I love to cook. After having kids, cooking dinners was something I couldn’t wait to get back to and something I made a priority — I legitimately enjoy it and it makes me feel good — home cooked food, CSA veggies, a freezer stocked with homemade soups — it all makes me feel healthy, happy, and satisfied. I’ve had an unusually hard time writing this post as how a mom spends her time, particularly when it comes to homemaking duties, can be a contentious issue. I keep typing and re-typing because I don’t want to say anything offensive.
The way I see it, we’re all hard at work balancing kids, family, husbands, jobs, dogs, ourselves, our friends. There’s a lot of compromise and choice to be made as a mother and for many cooking dinner every night is insane, undesirable, something happily outsourced, etc. etc. I can assure you that for me to cook dinner, I’ve had to give up a lot of other things. I probably shower less than you, I never blow dry my hair much less style it (in fact if you have any sort of a beauty routine you’re doing something I’m not – I’m constantly wishing I had chapstick on hand). Maybe you make time for a yoga class. Maybe you have a career (I’m at home full time which isn’t to say that I have it easy but I do have the ability to chop a few veggies during nap time). Maybe your house is cleaner than mine or you read a book, or you help you husband with your family business. Whatever it is, the point is, you shouldn’t sweat it that I’m cooking dinner. Cause I really do enjoy it. I love the puzzle of making what we have in the fridge work into meals for the week and the problem solving it takes to figure out how to use up that last stick of celery or that handful of cabbage.
Lately, I’ve had to be extra strategic about how I fit menu planning, groceries, and cooking into our week. Gone are the days when I spent a whole Saturday working on the week’s menu, leisurely paging through cookbooks and making trips to the farmer’s market (yes, that was before kids). I gravitate towards recipes that take less than half an hour or can be repurposed as a second meal later in the week. I’ve long admired Jenny Rosenstrach’s darling and smart family cooking blog but I am downright obsessed with her latest cookbook. A good third of the book is devoted to strategy and while I’ve got some practice at that, I still learned some new tips (like every little prep effort counts). If you’re wondering how I cook dinner every night, Jenny lays out a process similar to mine: shop once a week, plan ahead, prep ahead.
The remainder of the book are the recipes and I’ve never worked my way through a cookbook the way I am with this one. Everything looks good and fits the bill for easy family dinners so we’ve been trying one after the other and we’ve yet to be disappointed. Shrimp rolls, BBQ pulled chicken (with homemade sauce), pasta with roasted butternut squash (above!), zucchini cakes, yum, yum, yum. There are great recipes for freezing too which makes weeknight dinner even easier. I’m actually trying to cook a little less so defrosting some homemade turkey chili allows us a little more time at the playground in the afternoons.
I’ve started giving this book to friends and family as gifts — hopefully they aren’t hating me for it — as I think it’s such a great resource. And/or a lifesaver. Anyways, give it a try and let know what you think. You don’t even have to buy it — my favorite go-to these days is to get cookbooks from the library. It’s nice to be able to check a book out and spend a little time with it before deciding if it’s the right cookbook to add to my collection. I request them online so when I’m at the library with the boys I can quickly swing by the hold shelf and grab my books.
Have you tried Jenny’s recipes before?
What are your favorite weeknight dinners? What are your best shortcuts?
Let me know what you think!