Potato Dinner

Dinner … again?

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I’ve had an empty nest for about three years and  things are going pretty well, except when it comes to cooking dinner for myself. I hate it! What’s wrong with me? When I was married, I used to put on meals for my husband, our four kids and usually a bunch of their friends. I still enjoy cooking for company or on holidays but after working all day, all I want to do is have some toast and veg out. I know this is not my healthiest choice but I can’t seem to come up with a way to get motivated to feed myself at the end of the day, isn’t that silly?

I know plenty of my girlfriends feel the same – that only having ourselves to cook for is a chore and something we tend to avoid. Or, this is even worse, we just eat anything that happens to be around and is easy … chocolate cake over the weekend comes to mind. Again, not my best self and I do want to do better on this.

I’m not sure if you can relate but maybe others have written to you with the same question? For all of us ‘one-sies’ out here, what can we do?

Done with cooking

Dear Reader,

Not only do I hear from plenty of other ‘one-sies’ on this topic but it is a common concern for ‘two-sies’ as well. I speak from experience. Trust me, my mind often goes blank when I try to think of yet another dinner.

I think it’s understandable that many of us are simply tired of preparing dinner. Now, when it’s a holiday or party time, I can happily spend my entire Saturday in the kitchen. But the rest of the time? It can be a bit of a challenge. Most women have been cooking all of their lives. No wonder we’re burned out, right? There’s nothing like years and years of the same activity to wipe out enthusiasm for something so crucial to our nightly health and well being.

I have to thank you for your letter, as I believe you speak for many on this topic. I hope I’ve found some tips for all of us. Consider these ideas:

1. Plan meals in advance. There are plenty of websites that feature easy, quick menus. (I even post recipes for ‘one’ and ‘two’ on my Pinterest boards.) Also, do a big shopping on your day off … not after work! This way you avoid that end-of-the-day, head-scratching moment in front of a somewhat empty fridge.
2. Always keep a running grocery list in your kitchen. Better yet, have it on your phone. If you find yourself in the grocery store you can make the most of your time there.
3. Keep plenty of staples and ‘go-to’ foods on-hand to eliminate thinking about having enough ingredients to put together a dinner.
4. Make a list of your favorite dinners and focus on cooking them. Who cares if you eat Mexican food five nights in a row, as long as you are looking forward to dinner.
5. Pull out that slow cooker you may have used all those years you were cooking for your family. It’s heavenly to come home at the end of the day to a house filled with appetizing aromas wafting out from the kitchen. Besides, you’ll also have left-overs for a few more dinners.
6. If, and when the mood to cook hits, or when time is available, prepare a huge batch of food. Freeze what you don’t eat that night for further dinners.
7. If there’s room in your budget, buy pre-washed salads and pre-cut produce. (Taking prep time out of the equation helps a great deal. However, in the interest of health, stay away from packaged meals. Most of them are high on sodium and sugars, and low on nutrition.)

Whatever you do, please don’t be too hard on yourself when you have a piece of chocolate cake for dinner! Believe me, there are far more important problems in the world to be concerned about. However, do shoot for as many healthy meals as you can. In the long run, it usually balances out!

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