Dinner. Making it is my least favorite domestic task. I’ll take a manky toilet and a mountain of laundry over dinner duty any day. If it were up to me, I’d have a good strong gin and tonic and a bag of pretzels for dinner. But I have kids, and kids can’t survive on gin alone. They need protein and maybe something green. Being the (mostly) stay-at-home parent, I’m the one who ends up cooking dinner most nights, but I am an extremely reluctant chef. Here’s why:
1. Grocery shopping. Trolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Safeway each week in search of foodstuffs has got to be one of the seven circles of hell. Between the deadly competition for parking, the discovery that I’ve left the list on the kitchen counter, the jockeying for position in the produce aisle and the shame I endure when I forget to bring the reusable bags, I’d rather be getting a root canal.
2. The five food groups. In an attempt to be a responsible parent, I force myself to plan well-balanced dinners for my family, but I’m constantly thwarted. Not everyone will eat the same vegetable and I’m not making broccoli and spinach. If they ingest two out of the five during their third meal of the day, I’m golden. That means cereal qualifies as a healthy – and my favorite – dinner option in our house.
3. Raw chicken. We eat a lot of chicken; thus, I’ve mastered exactly three chicken dishes – Indian Chicken, Fiesta Chicken and Roast Chicken – which we eat on the regular. The problem is, I’d rather be up to my elbows in little kid poop (and believe me, I have) than have to come in contact with raw chicken. It’s slimy and an off-putting pinky-beige hue, pale yellow strings of fat cling to it, and if it’s still got the skin, it looks too close to alive for my liking. Ick.
4. Cooked chicken. Because, steak. Juicy, salty, seared-to-perfection steak. Just saying.
5. I smell like Alice from Mel’s Diner. I can’t stand the way I smell after cooking. Even though I put my hair up and run the air-sucking hood vent on full blast, I still end up smelling like a short order cook. I stink of curry, onions, garlic or — horror of horrors — roast chicken for days. Not attractive.
6. I ruin my clothes. Without fail, I manage to drag a sleeve through the marinara sauce or accrue a smattering of oil stains down the front of my shirt from sautéing organic, locally sourced kale, spinach or, again, onions. Me making dinner often results in me replacing my t-shirts. Obviously, I should wear an apron.
7. Aprons. I do not like aprons. They’re too retro. They make me think of those 1950s sitcoms where the mom was always in the kitchen cooking (ugh) or sailing through the house waving around a feather duster. Aprons make my inner feminist bristle, so I’d rather ruin my umpteenth t-shirt than wear an apron.
8. No one comes when I yell “dinner!” After dramatically announcing that they’re “starving” every five minutes for the last half hour, my kids are nowhere to be found when dinner is actually served. Suddenly they can survive on a steady diet of Minecraft, Sofia the First and How I Met Your Mother.
9. Nobody eats what I’ve painstakingly prepared (emphasis on the pain). Either they’ve secretly gorged on the Mike and Ikes and mini Twix in the favor bag from last weekend’s birthday party, or they abruptly — and unbeknownst to me — no longer “like” Indian Chicken.
10. Clean up. The pile of greasy plates, the food smeared across the table…hold up: she who cooks is off the hook for clean up, right? Awesome. Pass the wine.