Wednesday night, I tried a little experiment. I live-tweeted the dinner I made. I did this for a few reasons, but one of them was that I wanted to show that while I don’t believe that everyone can cook every night, I do believe that anyone can cook any night. I know, that’s a little confusing. You see, now and then around the Interwebs, I see folks discussing whether it is possible to cook dinner every night. Some people feel that it is simply a matter of priorities. If you make it a priority to cook healthy delicious meals for your family every day, then you’ll be able to do it. Other people feel that the ability to do this limited to folks with plenty of resources (money and/or time) or those for whom an adult member of the family doesn’t work outside the home. I’m really in a camp halfway between the two.
You see, I’m super busy. I work a full time job (albeit one that allows me to work from home when I want to) and I run a business. Sure, my business is cooking related, but it is very much a second job as I spend anywhere from 8-20 hours a week on it outside of the actual cooking processes. My husband works full time as well. We also work out for between 60 and 90 minutes five days a week and between 2 and 3 hours on day 6. In short, we’re swamped most of the time. Our clean laundry sits in the laundry basket for a week. Our parking strip is full of dandelions. I have a knitting box full of yarn and no time to knit. But on a busy day, one where we arrived home at 6:15pm, I had a healthy, local, and delicious dinner on the table at 7:30, and had plenty of time in between to clean my stove, clean out part of the fridge, harvest some food from our garden, and work for about 20 minutes searching for canning recipes for this coming weekend.
Can I do this every night? Absolutely not. Tomorrow’s dinner is likely going to be leftovers from Tuesday. Reheating will take 10 minutes. Friday, since I’ll be canning in the late afternoon, I’m betting we’re getting takeout. I still haven’t put that laundry away and I have an iPhone development book staring me in the face and mocking me. But given the following assumptions, I can cook a local meal at least 4 days a week.
- I have time on Saturday or Sunday to visit a farmers market.
- I remember to take beef out of the freezer a day in advance of cooking.
- The dishes get done after cooking so that the next day, the kitchen is more or less clean and ready for prep work.
So, no, I don’t think it’s feasible to cook a fresh meal every night, even for me, an experienced cook. Partially because the cooking process isn’t all you have to think about.
You have planning, and shopping, and making sure that the dishes are done so there’s empty counter space for prep, and making sure that you have the necessary pots, pans, and dishes. Then there’s the prep work, and the actual cooking, and then the cleaning up afterwards. So cooking a single meal requires a lot more time than just the time you spend cooking. If you’re not a confident cook, or have dietary restrictions, or your family hates most vegetables, this can be a daunting task.
In order to help folks become comfortable with some easy, healthy, local meals, over the next few months, I’m going to be live tweeting a meal every couple of weeks. This time it was done on a whim, but next time I’ll give you a few days warning and an ingredient list if you want to play along at home. I’ll tweet the steps in real time, with photos. The recipe will be posted the next day. All meals will have a start-to-finish time of less than an hour and will include at least a protein and significant vegetable component. We’ll get to the recipe in the next post, but for now, here’s the twitter stream from Wednesday’s event.
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