If you never seem to have enough time to cook and get a meal on the table, why not stop cooking at mealtime? No, I’m not saying starve. And I’m not saying eat a bag of chips on the run. In fact, as you’ll soon see, I’m not even suggesting that you eat out or throw together a sandwich.
The other day, my mom was lamenting how long it takes to cook everything from scratch. She’s on permanent dialysis and my stepfather (let’s call him NewDaddy) is on a healthy regimen due to recent bypass surgery and prostate cancer.
What’s funny about this is that Mom has told me for years how healthy she eats, but really she consumes mostly saltine crackers, lettuce without adornment, and the occasional piece of cherry pie. She has finally given up the Dr. Pepper that was her fourth dietary staple.
Mind you, no medical professional has ever really questioned her nutrition because her weight fell in the ideal range, or at least it was ideal until the last couple of years. Now she spends a lot of time in the hospital where she’s encouraged to eat LOTS of calories because she’s so thin. Instead, she adds a protein supplement to the handful of supplements she takes every morning and talks a lot about how much she eats, but she does seem to be cooking more often.
I’m sure compared to grabbing a cracker, preparing an entire meal from fresh food feels like it takes all day. Mom’s not alone. A lot of us just can’t figure out how to fit cooking into our already overburdened schedules.
With the exception of Mom, my entire family tends to get fussy when we’re hungry. It can be pretty hard to face the idea of standing in the kitchen whipping up a meal when I’m both feeling irritable and listening to Ben’s grouchy tone.
I recognize that what we need is food as quickly as possible and I want it to be fresh, healthy food, but I also recognize that the pressure of preparing a meal at that moment may make an uncomfortable situation worse.
I suppose this would be no big deal except that I often get focused on a project and fail to recognize it’s time to eat until I’ve already reached the too hungry phase. It seems that I create my own problem, so I figured I should create my own solution. Hopefully my solution will work for you too!
Here’s what seems to work best for me – cooking when it’s not mealtime. Prepping and cooking when there’s no pressure and I’m feeling good means that the food will be ready when I get hungry. It also guarantees I’ll have a more pleasant cooking experience. And it helps keep everyone on schedule since there’s no delay in getting a meal on the table.
Sometimes I can just leave dinner on the stove until the next meal. Sometimes I have to put everything in the fridge and reheat it before serving. Other times, I’ll combine some cooked items into new configurations when I’m reheating.
The good news is that cooking during in between times means a meal is always ready when I need one. This makes me feel calm and happy.
Try it. If you feel calm and happy too, let us know by commenting below.