries and she will consume vigorously.

                                                                                                                                      2. Sounds like you and your wife are not on the same team, and it's critical that you are for the kids.

                                                                                                                                        I sense your partner is dismissive of your contribution to mealtimes and discounts your efforts. It's also passive-aggressive to "eat standing up at the island," when others are engaged around the table.

                                                                                                                                        Cooking and mealtimes are more than food to you -- they are time for family togetherness and cultural exploration -- and important. That's not being respected. Imagine how your wife would feel if you discounted her efforts with the "laundry, most of the kid's school stuff, accounting and bill paying, and a lot of the house cleaning" the way she discounts your contribution to mealtimes.

                                                                                                                                        What this says to me, with the amount of tension between you two, and the kids' stress, is that you need some sort of counseling, both as a couple, and as a family.

                                                                                                                                        The meal-time issue is merely a prism for larger issues of control and disrespect, over child-rearing and house management. And your marriage sounds like it needs a tune-up. You two are not acting like you love each other and need to make changes to get on the same page, especially as you shepherd these children into becoming fine people.

                                                                                                                                        1. Thanks to a little bout of insomnia I read this thread at 2am last night and did a double take when I got to this part...

                                                                                                                                          'We have enough trouble getting the damn kids to bed anyhow. (Not sure if you are aware of the book "Go the F to Sleep!"). I cannot imagine them going to bed at 7:30. My 6 YO is in kindergarten now, so she has to be seated by 7:45 AM. Still, they are up past 9 PM. Sometimes past 10 PM.Even with the 8:30 edict.'

                                                                                                                                          Is this the true cause for the dinner disagreement? I wonder what mornings are like at your house. How is the kindergartener doing with this late uneven bedtime? Is your dinner timing creating problems for your wife to get the kids in bed? I would deal with this issue first and then tackle the food issues. Get professional advise. Ask your pediatrician how many hours of sleep a 6 year old needs and be sure she gets it. Any input from the teacher? Do you arrive on time for school? Does she have breakfast at the table with the family?
                                                                                                                                          Perhaps your daily shopping could be for a really terrific breakfast instead of a sophisticated dinner. While the kids are in bed at 8 - 8:30 being read to by your wife, you could be proofing bread, making a fresh fruit salad, baking muffins for breakfast. Or you could be doing a total prep on TOMORROW night's dinner so you can get it on the table fast or your wife could put a Zuni chicken or a meatloaf in the oven before you arrive. I'm sure her organizational skills could handle that. You could try shopping a day ahead- 24 hours isn't going to hurt fresh ingredients these days. Food is transported much faster and modern refrigeration holds freshness longer than things did back in the day. For all of your family's sake I hope you can come up with a happy solution.

                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                            I had these same thoughts -- that the real issue here is delayed bedtimes and the ensuing stress every morning of getting the kids up and to school on time. If that's how each morning starts, passive-aggressive behavior over Dad's gourmet dinners are not surprising. As many have said upthread, now that we have all chimed in with suggestions about how to streamline the weeknight dinner prep, the balance of the issues here are truly not about food.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: masha

                                                                                                                                              I love the way that this thread has progressed, but I never intended it to be so personal.

                                                                                                                                              Mornings are fine because Abigail can't be tardy. Henry is still in daycare, but the location is close to her school, so we have to get his ass in there early. We used to have more flexibility when they were both in daycare,

                                                                                                                                              Hat's off to all you moms and your mothering skills. Happy mom's day!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                Sorry if I seemed to personal but a lot of what you said reminded me of my life as a young Mom. :)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                  (Just getting back to this thread) Oh, it's okay with me. I need to hear the full gamut of personal experiences, and I'm all ears when it comes to advice.

                                                                                                                                                  I will say I'm a little bit surprised at some of the responses here, but I'm only dismissive of but one of the replies. That's a joke to make people wonder if it was theirs. I'm not dismissive of any.

                                                                                                                                                  I can go to the market at night and do some prep. That's what I will do, instead of trying to pack it all in after work.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                    "I'm only dismissive of but one of the replies. That's a joke to make people wonder if it was theirs. I'm not dismissive of any."

                                                                                                                                                    Damn, rudeboy, you are nicer than I would be. I wish you would not have pulled your punch about only disliking ONE of the replies - that was brilliant.
                                                                                                                                                    Seriously I hope you did actually gain something from this increasingly brutal discussion - there was plenty of wheat to be found here among the poison and the chaff.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                              Berheenia, I agree this could be the core issue. Even though we often ate at 7 or 7:30 when my kids were younger due to work schedules, I was pretty anal about them being in bed by 9. I like the breakfast idea. Sharing your love of cooking with kids can happen at any meal! Just this morning, my 12 year old came in to strategize about his breakfast. He ended up making a patty of leftover mashed potatoes with fresh parsley mixed in and a fried egg on top.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                Holy crap, I think I was still eating Count Chocula at that age!
                                                                                                                                                That's really great.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                  I love fried eggs on top of potatoes. Baked or mashed. Mornings for us right now are pretty harried.

                                                                                                                                              2. If your wife is feeding the kids "things from shiny boxes" you are up against it. Most processed conveniwence food has the flavor amped up with added sugar, salt & fat, As Dr. Robert Lustig the noted endocronologist/author says in this interview on NPR "How many times did you have to introduce a savory food to a baby before they would accept it? On average 13 times, that's what science says. But if the food is sweet, how many times? Just once. We are programmed to like the stuff (sugar)".How many among us given no nutritional information wouldn't choose a Butterfinger over broccoli?

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                  I'd love more info on why we are programmed to like sugar? Not innately, I'm guessing.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                    Read this interview I referenced. According to the good doctor we are programmed to seek sweet things becaue glucose is the fuel of life and there is no food in nature that is both sweet & deadly.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                      Good to know, I've gotten good in my old age in resisting too much sugar and carbs. I'm not saying all, by any means.

                                                                                                                                                2. I just want to show my support for you.
                                                                                                                                                  It's wonderful that you are giving your children (well, whole family) such a gift.
                                                                                                                                                  It's a shame your efforts are not appreciated, and I feel badly for you about that.
                                                                                                                                                  The love and nurturing that you're providing should be honored and be met with eternal gratitude.

                                                                                                                                                  DH is thrilled that I'm a pretty darn good home cook and we eat very, very little in the way of processed food.
                                                                                                                                                  He shows me how much he appreciates my cooking ALL THE TIME, and does the dishes as a way of saying "thank you' and to show how much he values me, and the way I show my love for him.

                                                                                                                                                  I hope that you get that at some point.

                                                                                                                                                  You deserve it.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                    "The love and nurturing that you're providing should be honored"

                                                                                                                                                    Don't Hold: See BREATH.

                                                                                                                                                  2. You area married to a refueler. I don't know if a refueler can change.

                                                                                                                                                    You are doing the right thing by working to prevent your kids from becoming refuelers.

                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                      <a refueler>

                                                                                                                                                      While I realize I'm outdated with the way I raised my children, based on what I've read on this thread, and I'm considered by colleagues and friends and family cultured and worldly I've, surprisingly, never heard this term.
                                                                                                                                                      Do you mind describing 'refueler'?
                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, in advance.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                        Food is fuel. That's all. There is little to no enjoyment of it, as Chowhounds tend to have in excess. :-)

                                                                                                                                                        Chowhound's early mantra was "Live to eat." That's rudeboy.

                                                                                                                                                        And there are those people that just eat to live. Sounds like rudeboy's wife is one of the latter.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                          I'm a refueler when DH and I are driving long distances.
                                                                                                                                                          I want to get from point A to point B.
                                                                                                                                                          No smelling the roses!
                                                                                                                                                          Grab something. Pee. Fill the tank up and go!

                                                                                                                                                          Other than that, I'm rudeboy.
                                                                                                                                                          I'm also guilty of tinkering and dithering too long in the kitchen, but I'm just cooking for DH.
                                                                                                                                                          I'm sure if I had kids I'd be more on point.

                                                                                                                                                          I do have dogs who understand exactly when dinnertime is ;-)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                            Hi, latindancer. I just made it up (refueler) for people I've encountered who view food as a necessary but uninteresting thing. They feed only for survival and do it quickly and efficiently in a joyless fashion. Not sure what causes it? How they grew up? Few tastebuds? Don't feel like wasting the time to enjoy it?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc


                                                                                                                                                              It really does put this entire thread into perspective, for me anyway.
                                                                                                                                                              Yes I've known, and still do, know 'refuelers'.
                                                                                                                                                              I can see how the refuelers would tend to look at the 'other side' as over-the-top food obsessives and can't understand why they'd put the effort into it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                I worked with a woman who had a PB&j almost every lunch, and it would literally annoy her that she had to eat/multi task in the middle of the day.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                  I know a woman who takes meat of the freezer (she buys a side of beef) about an hour before her family needs to eat.
                                                                                                                                                                  She defrosts it under warm water, puts it on top of the stove, fries it up and everyone stands around the pot of meat with a fork, standing in front of the stove, and then takes whatever else they need from the fridge.
                                                                                                                                                                  I often wonder why she just doesn't go to Taco Bell every night and bring home everyone's order. It'd be alot cheaper and less hassle for her.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                      Fast forward X years and the spouses of those children will be posting on Chowhound about how their husbands/wifes can't enjoy a family meal.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I understand that there actually are people out there who are not interested in food, and that is fine. But by eating her meal standing up rather than joining you and your children at the table, your wife is modeling atrocious manners for those kids. Her behavior is just plain rude.

                                                                                                                                                          Does she want to raise children who are socially and professionally disadvantaged because they have no manners? Maybe she could at least consent to take a seat for their benefit. Perhaps that could be the beginning of learning to relax and enjoy her dinner, though that might be unrealistic. Would giving her a glass of wine help?

                                                                                                                                                          1. In response to several different posts on this thread, I just want to say that the family meal can also take place at a restaurant. Some of my best childhood memories are of going out to dinner with my family, something we did frequently even on week nights. Everyone was relaxed and happy. That is also important.
                                                                                                                                                            My husband and I valued the family dinner from the get-go, it is very important to us. My kids are well aware that bread, pizza, ice cream, pudding etc can all be made at home from scratch by their cooking-obsessed mother, with their involvement when they feel like it. Frankly they find grandma's instant pudding more intriguing at this point! Since I currently find myself quite disinterested in cooking at the end of a workday, we eat out about once a week. My kids are discovering Turkish, Northern Chinese, and Viet food. And yes sometimes we go to the burger place. They are still learning about good food and we are still having family time together. Without Mom being miserable.

                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                              Great point.
                                                                                                                                                              Eating out can be done more frequently if you have the "ethnic" eateries nearby.
                                                                                                                                                              It also introduces new flavors.

                                                                                                                                                              We didn't get to eat out much as kids, but I looked forward to it and enjoyed it, that's for sure!

                                                                                                                                                              I think moms and dads need their own nights out to eat.
                                                                                                                                                              Those were the times my mom would serve us franks and beans or Chef Boyardee and believe it or not, it was a treat.
                                                                                                                                                              It was like breaking the rules.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                agree with this! regular (during certain periods weekly) outings to dim sum parlors, chinese, vietnamese and indian restaurants, good pizzerias, as well as takeout bahn mi and freshly made mozzarella with fresh italian semolina bread and farmers market tomatoes in season , as well as travels to places where good eating was prized was part of my kids growing up. We always have had good bread and cheeses including top quality parmgiano on our table.There are lots of ways to expose kids to good food and develop their taste and discernment in this area, not all require hours in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                  Totally agree! And every "study" I have read states that what is eaten or when it happens has little to with benefits. It's the act of doing it-breakfast, lunch or dinner, take out or homemade, is what matters and the point is to try as many days a week to make it happen.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                    Great point - luckily, the kids are adventurous so far with eating out. My daughter loves seaweed soup from our local viet place, and also S&P crawfish tails with butter over lettuce. Singapore and udon noodles are a hit from a local chinese restaurant. We're lucky to have a real charcoal burger restaurant (grandfathered having been there so long) that has sharp cheddar as a cheese option.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                      I get the feeling every meal for you needs to be "adventurous" and that could get wearing on the rest of the family who might be just fine to have a burger with American cheese and would like to have a meal where the ingredients are not always the topic of conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                        Well, the timing thing has actually made me a bit more creative to have fast and more simple preparations. I'll do a braise or smoke something on the weekends. Sometimes, just making sandwiches is a good idea. I think that when the kids are older and we can eat a bit later, I can do longer preparations.

                                                                                                                                                                        Stir frying with already prepped vegetables and 8 minute fish are common now.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                          YAY! rudeboy and the family win.

                                                                                                                                                                          the great thing about this thread - and you - is that you are open to changing your plans and not getting stuck as so many people do. Your family is lucky to have you and maybe you can let us know what works and which suggestions have been good ones. You are definitely not the only one on CH facing lots of family challenges around food. - are the girls helping? what do they like?

                                                                                                                                                                          so, what's for dinner?? smile.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                                            The kids are a little bit young to really help - my 3.75 YO boy. Actually watches me more than I would expect. Tonight, thin ribeyes in sweet chili and soy, flash fried. Thankful that all four of us like medium rare!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                              At that age, "helping" from the kids probably slows you down; you've got to teach and supervise them. But, it still is a wonderful time for interaction and cultivating their food interests. Kids who "help" cook food, even if the help only consists of a few stirs of the spoon, are more likely to eat unfamiliar dishes -- by helping, they take ownership and pride in it. Given the time constraints of weekday meal prep, it's best if you can enlist their help during weekend cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                              Your 6 year old should be able to help in simple tasks with minimal supervision, I would think -- at least in laying out utensils and napkins in setting the table (maybe not breakables). Also, at that age, our son was reasonably adept at peeling carrots, using a T-shape peeler.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for making this point :)
                                                                                                                                                                      As a young couple, my DH and I had "date night" once a week, which included a meal out (sometimes weekend lunch). When we had children, we incorporated a meal out into the week's schedule. Sometimes it was lunch, sometimes dinner; with others, and without. (Lucky me... 2 meals out, a week!). My extended family, of Chinese descent, always included the young-ones in a dinner invite.
                                                                                                                                                                      I'm grateful that I was able to share those experiences with my children, who now live far away.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. I think you should take time out of the equation and cook for the next day. Cook pack up reheat and cook the next one. The scheduling won't be as bad and you won't rely on the shiny boxes.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I've read most of the replies to this thread and decided to (finally) chime in. I'm the main (only) cook in my house and the mom to 3 kids. One is away at college, one is in high school, and one in middle school. I've been doing this dinner thing for a family for about 20 years.

                                                                                                                                                                        I know you like to shop the day you cook but you really need to meal plan. The every day shopping is what is eating up your time. You can make it so your plan is somewhat flexible but weekly/semiweekly shopping is your friend right now. You also need an arsenal of pantry meals so if you do have a night you are late from work, you can pull out one of those. By not shopping every day, you gain that extra 15-30 minutes that are an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                        As your kids get older, their schedules get more and more complex. We try to eat as many meals as possible as a family. Tonight we sat down at 8:20 for dinner. Because my kids are older, eating late isn't an issue.

                                                                                                                                                                        These days my meal planning involves me looking at the activity calendar - which nights will everyone eat separately, which nights need something quick, which nights allow me to make something more complex, what time will we sit down. I have nights where I utilize the crockpot, nights with planned leftovers, or nights when we have fish because the fish hater isn't going to be home for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                        Also an interesting or good meal doesn't have to be time consuming. And like a previous poster, I have the house where my kids friends/girlfriends love to come for meals because I serve real food AND we all sit down together.

                                                                                                                                                                        I guess my main point is it is better to serve simple,real food and enjoy it together than have a fancy meal apart.

                                                                                                                                                                        I do dream of the day when I can make what I want what ever night I want it. I have a Pinterest board for it - Food I will make when my picky kids are gone.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: suburban_mom

                                                                                                                                                                          < It's better to serve simple real food and enjoy it together than have a fancy meal apart >. Very well said.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I sympathize with you. In what kind of home did your wife grow up? She may be recreating the lack of culinary skill in which she was raised.

                                                                                                                                                                          I sympathies about the pasta choices. I refuse to eat mac and cheese. My wife is of Italian descent. Mac and cheese does not appear on our dinner table. Stouffers products are not so bad. At age 77 years, I've seen enough pasta for 3 life times. I miei antenati non erano italiani (My ancestors were not Italian). Basta basta (Enough is enough).

                                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                                                            She was raised in a conflicted environment. Her mother, who is an excellent cook, would often take way too long to get dinner on the table. So I think that there's some resentment there.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                              Understood! I sincerely wish you some form of agreement under the circumstances. I commend you for your attempts at putting well prepared meals on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                                I think if you look at it as her having been wounded it may make you more compassionate. If kids havent been cared for enough there are adult consequences including feeling helpless (like a child) and yes maybe angry by what feels like a replay of the childhood situation. Like I said above, my own husband has a fast metabolism and an acute appetite - especially as a younger man he had a hard time waiting for food - he also came from an acutely disordered home. He too had an emotional reaction to waiting and disorder around meals. He also hates being late whereas I am always behind the curve timewise. I wish I could say Ive done a better job of being loving and healing of this pain instead of focussing on my own needs. You have a younger marriage and I hope that you are able to do a better job than I have done. YOu may feel that its unreasonable, but these childhood experience go deep. Honestly,there will be a price for your whole family not just you and your wife unless you get somewhat refocussed on building her trust in you.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                                                                  “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”

                                                                                                                                                                                  --MFK Fisher

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've been thinking something similar but still mulling it over when I read this. I think there is much here that's on point for many people. I hope we're not reading too much into this.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I have family members (married to younger members) who brought similar issues into relationships: lots of disorder, chaos, quarreling, disappointment around food and dinners. Lots of distrust of anything that wasn't fast food - fried chicken, ffries, canned corn, snack stuff (chips, cheetos). Their real-life experience meant that food/dinner was not something pleasant or reliable - ever, unless it was fried, salted and fat. It took years to change: still a preference for cheesy, smooth, salty but so much different its off the scale: homemade veggie pizza, homemade chicken soup, some green veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Please Rudeboy - keep cooking dinner. Cut the time (lots of suggestions here) during weekdays, limit shopping to 1-2 days, have the girls help plan the menus: simple and tasty. Get it on the table w/less fuss.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In exchange, invite your spouse to sit down, tell funny stories, tell a joke, let the girls explain the food. Cook with them on the weekends - simple things and do a new ingredient twice a month. And maybe twice a month, do something very special for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Less stress, more enjoyment; less worry, more giggling!

                                                                                                                                                                                    we're all in favor of your success.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                                                      re: resentment. You think???

                                                                                                                                                                                      Whoops - somehow i missed this one specifically. But i got the jist from your other posts - about birth-family stuff, and
                                                                                                                                                                                      jen kalb really homed in on it didn't she?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Has not seemed like a big deal maybe, to you, but your week night dinners have recreated a bad memory - no bad intention on your part. This you can change - lots of tewrrific suggestions here. I noticed down-thread that you plan to cut out shopping every day - good on you! Nake somemore changes that will get away from that
                                                                                                                                                                                      'way too long to get dinner on the table' memory and I'm thinking that thiings will get better.

                                                                                                                                                                                      we want Rudeboy for the win!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. With young children at home, there's a difference between cooking and making dinner. I'd adjust your schedule and have just a few nights a week where you're "cooking" and the other nights where you're taking advantage of leftovers or doing more "assembly" than anything else. The time you spend eating dinner together, even if it's only 20 minutes, is precious and fleeting. (And nothing wrong with the shiny boxes if they're an occasional treat rather than a dinner staple.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    So, a batch of meatballs and sauce one night that can be repurposed into meatball heroes another night. Roast a chicken one night, and fajitas or quesadillas another. You get the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Don't give up on long dinners with cooking and wine. Just adjust your expectations.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Since she gripes about the effort and the time, maybe you can still do your cooking if you shift gears a bit...

                                                                                                                                                                                      Could you set yourself a challenge - like race against the clock? See how fast you can get dinner on the table. It's probably not how you like to cook but you can try that once in awhile.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you make use of a slow cooker much? They are brilliant for situations like yours. Dinner is pretty much ready when you get home.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Get hold of some 30 minutes or less / quick dinner recipes. There are a lot out there and you needn't sacrifice flavor and interest factor for quickness.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Then take more time to savor the process on the weekend... do some prep for weeknights when you are short on time. For example, I make and freeze filled pastas and wontons on the weekends. They are really quick to cook from frozen, just drop them into rapidly boiling water until they float. Your kids might like to get involved in these activities too.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I also freeze leftover pasta sauces in silicone muffin cases. Freeze, empty muffin cases into ziplock baggie. Small blocks defrost faster in the microwave than one big one, and you can more easily adjust the quantity that you want to defrost.

                                                                                                                                                                                      It makes me feel like I'm still ahead of the game some nights when I get home later than usual.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                                                                                                          We're pretty good about using leftovers.I don't think that her sense of taste or smell is like mine. The upside is that she can do spicy. I like your idea of freezing pasta sauces. I used to make huge batches of tomato sauce (grande) and use that, but lately, we have been doing more bottled sauces (there's a lot of good ones now). Plus, I'll boil more pasta than needed. I'm trying to avoid too much pasta, but spaghetti squash takes too much time.