What to Do When You Don’t Wanna Make Dinner

In the five years I’ve owned this blog, I’ve gone from stay-at-home mom who loves to cook, to cook-at-home mom who dreads making one more recipe. It’s not that I don’t adore standing over a stove. Because, lots of times I do. It’s just that life has gotten so much busier. I make recipes full time, I’m writing cookbooks, I’m constantly chasing deadlines on a wildly packed editorial calendar. And, I’m still doing the other mom stuff, too–carpooling and field tripping and making sure the kids make it to school with socks on–nevermind if the socks even match anymore.

It’s in the middle of sheer survival mode that we start to cut priorities. We hone down all the things we want to do to the things that just have to be done, letting the riff-raff fall by the wayside. And, by riff-raff, I mean all the things that would elevate me from harried mom to Pinterest rockstar. I’ve plum near given up on Pinterest worthiness. I thought it mattered for a while, but discovered that kids enjoy parties just as much if I’m not penning every invitation with my own blood while wearing a feather boa. And dessert is much nicer when it’s a simple bowl of strawberries rather than this brownie-baked-in-a-cookie-baked-in-a-donut-hole nonsense. I no longer have time for it, and a I no longer have energy. I’m not giving up on magical motherhood, just giving up on the uncatchable consumer-driven dream that magical motherhoods must include five trips to a craft store, a bottle of Mod Podge, and fifteen cans of metallic spray paint.

As I hear myself writing this, I think there will be a few long-time Cheeky Kitchen readers who bemoan the lighthearted, carefree days of my previous cupcaked self.

Those were the days, you’ll say. Back when everything started with two sticks of butter and she actually made St. Patty’s Day buttermint patties for her lucky little ones.

Thing is, my kids sat behind the scenes while I molded those little suckers. They lay on the floor begging for attention. Or played with friends in the culdesac after I’d shoo’ed them outside. Too often, I’d toss the entire batch down the trashcan, in a half-hearted attempt to save myself from devouring the entire batch when I started craving calories. There were lots of cravings in those days. I was always hungry. I was always too busy to go outside. Always running too fast and too much, fueled by white sugar and wheat belly and the dream of catching some picture-perfect image that didn’t look anything like my life.

And so, I simplified. Started working more out of sheer need (such a need arises when you find yourself suddenly single after 15 years of marriage), but also started letting go of more. Let the kids go to school without heart-shaped braids, let the dishes go undone while I laid on the couch and watched TV with the kids, let the laundry pile up while I went on bike rides and out for trail runs.

And I started getting really honest with myself. Started looking at the daily activities I was avoiding because they took too much time, or were boring, or hard, or uninspired. And I started to make changes to those things. Cutting them out entirely if I could, retooling them if they stood up to the retoolment, and approaching everything else with a fresh set of plans.

One of the Daily Dreads? Dinnertime. I don’t know if it happens at your house, but after a full day of work, and a full afternoon of afterschool everythings, I find myself too often avoiding the kitchen. The thought of heating a pan and filling it with food from the freezer, making yet another batch of tacos or yet another french bread pizza or yet another anything that any of the kids will eat without whining makes me tired. So, I avoid. And we so often end up doing a dorky dinner. One of those ones that is half-hearted and hectic. Happening too late in the day to be enjoyable. Eating food that gets us through, but doesn’t really make us rad.

Which got me thinking. Really, there’s got to be a better way. Why must dinner be such a drag? And so, in cahoots with the delicious Susie from ecBloom, we’ve pulled together 15 fun ways to kick a cool dinner into high gear…quick. It’s over on Babble today.

And with that confession, let’s talk candor for a moment. How you doing? How’s your dinnertime? What drudgery has got you down? I’d love to hear.

In the meantime, hi.

It’s been a helluva year-and-a-half. I’ve gone and disappeared from writing and storytelling here, because I’m worried that I’ve changed too much in my head and my life to be relevant to the Cheeky audience anymore. I worry that those of you who came for the sweet talking Conversations with a Cupcake will be all sorts of weirded out by my paleo-eating, socially liberal, shit talker I’ve discovered inside. I hope not. Because I’m way the hell funnier nowadays. And life is so wild and wonderful, there’s much more adventure that there ever was back when a big news day was folding the laundry and walking the tots to school.

There’s been polygamous dating offers, wild work adventures, and tender mommy moments when one of my tots told me he was gay. Life is good, guys. It’s really, really good. And, I wanna share if you’re up for listening.

There will be gin. And probably a lot of steak.

But mostly, same as there has always been, there’s a lot of me. Mom of four, kitchen love, skinny jeans seeking, cupcake sneaking me. I’m still here.

Let’s make dinnertime funner. Let’s make life radder. Let’s do it together.

You in?


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8 Responses to “What to Do When You Don’t Wanna Make Dinner”

  1. 1

    Danielle on March 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm Reply

    Gosh I love your honesty and I can so relate, sympathize, and learn from your words. I’m at the stage where I need to simplify and realize I don’t answer to “them,” rather I answer to my family!

  2. 2

    Kendra on March 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm Reply

    I’m in!

  3. 3

    L. E. Bruce on March 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm Reply

    Looks like I got here just in time for the good stuff!

  4. 4

    peg on March 12, 2014 at 12:13 am Reply

    WOW!!!!! This looks like a interesting place to visit.

  5. 5

    Sandy Cooper on March 12, 2014 at 6:22 am Reply

    I just have to say, I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been here since your “Conversation” days. I thought that was cute and adorable, and I always loved your whimsy. I’ve made several of your recipes and I always love reading what you are up to.


    This post is the real dealio. And it just makes me love you all the more.

    I especially appreciate the real picture you give us behind the scenes when the blog pictures include perfectly placed confections in proper lighting. The fact that kids are on the floor whining or that you shoo them outdoors. It makes me feel more human. It’s affirming in a hundred different ways.

    So, while you may lose a few people who think your content is no longer “relevant.” the exact opposite just happened in me. I’m hear and I’m all ears, girlfriend.

  6. Pingback: What to Do When You Don’t Wanna Make Dinner ~ Recipe Guest Post

  7. 6

    Dianne M on May 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm Reply

    I’m with Sandra, above! Thank you and keep it coming!

  8. 7

    Aggie on June 22, 2014 at 5:18 am Reply

    Popped in to see what you were up to…love this post. I just had my 3rd child and all that was my life before has gone out the window! The blogging world isn’t as appealing and dinnertime sucks. I don’t enjoy cooking like I used to but because it sure isn’t relaxing or fulfilling anymore, it’s rushed and hurried and I’m exhausted.
    Pinterest parties – no thank you. All that work my kids could care less.
    Thanks for your honesty here! I’m glad I stopped by!!

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