Thank goodness I don’t have to hunt for my own food. I don’t even know where tacos live.
I love food. I will pretty much eat anything that doesn’t eat me first. I’m not really picky, although it would take a powerful hunger to make me want liver and onions. I am a fan of all the food groups, easy to please, and have never, to my knowledge, “forgotten to eat.” I do, however, think I have forgotten how to cook.
Of all the side effects of empty nesting, forgetting how to feed myself was not on my radar. I supposed “forgetting how to feed myself” is a tad dramatic. I still feed myself. Mainly cereal, crackers and assorted bits of things I find in the cabinets. However, it has come to pass that if I do not have to feed a family, I would rather just not cook at all.
To be clear, I do like to cook when I feel like it. I can be seized by the desire to whip up homemade soup, pies, savory roasts and fluffy real mashed potatoes, among other things. It is the everyday responsibility for doing so that gets so monotonous. I used to tease my children when they said they were hungry, “didn’t I just feed you yesterday?”
For many years I had the usual middle-class Midwestern rotation of meat and potatoes, chicken, pasta, taco night, meatloaf and so on. I am no stranger to the magic that can be whipped up in a 9 by 13-inch pan. I churned out endless meals. My slow cooker prowess was the stuff of (family) legend.
I was sometimes proud of my kitchen prowess, and other times, just glad everyone was fed. Lately, I find myself staring into the refrigerator or freezer, wondering what to do with what I see. Frozen ground beef? So I need to plan ahead and thaw it? Then figure out what to put in it in order to make something with it? Frankly, that sounds like a lot of effort.
For someone who adores eating, I’m lazy when it comes to procuring food. I love to support local restaurants, but I don’t always feel like going out for the whole “dining” experience. Carry-out is my favorite. Restaurant food in the comfort of home? Sign me up!
That, however, is not always easy on the budget — or waistline. Now that Mr. Wonderful is working a day shift job, I feel like I should make more of an effort to make a proper meal at dinner time. Apparently, in some cultures, people enjoy more than a snack cracker and chip dip for dinner. Who knew?
Meanwhile, even as I am forgetting to plan our meals, I spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over the culinary demands of our dogs. With the recent health scare of our Nova Grace, I doubled down on my efforts to feed them only top-quality foods.
Or, as GirlWonder tells it, “Mom spends endless hours and money choosing only the finest ingredients for Nova’s diet. Nova, for her part, eats three flies in less than a minute.”
That sounds about right.
I think, after over two decades of making dinner, it’s not the physical act of cooking that is exhausting so much as it is the ideas. It’s just plain old decision fatigue. I read an article that swore I could make a week’s worth of meals from items I have on hand if I just applied myself.
I made a list. Canned beets, cereal, all the staples (flour, sugar, salt, etc.) and two packets of ramen noodles. Have I mentioned that empty nesting also means less trips to the grocery store? In my case, maybe too few. I probably should, at the very least, find my way to a produce stand before we contract scurvy.
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