I watch a lot of cooking/baking shows and many of the contestants (professional chefs and home bakers alike) talk about how they grew up cooking/baking with their mother and grandmother. I did not. Nevertheless, when I married and had children of my own, I was the one primarily responsible for meals. It wasn’t a process I enjoyed. I had a terrible time planning meals and it didn’t help when my oldest son turned out to be an extremely picky eater. What do you fix (Southern for “prepare”) for the kid who won’t eat anything? It wasn’t only the meal planning that was stressful, the actual preparation was as well. I had a hard time getting all of the components ready at the same time which tended to make me meltdown. (Perfectionism at it’s finest.) After a while, my husband got tired of me stressing out and he took over meal preparation. I’m not sure that he enjoyed the actual process any more than I did but he is much calmer than I am (about pretty much everything). Our boys grew up eating a lot of Shake and Bake chicken and Hamburger Helper. Our meals weren’t the healthiest but both boys survived and are now in their thirties.
A few years ago I subscribed to the Blue Apron meal kit plan for a while and even wrote a post about it HERE. While I enjoyed experimenting I don’t think any of the meals we tried became repeats. Fast forward a couple of years and I decided to subscribe to the Hello Fresh meal kit plan. Aside from a few delivery problems, this went much better. I think some of it was the actual meal offerings themselves. The Hello Fresh meals still gave me the ability to try things I wouldn’t normally fix but weren’t so far outside of my comfort zone (or rather my husband’s comfort zone) that we wouldn’t try them again. As a matter of fact, several of the Hello Fresh meals have become repeats. Hello Fresh taught me just how much I enjoy roasted vegetables and how easy they are to prepare. Who knew? I also learned that olive oil, salt, and pepper are good on pretty much everything. I think another reason that the Hello Fresh process went better was that I was at a different place in my life; I was no longer doing elder care and had gotten through the worst of the grief over losing my parents.. The extra free time made it easier for me to spend the time I needed on meal preparation – after all, I’m still a slow cook.
Now that I’m retired and my husband is still working, it’s only fair that I have taken over once again as the primary cook. And, it’s going much better. I actually enjoy the meal prep and all of the slicing and dicing. I’m still not always the best at getting everything done at the same time but I try not to let it stress me out, after all, it’s not the end of the world. I’m still not great at meal planning but it is getting a little easier. Not only that but we are eating better, we now buy a lot of fresh produce and rarely have a pre-packaged meal. (And, I feel kind of guilty when we do.) I also like the fact that Kroger now sells individual Home Chef meal kits. This allows me to keep experimenting without the cost of a weekly subscription.
In short, I am 56 years old and I am just now learning to cook. Fortunately, as I’ve said before, age is just a number and it’s never too late to learn something new. (My husband, 57, is now taking guitar lessons and I couldn’t be prouder.) So to my sons, I’m sorry I didn’t have these skills when you were still at home. However, you were loved fiercely, had a roof over your head and clothes to wear so I guess it all worked out.
Did you learn to cook as a child?