Planning and cooking family meals takes up around 10 percent of my total time each day.
Is that right? Wait a minute, that seems too small.
Another way to look at it is to take out the fixed time, like sleep (8 hours, LOL, I wish) and work (8 hours) (16-24 hours=8 extra hours in the day) and then getting family dinner on the table (2.5 hours on average, which includes meal planning, shopping, cooking, and clean up) takes about one-third of my "extra" time (2.5 hours/8). Let me say it again:
Planning and cooking family meals takes up about 30 percent of my total extra time each day.
That's time I could be using on other things, like exercising (or let's be realz, getting a pedicure), doing puzzles with Josie, reading the New Yorker, floating in the neighborhood pool, living the Fitbit life, teaching Josie to swim, going to the movies with my husband. The list goes on.
Somewhere along the way I decided it was important for all of us to eat together. That it is worth my time and effort. It's purely selfish of me really. I like sharing meals. It's one of my favorite things to do. So while I don't really love the planning and cooking part, the end justifies the chore of it all.
Sometimes I want to toss in the towel. I've considered Blue Apron and Plated, the services that do the planning and shopping for you, but they cost a lot more than just doing it yourself, so I haven't made the leap (I haven't ruled it out either, especially since a lot of my friends, working Moms like me, rave about them). I suppose I could just wave a white flag and give in to my husband's version of dinner, the one where we all stand around the kitchen sink eating bowls of Cheerios like members of a fraternity.
I haven't given up yet, though.
So for all of these reasons - that it takes up so much of my time, that it's a chore, but that I really want a make family dinner a part of our life together- I was pretty stoked to receive an advance copy of Dinner: The Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach of the blog Dinner: A Love Story. Unlike her first book, this book is not a cookbook, though it does include recipes. As the title indicates, it's a tool that helps you diagram dinner. It offers a place to start.
And it promises to get you out of your planning and cooking dinner rut. That's where I am right now, a bit of a rut. I know how to plan meals, how to shop, and, heck, I even know how to cook. But, much like what Jenny hilariously describes as The Great Dinner Rut of 2006, we are eating the same old dinners every night. I need a few new, but reliable dinners to add to my roster, and I could use a few tricks from the experts.
I should add that I need some inspiration on feeding little people because not only am I tired of planning and cooking dinner, but my almost-three-year-old daughter has entered a new phase. This phase, simply stated, is called NO NEW FOOD.
(Here's our current list of food Josie will eat: rice, macaroni, lentils, hummus, bread, pita, eggs, spaghetti with tomato sauce, chicken, chicken fingers, meatballs, steak, broccoli (mood dependent), carrots, cucumbers, avocado, cheese (sometimes), apples, blueberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, peanut butter, toast, butter, tortillas, quesadillas, sweet potatoes (sometimes), and all things dessert, including cake, ice cream, cookies, candy).
So for the next week (or four?), let's try some new dinners.
I need some performance measures to see how well this works, specifically:
- I want to break out of my dinner rut.
- Add new meals to my repertoire.
- Teach Josie how to try new things without, as Jenny says, "checking myself into a mental hospital."
- Move from good to great on the planning meals front.
THAT IS ALL.
p.s., My goal is to post Playbook dinners the next day, but If you want to follow along in real time, catch me on instagram.
p.s.s., If you are a blogger who is also playing along with DALS, please drop your URL in a comment, I would love to visit you and read about your experience. FOR THIS LOVE STORY ABOUT DINNER, WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.