I read an Opinion piece in the New York Times – Pay People to Cook at Home I think there are some very valid points about valuing the work (traditionally considered Women’s Work) done at home – but I am concerned by this statement. “It’s nearly impossible for a single parent or even two parents working full time to cook every meal from scratch, planning it beforehand and cleaning it up afterward.”
I worked in daycare, though, for years, and I know that many of the parents did cook dinner every night. (I often heated up the leftovers for the child’s lunch, the next day, and we sometimes talked about time management in the evenings.) I also know that this scheduling problem gets easier as they get older (though you no longer have the time after they go to bed for prep work…) Again, I think, we are caught up in the Cooking Mystique – the idea that it must take hours and hours, and huge effort.
Although I do not have children, I do have a chronic illness, and I have had to learn shortcuts. There are times I simply do not have the energy to do much, times I have to turn to Rich and ask him to cook, times we pull something out of the freezer. So, I make sure there is something *in* the freezer, or something he can cook without direction, or something I can throw together. It does take planning, though not necessarily the precise charts often described.
I have learned to cook food for more than one meal. I have learned what wonderful servants a handful of kitchen appliances really are. (There are jobs that do take time – but it doesn’t have to be *my* time.) I have learned a few things that can be easily prepared in advance, to make another meal easier. I have learned the convenient foods that are not Convenience Food, but real food – that is convenient.
And I have learned how to walk into the kitchen knowing only that we will have chicken tonight, and have a delicious meal on the table in half an hour. It may not be exciting, it may be something we ate last week (with a few flavor tweaks) but it is good – and it is Dinner.