When I graduated college, I could make two things: pasta and cereal. I used to Google embarrassingly-basic things like “how to hard boil an egg” or “how do I know when my chicken is done?”
When my husband and I both worked, pre-parenthood, food was simply something we ate in-between all the other things we had to do. It was stuffing a blueberry muffin in my face and washing it down with a Starbuck’s latte while trying to meet deadlines without getting crumbs in my keyboard. It was coming home after an 11-mile commute that took an hour and throwing together whatever would take the least amount of prep and time.
When I got pregnant, I suddenly cared a whole lot more about what was going into my body since my body was now this insanely magical temple growing another human life. This respect for what I put into my body has only continued to strengthen now that I have to fuel a family and fuel myself in a way that helps me keep up with them. (Let’s forgive my postpartum recovery period in which the unhealthy cravings were far stronger than any pregnancy craving. Let’s just say, there were a lot of Oreos).
Add to my evolving relationship with food a tighter budget, since I chose to stay home with the little man. All things considered, our old habit of eating out three times a week was not feasible. So, the grocery store became a place of serious business; I started meal planning.
And I can’t believe how much I actually like it.
Suddenly, my husband is labeling me a good cook. Friends are asking for recipes. And I’ve built my confidence beyond boiling noodles. I thought meal planning would end up costing more time and money in the name of better food, but the exact opposite has happened. Every ingredient now has a purpose, which is cutting off about $20 on average per trip. And while I have to take the initial time to make my menu (I’m not even going to admit how much time I spend searching for recipes when I can’t fall asleep at night), it does knock off time each night stewing over what to make.
Better yet, I’ve uncovered a passion I didn’t know I had. Cooking is no longer a chore, and I see the kitchen as a fun place of escape and experimentation. Food is more than fuel for my family, it is also what brings us together at the end of long, stressful days.
Every so often, I’ll share my top 10 favorite recipes that I’m adding to the official Family Cookbook, and maybe you will enjoy them too. Some are healthy. Some are not. Some are vegetarian. Some are meat-centric. Some are gluten-free. Some are gluten-overload. But they’re all dishes that made my family fall in love with food just a little bit more.