I don’t cook.
Well, I did cook, once upon a time. It was actually one of the things I looked forward to most when I first got married: cooking my man his dinner. (Yes, how traditional of me.) Unfortunately, Mr. Mia (hubby) wasn’t particularly enthralled by the two meals I knew how to make:
1.Chicken Rice Casserole: chicken breasts/cream of mushroom soup/frozen broccoli/Minute Rice
2.Tuna Noodle Casserole: can of tuna/cream of mushroom soup frozen peas/pasta
Do you recognize the slight variation on the same theme? If so, aren’t you quite the critic? Just kidding.
The look of hungry dissatisfaction on Mr. Mia’s newlywed face remains branded on my mind almost thirty, yes, I said thirty years later.
Things got a little bit better when Mr. Mia grew a garden. I figured out how to make a fresh zucchini/onion/tomato stir fry, which I served over Minute Rice (or pasta- SURPRISE!) And, for the record, it wasn’t a casserole. This was a great source of pride. The veggies weren’t from a freezer bag. BONUS: my husband actually liked it. I made it every day for three weeks.
And then he didn’t like it anymore.
This cooking dilemma compounded with the birth of my extremely finicky first daughter, A. She nursed for a long time—I couldn’t go wrong with that, could I? But when the time came for her to eat solid food, it didn’t go well. I tried all of the typical “kid foods”: chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, buttered noodles, and pizza. NOT HAPPENING. So, I shifted into chocolate-frappes-for-all- three-meals mode, into which I would sometimes cleverly slip some fruit or yogurt.
“No banana, Mommy! No yogie! (A’s word for yogurt.) Just milk and ice cream!” And way too much chocolate syrup. Of course.
About a year later, I asked the pediatrician, “Can a child survive on milk shakes, Wheat Thins, and Kudos bars?” The doctor looked at me strangely. And for the record, at this point I wasn’t too worried about what Randy ate for dinner.
D, child number two… less picky. Yay.
S, child number three… WAY MORE PICKY. Ugh.
C, child number four ate anything as long as it was covered in melted cheese… cool.
And then dinnertime got CRAZY. Swim team, dance class, art lessons, baseball, after school enrichment program, soccer, soccer for someone else… you name it, my kids did it. Sitting down at the dinner table became a thing of the past.
I was not overly disappointed, as dinnertime was nothing like the picture above. It had become rather stressful, thanks to the fact I had to make AT LEAST four separate meals each night.
We got out of the “sitting down to dinner” habit. For the next few years, I put together one meal for two kids at five, and Mr. Mia put together a semblance of dinner for another kid at seven, and I picked up fast food for more family members at ten, on the way home from dance. What Mr. Mia ate for dinner each night… I have no clue.
Yeah, that was another sigh. A very, very long sigh.
All I can say is I’m reasonably confident that nobody was starving.
I called myself “The Lone Arranger” when it came to mustering up dinner for the kids. (I actually thought everybody called me this catchy nickname, but I have recently been informed—rather rudely, I must say—that this is not the case.) In any event, I didn’t cook dinner—I simply arranged for each family member to have access to something edible each night.
The situation has become even more challenging lately, although it’s not often that the entire family is home to eat dinner seeing as one child is newly graduated from Harvard Law School, one is a professional dancer in NYC, one is home until the crazy pandemic lets her actually go to work at her job in Brooklyn, and one is in in college.
A is a vegetarian—and a super “foodie” vegetarian at that.
D is gluten and dairy free by necessity.
S, who used to eat only five foods in the entire world, has increased her palate. I think she is up to seven foods now.
C isn’t so much into vegetables. But he’s big on protein since he started lifting weights.
Mr. Mia refuses to eat fast food and those easy heat-up frozen meals, which sucks.
I tried to be a “hunter-gatherer” for a period of time for health reasons, but finally gave up and I just eat what I can arrange.
Mr. Mia grills every now and then. Momma Mia makes that chicken/mushroom soup/broccoli casserole once in a while. Sometimes we eat big bowls of cereal. We order a ton of pizza. Thai food (yes, take out) has become a staple.
Sometimes we just drink dinner. I’m a mimosa fan. Mr. Mia likes beer and wine. And sometimes bourbon. (The “drinking dinner” thing excludes my son who eats leftovers from the above list and isn’t old enough to imbibe.)
I don’t cook—never really have, and probably never will.
But we’re getting by.
I want to know HOW YOU DO IT… How do you feed yourselves and your families on those crazy busy or I-don’t-feel-like-cooking nights? Please!! I need the help!!