how to eat at home when you hate to cook

Do you want your family to eat most of their meals at home?  How do you do that when you hate to cook?  Well, I hear ya.  We eat at home almost all the time.  Literally.  Like we go out once every few months.  Crazy, I know.  But I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets for how I manage to feed my family at home all the time and do most of it from scratch.

My first secret is a practical one I learned from my mom:

Keep your pantry and freezer stocked!

I have a mental list of go-to meals that I know my family enjoys.  It’s nothing complicated and amounts to things like barbecue meatballs, various chicken dishes, hamburgers, sloppy joes, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, various fresh veggies, etc.  They are very traditional meals.

Rather than watch the sale fliers from the grocery store and plan my meals around that, I watch the fliers for those things that fit with our list of meals and stock up.  This gives me the ability to cook almost anything I want at any time.  Sometimes I meal plan, but most of the time I don’t.  I’ll try to plan in my head about 24 hours in advance so I can get something out of the freezer to thaw on time, but I don’t have a fancy plan, that’s for sure!

By always restocking my pantry and freezer, I never have the excuse that we have nothing to eat!

Now, you don’t have to cook traditional meat-and-potato meals like my family prefers.  This idea of keeping the pantry and freezer stocked works for any type of meal preferences!

If this is totally new to you, then sit down and make a list of meals you know your family likes.  Write down the ingredients needed to cook those meals and stock your pantry and freezer so you can make any of those meals at anytime!  And don’t just buy one of something.

For instance, if you know you’ll need tomato sauce for a certain dish, buy several so you can make that dish more than once.

By shopping and cooking this way, it also eliminates multiple weekly grocery trips.

Until our small town got a grocery store again, I had to travel 12 miles to the nearest store, so I often would go two weeks between trips!

Now I’ll let you in on another secret about me….

i hate to cook!

Yup, that’s right.  I’ll give you a bit of the back story on that and then I’ll tell you how I overcame it 😉

I grew up in a very traditional farming family.  My mom cooked two meals every day, without fail, which we called “dinner” and “supper.”  (See we were/are very old fashioned!)  Dinner was promptly at noon and supper was always at six.  During busy seasons, she would take meals to the field for anyone that was out there, but the premise was still the same.

When I got married, I did NOT know how to cook!  My poor mother tried multiple times, but I was a confirmed tomboy and farmhand and I did NOT like being inside doing domestic work!

The first year of our marriage, Jeff and I lived on sandwiches, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese.  He’s easy going about most things, so he really didn’t care.   But after we had kids, I realized that I wanted my kids to have the same meal time memories that I had, so….

I learned to cook.

And I hated it.

But, yet, I cook two meals a day 6 and half days a week (I take Sunday evenings off and it’s a fend-for-yourself/popcorn night!).

The fact that I hate to cook, yet do it all the time, surprises a lot of people!  I’ve had close friends who will confess to me how they just can’t get their meal times together and they wish they could cook as much as I do.  And then they’ll say, “I know you like to cook, though.”  I just laugh and tell them, “Nope! I actually hate it and if I could hire a chef, I totally would!”

My secret is that I’ve made it a habit to plan and cook two meals a day.  I just do.  It’s like brushing your teeth or making your bed.  Do you like to brush your teeth?  Honestly, it’s probably not what you would consider fun, right?  But it’s necessary for your health and well-being.

Cooking meals for your family is the same way.  I don’t enjoy it, but my desire for my family’s health and well-being wins out over my hatred of all things kitchen.

On another note, my autistic son LOVES to cook, so I’m hoping if he ends up living at home as an adult he can just cook for me, ha!

What are your struggles in the kitchen?  Any tips for those of us that don’t enjoy being in the kitchen?

Melinda Donley
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