When I can do it on my own terms...
When I'm not coming in from work at 7pm and thinking, "If I don't cook for my family, no one else will think about it, and they'll just order pizza, and then they'll be unhealthy, and I can't afford for all of them to get gastric bypass surgery, and if I don't cook I won't have anything to eat either, and I'll have to have yogurt for the rest of my life"...
When I can cook WHEN IT'S A BLESSING TO ME then it feels like a creative endeavor vs a drudgery. And that's important to me. Very important. More creative. Less drudgery.
6 months later, weight loss surgery has taught me this: Whereas it may be my responsibility to provide healthy food choices for my children, IT IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY TO COOK FOR 4 TEENAGERS EVERY EVENING.
Since I've taken the weight of HAVING TO COOK off my own shoulders (because after all Greek Yogurt with Fruit, a salad, or a protein shake can all be fine dinners)...I've had more time in my life for things I enjoy doing -- and my family has become more grateful for my efforts.
A recent statement by Hosanna, "Mom, thank you for cooking for us -- even though you can't even eat it! It kinda makes me want to cry."
I usually set aside 2-3 hours for cooking on the weekends. Today, I had a little more time. So, I choose 3 meals that were a little more creative (read "intensive"). Again, most weeks, my meal plan is less work, but here goes...
This week, my family will eat:
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops with Carrots, Green Beans, and Spinach
Also, for my lunches, left over from last week, placed in small, single size serving containers there is...
High Protein Chili
Chicken Salad (made with Grapes and Pecans)
Roasted Chicken with diced tomatoes, avocado and onion
In a quiet home, with soft music playing, fire place going and my "fall leaves" candle burning...
I started by browning 3 lbs lean hamburger meat.
Next, I made the veggie base for the soup.
My recipe (given to me by friend Debbie Northway - an AMAZING cook in her own right) calls for 3/4 cup each of onion, carrots and celery. I double that.
I boiled 4 cups diced potatoes about 10 minutes, then assembled the soup in the crock pot.
If you have a large family (or even if you don't), having 2 crock pots and 1 large roaster is a real bonus.
I also HATE when produce goes bad in our fridge.
I took this opportunity to cut that off at the pass, sooooo to speak.
To save the produce, I did the following:
I blanched a pound of fresh green beans and tossed them in the freezer.
I sliced up the carrots NOT put in the soup, and tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled with orange zest. Roasted in the oven for a few minutes, they'll be delicious.
I cut open the remaining 4 mini peppers, stuffed with mozzarella and placed under the broiler for a few. Yum.
Then I took a little break to pick up the kids up from our church's fall retreat. A break to hug my birthday girls neck and watch her open a couple of gifts. A break to visit with some friends who got their messages crossed and thought the football party was at my house. It was funny and I loved the spontaneous moment of visiting with them!
I took a break to run to the grocery store with B to get a bunch of things FREE with our coupons.
Once I returned home, I did some Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops. They smelled good, but I HATE FRYING THINGS. This was more work than I will ever do again.
My family will enjoy them with the orange zested carrots, as well as with the green beans and scalloped potatoes left over from last week.
The pan smelled so good after cooking these, I couldn't help but wilt a container of baby spinach to eat as well.
Finally, I made this homemade sauce and tossed it all together...
And, TA-DAH! Gourmet (to us) meals for a week (or more) -- and NO MORE COOKING!
No more cooking -- that's the very best part!