I don’t really cook. I mean, I don’t suck at it, necessarily, but I don’t relish it, either. I know that these days, it seems like every mom is supposed to have infinite patience and DIY fancy decor and parties for the kids, plus look smokin’ hot in a pair of yoga pants while whipping up five-star-restaurant quality meals on a weeknight for the family. I…haven’t mastered all that. I’m working on the ones I think matter, have let go of the ones that don’t, and am pretty content being less than the currently-held-up-as-perfect Mommy Ideal. However.
I’m bored. With my meals. We eat the same basic four meals over…and over…and over. I used to have about 10 in rotation, pretty easy and quick things, but my husband is looking to limit his weekday carb intake, and that has knocked out about half of my usual stuff–no more stuffed shells, no more knishes from scratch. Sigh. So while I am happy with my mom identity, I am NOT happy with my dull-as-toast meals.
I’m looking for help.
The internet is a great place to dig for ideas, and heaven knows Pinterest is rife with sixty-five billion pins for scrumptious-looking meals that swear they cook themselves and leave no dirty dishes. I want something else. I want recipes that I can rotate through that:
- require ingredients I don’t have to visit a specialty store to obtain
- my kids will eat
- my husband will be impressed by (he’s impressed with good ingredients & solid flavor, just FYI)
- contain vegetables (we never seem to eat enough)
- take 45-minutes or less to prepare
- store well and travel for leftovers (hubs takes his lunch to work, and it’s usually last night’s dinner)
If I were being extra picky, I’d also dream of recipes that:
- go easy on the carbs or have the carbs primarily as a side dish
- include meatless options, but don’t rely too heavily on soy
- can be made ahead and frozen, for when we travel and the kids are with the grandparents
Is this the Holy Grail of home cooking? Probably. I don’t mind cooking from scratch–that’s my preference, so most “quick” meals and crock pot dishes are off the table, since they contain mixes and pouches and pre-packaged ingredients, and we’re really sincerely doing our best to stick to foods we can point at and identify. I don’t mind shopping for ingredients the day of, so fresh is fine by us. I don’t mind spending the hour between 5 and 6 cooking, although I am pretty much never ever going to spend more than an hour on a weeknight dinner. I want something more than just a pin on Pinterest–something real people have actually made and served to other real people, and all those people ate it and said, “Yum!” Ideally my kids will try it and eat the portions I serve them, and it sure would be lovely if my husband was impressed and thought I was even more awesome than usual because I prepared a yummy meal in the middle of the work week.
Tell me these recipes exist. Not a whole zillion pages, just a dozen or so delicious meals with real ingredients that have been tested by actual families with young children and not thrown in the garbage disposal at the end of the meal. Can you help me? Because I could really use the help.
If you’ve found one of these elusive recipes, hit me in the comments. Links, images, your own blog, names of cookbooks, whatever you’ve got. Our test kitchen over here, with five hungry and discriminating mouths, will cook them up and let you know how it goes. I’m looking to build a stable of recipes to put into regular rotation and hopefully shake off the rut we’ve been in.
I’m ready, y’all. Bring it on.