What’s For Dinner?
25 Oct, 2011
A multi-tasking mom has a recipe that you won’t find in any cookbook.
My husband doesn’t understand why I ask the question. The answer to it looms large in my daily life. And just knowing the answer is not enough.
“What’s for dinner tonight?”
I ask it first of myself, doing an inventory of my obligations for the day, what’s in the fridge, the family activities for that day and what we ate the night before. I must also take into account how I’m likely to be feeling at 6 PM, and will I really want to eat “that.”
So at roughly 6:45 in the morning, five days a week, I try to resolve the dilemma. Having this question answered allows the rest of the day to happen. I don’t have to think about the nourishment of my loved ones for another 11 hours.
The requirements are complex. I must have the ingredients. Prep and cook time must equal one hour or less. There needs to be a protein and some vegetables. It must please all four of us.
The cooking shows make it look easy. It is not.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only woman that asks this question. Sometimes I ask others “what’s for dinner?” I often get a quizzical response like “uh, chicken.”
I probe further. How will you cook it? What will you serve it with? How long does it take? Rarely do I get an answer that makes me say, “Hey, that sounds good. I’ll make that too.”
But my dinners have “legs.” I know this because my friends tell me that they are making the blah blah I told them about. I try to share my wisdom of dinner in an hour or less, and my recipes for survival on particularly crazy days when activities butting up against the dinner hour on both sides leave barely enough time for a meal.
For our family, dinner is more than a meal. It’s a time when we can all look each other in the eyes and find out how each person is doing.
We start each meal with a toast. Sometimes we toast an upcoming activity, or a recent success, or simply getting through a particularly grueling day.
Our meals feed our bellies and our hearts.
My husband is a great story teller and always has stories about the antics of co-workers, embellished into caricatures to such a degree that the kids long to hear about what took place that day.
My son, ever the inventor, explains his newest idea, which we then talk about in terms of market potential. My daughter recounts the activities of her friends in the neighborhood, along with wonderful color commentary about her teachers.
Ever the planner and taskmaster in the house, I review homework assignments, club activities and family schedules.
It brings our busy days to closure. We connect with each other and refresh our souls for the next.
My husband’s answer to my question is always the same: “Something delicious.” It almost always is.
Teressa Jiminez is a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and full time employee for a major technology firm. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC.