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How I Solved the ‘What’s for Dinner?’ Panic

I’ve been a mother for more than eight years. I’ve been a human for more than 37 years. And yet I am completely baffled by the notion that my family expects to eat dinner every night. Like, every. single. night. All the nights. They want dinner!  It doesn’t even seem that unreasonable, I guess, if I really think about it. But somehow I have struggled with actually coming up with a way to avoid dinner causing me an overwhelming amount of stress (every night).

I worked full time for the first seven-and-a-half years of my motherhood. And almost every single day went like this:

4:00 PM (sitting at my desk at work) - OH MY GOD! DINNER! I FORGOT ABOUT DINNER! AGAIN. THEY’RE GOING TO WANT DINNER! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR DINNER! (Email/text husband and ask if he has any ideas or suggestions for dinner. He does not).

4:15 PM -  Temporarily forget about dinner because, you know, I had an actual job to do.

4:45 PM - OH MY GOD! DINNER! FUCKING DINNER! WHY??? WHY DO I HAVE NOTHING PLANNED FOR DINNER??? Maybe they won’t be hungry. No, that won’t happen. They’re going to want dinner. GOD DAMN IT. DINNER.

5:00 PM - Leave work with no plan for dinner. Vow that tomorrow I will have a plan for dinner.

6:00 PM - Feed family some random meal that at least half of them refuses to eat. Do not make a plan for the follow night’s dinner.

Repeat 5 days a week for 7.5 years.

Now I’m a SAHM, but I still can’t seem to get it together enough to plan dinner ahead of time. Instead of coming up with ideas for dinners that my family can refuse to eat, I spend my time yelling at everyone and breaking up fights over whose turn it is to go to the mailbox before the mailman gets here and then cry when there’s no mail. And then we wind up eating mac and cheese out of box for the fourth night this week.

Finally my husband (bless his heart) got fed up with the half-assed dinners and did some research into meal prep help options. There are lots out there (based on what he told me. I couldn’t look into it myself because I was busy not planning dinner). He finally decided that what would work best for our family was to join Cook Smarts. Being the complete asshole that I am, at first I was offended that he dare suggest that I might need some guidance in the dinner preparation arena. I mean, no one in our family had died of starvation, had they?!? Obviously I was on top of everything.

But then I realized that (maybe) he was right. I agreed to give Cook Smarts a try.

And you know what?  It’s amazing! It takes all the guesswork out of dinner. All of it! They give us a grocery list, I buy the items on that list, and then I make one of the four meals they provide each night. That’s it! It doesn’t require any thinking. And it’s obvious that I excel when little thinking is involved.

The menu provides recipes for four different meals per week plus options for vegetarian, paleo, and gluten-free versions. What I love most about Cook Smarts is that the recipes are for an entire meal, not just an entrée. There’s always a vegetable or salad included in the recipe, which gives my family the continued opportunity to refuse at least part of every meal.

salmon-dish-food-meal-46239We’ve been Cook Smarts members for over a year now, and in that year I have been forced to find other ways to disappoint my family because now dinner is a no-brainer. My kids are 8, 6, 3, and 2, so there are, of course, meals that they refuse to eat. It’s less because they don’t like the meal and more because they’re just jerks. My husband and I, however, have been so happy with the variety and quality of the recipes that Cook Smarts provides. And Cook Smarts saves all the recipes that you make so you can go back and make your favorites again.

The people at Cook Smarts aren’t giving me anything to say nice things about them. And the fact that I’m over here saying nice things and expecting nothing in return really says something about them as a company, because you know I don’t usually just go around saying nice things about people and their businesses. It’s just not my style. But Cook Smarts deserves all the praise. Because they, unlike my children who literally never stop fighting, seem actually interested in making my life easier.

So, if you’re anything like I am, and dinner causes you stress (because, I mean, really? Every night? Can we all just agree that that’s a bit excessive?), then go ahead and give Cook Smarts a try. Then you can focus your energy on something more important, like who stole whose lip gloss and who left the top off the purple play-doh (both of which, I am led to understand, are punishable by death in this family).

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About Anna Thornley

Anna Thornley is a Jersey Girl living in the Wild West with her husband, their three children (with another one on the way) and two dogs. She desperately misses the beach and humidity but tries to remember to appreciate the beauty of the mountains. She works full-time outside of the home and is generally frantic in her attempts to keep everyone (and everything) moving in the right direction. Her house is a mess, but everyone in it is happy and loved—so she considers it a success. Anna spends almost all of her free time doing laundry. Her family loves to spend time together watching football and playing outside. Anna is still trying to come to terms with the fact that her family expects to eat dinner every single night. Follow Anna on Twitter to keep up with all her family’s antics: @rudeytudeymama

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