Cookin' up something

The Holidays are coming. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and about a dozen events in between today and New Years day. The one thing most of them have in common is the tradition of lots of homemade food.

Whether you are a day-in, day-out cook or not, there's something about The Holidays that draws out our inner Martha Stewart (or at least Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee) and pulls us into the kitchen.

True confession time....

I don't really like to cook.

Actually, I do like to make fancy desserts and special occasion dishes; it's just those daily breakfast, lunch and dinner meals that I can't get all excited about.

In the years before I was married my pantry contained thirty varieties of tea, a huge assortment of spices, flour and sugar (I had a set of canisters--I knew what to put in them), various types of pasta, and several boxes of Jell-o.

During that time, as near as I can recall, I lived primarily on yogurt, stuffing mix, ramen noodles, and macaroni and cheese.

And I ate out.

A lot.

It wasn't that I didn't know how to cook. My mom started teaching my sister and me kitchen basics before I reached junior high school. She worked full time and would often leave instructions for minor dinner preparations. We started with simple things like peeling potatoes and putting them on to boil, mixing up cornbread or baking powder biscuits, and graduated to preparing a baked chicken or simple spaghetti sauce from scratch.

By high school, my sister and I were each responsible for dinner one night a week. We chose the menu and prepared the meal, learning lessons about how to plan a balanced menu and get all the food to the table hot at the same time.

After I moved out on my own though, I found that the fresh foods I was used to eating spoiled before I could use them up. I also learned that I would rather go to the dentist than to the grocery store. It's hard to prepare a real meal if there's no food in the house, so I just never got into the habit of cooking.

But a funny thing happened after I got married. I still didn't like to cook (or shop for food), but suddenly, I felt responsible for making sure my husband had nutritious, good food to eat. Before the wedding, I didn't mind if we ate fast food several times a week. After, it bothered me that he would be content eating cold cereal two out of three meals a day. Add toast and PB&J or grilled cheese and you've got the boys' default menu too.

I'm still not fond of grocery shopping, and I don't like spending a lot of time in the kitchen either. But I do find an unexpected sense of satisfaction when I prepare a tasty, healthy meal for a fraction of the price of eating out. And now that we've added kids to the table, it's even more important than when it was just the two of us (and frankly, eating out with kids isn't the relaxing experience it used to be).

God is the ultimate example of providing for those in His care. We demonstrate our care for those we love, and thus reflect God's love as we make efforts to provide healthy, appealing foods for the people we care for. While this is a factor all the time, I'm trying to remember it especially as I begin holiday preparations. I want the meals and goodies and celebrations to be more service than stress and ultimately one more gift to offer my loved ones.
"My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

"She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family..."
Proverbs 31:15a

Up to simplify shopping--and save money while you're at it!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Are you living my life in the kitchen? I haven't quite made the leap to feeling completely responsible for my family's healthy eating, but I always feel empowered when I take the time to make a good meal. My husband is a great cook, so we share the load.

Truly, if I had my preference, I would eat out most days. I will be doing my fair share of cooking this holiday season and will welcome the looks of surprise and gratitude my kids give me as I prepare. They are always so surprised to find me in the kitchen with a pan in my hand.


Liz said...

Me too! I do not enjoy daily cooking, but love the 'froo-froo' side of cooking (desserts, table settings, fancy soups). Thankfully, Matt loves to cook. And I love to clean. It works.

RefreshMom said...

I left out that little detail...Hubs' cooking is pretty much limited to toast and scrambled eggs (which does come in handy for fixing breakfast for the boys). I guess that's where part of my sense of responsibility for it comes from; with pretty rare exception if we're going to eat home-cooked food, the cooking is up to me.

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