What’s (Not Really) Cooking

I don't cook side dishes. They are either fruits, or raw or lightly steamed veggies.

It’s no secret that while I am all about organic, all natural, locally grown foods, I don’t like cooking. It’s a quandary, really. I want to feed my family healthy foods, but I don’t want to be in the kitchen. I want to nourish my body without any significant effort to do so.

My two oldest kids have begun pitching in with the cooking and cleaning, which is great. (My 9-year old makes a mean grilled cheese. And she peels potatoes faster than I can.) But as soon as the baby realizes someone gets to do something, screaming and crying ensue. When the baby was younger, handing her pots and pans did wonders to keep her busy while I cooked. But now that she wants to use the Super Sharp Knife to cut veggies, just like her eldest sister does, it’s harder again. So I often have to kick the big girls out of the kitchen to play with her, leaving myself in the kitchen to do dinner.

Jackie linked to a piece in the New York Times where a writer confessed he can’t manage to get food on the table with a job outside of the home. But I’ll confess to you, though I stay at home, I still struggle to get dinner on the table. You would think this wouldn’t be the case, but it is. If the kids are busying themselves with homework or playing, I’m writing. I don’t make a move to the kitchen until twenty minutes before I know the kids will be starving. It’s my own fault, but it is what it is.

So during the week– not much cooking gets done. We do eat at home, we just eat quick easy meals. Here’s a rundown of what we do, if you are also cooking challenged.

1.) Soup in a Crock Pot–

At all times, I have leeks, celery, minced garlic, carrots, green onions, and when I remember, fresh parsley. This is my veggie stock. I have trained my children to eat soup year round. I have also trained them to eat leftovers three nights in a row. Leftovers are our fifth food group.

Either Sunday night or Monday morning, I chop above veggies. The next day I throw them in the crock pot with water, sea salt, pepper, and whatever the soup is. Sometimes it split peas, sometimes it’s mixed beans, sometimes it’s potatoes or tempeh. I’m generally not a fan of tomato based soup, but the above veggies for a stock taste amazing.

We eat from this soup Monday and Tuesday night, and on Wednesday I either freeze the leftovers or we eat from it again. To change it up, we’ll eat it over rice or on top of whole wheat crackers or in a flour tortilla or with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

2.) Grilled Cheese & Raw or Steamed Veggies

This is dinner once a week for us. I buy my whole wheat bread from a bakery that uses only 5 ingredients, and buy really good cheddar cheese. We usually eat this with raw or lightly streamed broccoli and/or cauliflower. Sliced onions and tomatoes taste great in a grilled cheese.

3.) Pasta

I know I’m going to get a huge groan for this, but yes, I still use jarred pasta sauce. I KNOW it’s easy to make it on my own, but I just don’t want to. I buy a low sodium, low sugar, all natural, organic CHEAP pasta sauce at Whole Foods (their 365 brand). Yes, making it from scratch would taste better and be healthier, but my way is quicker with less clean up. You can try to convince me all you like, to make my own. I’m telling you now…I won’t.

When we don’t use jarred sauce, we use olive oil and parmesan cheese (hey– at least I don’t use parmesan from the green can anymore), halved grape tomatoes, chick peas (canned), and lightly steamed broccoli. It’s a delicious and quick meal, and I use two boxes of penne pasta so we have leftovers for the next day.

4.) Eggs

Scrambled or over easy, whole wheat toast, sliced apples, cantaloupe, grapes. Spinach & feta cheese quiche. I love eggs.

5.) Amy’s Frozen Pizzas

Target sells these delicious pizzas really cheap. Their Margherita is wonderful. We eat them almost every Friday, when all the neighborhood kids are hanging out at our house and I have extra mouths to feed.

6.) A Totally Uncooked Meal

Sometime my husband is at a dinner meeting or working the late shift, and I use this as an excuse to not cook at all. Ants on a Log (celery sticks, crunchy peanut butter, raisins) with cut up cheddar cheese on whole wheat crackers, and watermelon. Or carrot sticks dipped in humus with  fresh whole wheat tortillas dipped in Greek yogurt. (I buy my tortillas at the bakery that makes them fresh every day.) Apple slices with crunchy peanut butter is another quick favorite.

7.) Veggie Dogs or Burgers

About twice a month, we have these with baked french fries and carrot sticks and celery or cucumbers.

These are my standard quick-meals-that-get-us-by. During the week, we are minimalist. It gets us fed, it gets us full, and it’s decently healthy.


9 thoughts on “What’s (Not Really) Cooking

  1. I think your go-to meals sound pretty dang healthy, but then, I use jarred sauce most often too! Some of our go-tos are tuna melts and tacos, both with a layer of spinach or baby greens underneath the meat, and we love breakfast for dinner–waffles or French toast, usually–because we’re not a big egg house here. You’ve got plenty of veggies here, it sounds like, which we are still working on.

    What’s hard for me too is that the season where I have the most free time is summer, which is also when I want to cook the least.

  2. We have a lot of veggies, but they are rarely in-season or locally grown veggies. I flunked out of CSA school in the past, but I’m really hoping to get back into it this spring, and try to eat what’s grown here when it’s grown here.

  3. I hear ya! Last week, we had pasta with jarred sauce. Sometimes I add meat. I only occasionally (like once a year) make sauce from scratch. We also have tacos quite often too–both beans and meat. Trader Joe’s is my go to place for quick and relatively healthy meals. I, too, like organic and healthy meals, and even though I like cooking, I’m often too exhausted after work to be cutting lots of veggies or making complicated sauces.

  4. In our defense, I think jarred sauce has come a long way! It’s not so, so bad anymore…


  5. (raises hand sheepishly — or, should it be enthusiastically? 😉

    Me too! I’m also challenged in this area. That line about getting up 20 minutes before we’re all starved? That’s TOTALLY me. And you know I’ve also mostly been a SAHM for the past 6 years.

    Great suggestions. And… though I rarely use jarred sauce, I always thought that I was the TOTAL exception and that it’s normal to use jarred and NOT very normal to make my own sauce (I freeze it at the end of the summer, please don’t feel bad and still count me in the group of lame ass lazy cooks).

    Anyway… we LIVE off leftovers too and thankfully my dear husband doesn’t object taking the same lunch to work two, even three days in a row. Sigh. Bless his heart.

    OK, gotta go give him some attention now.

  6. I only make my own sauce when I make this great baked ziti recipe I have–which I’ve only made three times, because you have to fresh-grate two cheeses, slice and cube a third, make the sauce, etc etc etc…..I’m going to make it tomorrow, but only because it’s spring break!

  7. When I was a kid, my dad used to make his version of homemade pasta sauce every Sunday. I have fond memories of his day-long spaghetti and meatball marathons. I tried his recipe a few times but discovered that I liked Ragu when there was meat or sausage cooking in it. So that’s really all my sons have known. I’m not Italian, so I don’t feel guilty for not making my own “gravy.”

    Sounds like you’ve got a good lineup of food. I wish my kids wanted soup, but because I don’t really care for it, they never eat it either. I try to do healthy, but my older son won’t eat anything green unless it’s Caeser salad. It’s really hard to get them to try new veggies.

    I hate cooking though. Everyone says that they’d hire a maid if they won the lottery. I’d hire a cook. I’d love to have all of my meals prepared for me. So I keep playing the lottery. Maybe someday I’ll win.

  8. I’m with you Kathy. Give me a personal chef any day!

    What is it with Caesar salad? My kids love it, too!

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