A new kind of dinner

As mother to an 8 week old, I would like to start a new blog segment entitled “Real Simple lies to me: One pot dinners, 20 minute meals and other untruths”. The topic of which is clear. How can you not include preparing ingredients and all of the other things that get dirt…? Forget it, the stew I made for dinner is delightful.

Having a baby has been a lesson in flexibility. I used to be able to cook and eat whatever my heart desired. Artichoke heart stuffed shells with lemon béchamel sauce? No problem. Brioche au chocolate? Sounds like a great 3 day project.

I’d make a list, do my shopping (whenever I felt like it), and cook and bake at my leisure. But things change…

Really mom? The store again?

Really mom? The store again?

The first couple postpartum weeks were a nice combination of fridge stocking by my aunt and uncle, pizzas from friends, and visits from family who cooked or helped cook. Then, I viewed the transition to normalcy as a transition back to “old normal”. I continued to menu plan for whatever sounded good and failed to scrutinize ingredient lists, note the time that it takes, or decide whether it would freeze well or not. It made for a stressful couple of weeks. I couldn’t really start dinner in earnest until Jon got home, and then we wouldn’t get to eat at the same time because little Amelia would need something or other and then Jon would clean up the kitchen while handing the baby back to me. It didn’t take long to decide that this wasn’t worth it. This wasn’t how I wanted to spend my evenings.

It’s not an overnight shift but we’ve moved towards simpler recipes and discovered the wonder that is Trader Joe’s premade foods. Frozen falafel? That normally takes an overnight soaking, then an hour plus a lot of chopping for a veg salad and then fair amount of clean up time with a dirty food processor and filthy stove from frying. Grilled marinated chicken breast? An hour to marinate and then the winter oiling up of the grill pan. Turkey stuffed peppers? Lot of ingredients to assemble and they are not good as leftovers. It was tough at first, felt like “cheating” that dinner could be so easy, but the reality is that it’s not more expensive than making these things yourself, there are very few unpronounceable ingredients, and this is a temporary life phase. My priorities are fast, healthy and tasty. I want to eat and be done with it so I can be with my family.

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