This is the typical dialogue in my house, usually between me, and my oldest dude:
“Mom, we have no food in the house. I’m starving!”
“What are you talking about? I just went to the grocery store yesterday!”
After my third son was born, my mother-in-law warned me. She raised 5 boys and 1 girl so she knew what was coming. She told me I’d have to grocery shop all the time AND learn to cook for all these boys. Nooooooo!!! That was NOT what I wanted to hear.
I hate to cook. I hate it more than anything else – more than peanut butter, more than doing laundry, more than going to the gynecologist, more than getting a bikini wax. You get the picture. Every year for the holidays, I put one thing on my wish list: a live-in chef. Well, that wish has not been granted yet, so I’ve had to try to improvise. Here’s how it’s been going:
For the first 7-8 years of providing food for my boys, it went fine. No need to cook a real meal as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets provided enough calories for my kids. I’d cut up a little fruit or try to sneak in some veggies and they were good to go. Ha, I thought smugly, my mother-in-law was wrong. Who needs to cook when you can provide a meal from a box or nuke a tray of frozen nuggets? Nobody complained. I had food on the table in 10 minutes for three kids. My husband and I could eat cereal or leftover Chinese food and we’d be all set for the night. Until one day, that scenario vanished – poof! Sorry, no more easy meal times for you OhBoyMom!
I soon had boys who were actually hungry, really hungry and who craved protein found in food like steak and real chicken (meaning not the processed chicken found in those nuggets). Well, I was not willing to surrender yet. I went to Plan B.
Plan B was buying pre-made meals that I could easily heat up. Fully cooked chicken parmesan or lasagna. I’ll admit this is not a budget-conscious option, but it is a sanity-saver. I figured the boys would be fine with this because after all, it’s food. So what if someone else pre-made it?
Well, sometimes this option worked but other times I’d hear, “Yuck, this tastes like cardboard!” Or, “Mom, how old is this chicken? I can’t chew it.”
“How about grilled cheese or a hot dog for dinner?” I’d offer.
“That’s not dinner,” I’d hear, “that’s a snack!”
I knew from that point on, I was screwed. These boys needed sustenance and they seemed to want me to cook it. I bid a teary adieu to the Kraft macaroni boxes as I put them back in the cupboard, and I got to work. I pulled out recipe books, I went on epicurious.com, I did my homework. Don’t be misled, I did not turn into the next Rachel Ray, but I did find some easy, weekday meals that even I was capable of preparing. Do I still hate cooking more than having a root canal?
Oh, I most certainly do. But, at least I now have three well-fed boys on most nights. On other nights, when we order pizza or Chinese food, they are still well-fed boys and I am one happy mama. And if anyone is interested in cooking for our household, please apply below. No experience necessary. As long as you are doing the cooking rather than me, you’ve got the job.