....For the time being only regarding the issue of cooking.
I cook for my family.
There. I said it. And you know? I'm happy about that.
I am not a gourmet cook. But I can put a nice balanced meal on the table, night in and night out.
I'm also not a "from scratch" purist, either. I've never been known to turn up my nose at help from any quarter! I don't care if a recipe starts out with 7 different cans of stuff (like my taco soup recipe). If it's good and we like it, its worth doing.
I'm not a talented cook--like Erik K--who can just wander through the supermarket and decide what to do with all that lovely stuff. But give me a recipe that uses that lovely stuff, and I'm a whiz. In general, if I can read it, I can make it.
When PapaC finished school for the second time around (at age 40!), we decided to see if I couldn't find a way to stay home with our kiddo. (Homeschooling was only a thought at that point!) It was obvious, since we were dropping my VERY good paying job (I'm an ex-accountant by trade) that economizing was going to be not just a theoretical "good idea", but a practical necessity. What that meant, for us, was a commitment to eating at home.
Even eating cheaply, a dinner for the three of us at your local fast food joint (and who wants to eat that all the time? Not me, and I love it.) costs between $10 and $12. I can put a screaming meal on the table for that amount of money. For the money it costs the three of us to go to Chili's or somewhere on a level up from McD's, I can feed us all steak. I mean, really, the costs are not even close.
When I started cooking at home, I hated it. I didn't know what I was doing. We'd always eaten out a lot. I wasn't used to the very daily-ness of it.
I was also trying to do too much.
I had to learn that a yummy casserole or hearty soup, paired with a salad, is dinner enough. If you add a cornbread muffin or a crescent roll? Well, that's high cotton! Good food doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be 15 different things at once. Sunday (or Saturday or whenever) you can break out and do something fancy. The rest of the time? Think SIMPLE.
I started keeping a recipe book--our family cookbook, if you will. Things we tried, liked, and have eaten time and again all go into the book. Back in our homeschooling days, it was a lot of soups and casseroles, with a lot of cookie recipes (my favorite!) thrown in for good measure. Now that I'm not running a Cub Scout den, or schooling a kid, I have more time, so there are a few more recipes for grilling or for stir-frying, etc. Your mileage may vary. But if you can find 15 recipes that are easy enough to make and that your family loves, you are on your way to cooking Alpha-momdom.
I can hear Smock now--"but we're all picky eaters, and picky in different ways!" That, I can't help you with. We all eat what's on the table around here. The things I am pickiest about (hello, asparagus!), I just don't buy at the grocery. That's the benefit of being chief cook and shopper. The other things that aren't my favorites, but the boys like? I just schedule them on a night when I'm going to book club or Women at the Well meetings. The rest of the time? Eat it, it's good for you.
In the interest of boosting all your Alpha-mom chops, I'll give you a few recipes over the next few days that are yummy, easy, and fast.
Uber easy, and uber delicious, this one may have come from Weight Watchers, since it specifically calls for skinless breasts. I will say, you can really use any pieces that you like. They all work.
1 6-oz can orange juice concentrate, thawed (NOT MIXED WITH WATER!!!)
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Mix the thawed OJ concentrate with the dry soup mix.
Pour half of that mixture into a baking pan large enough to accomodate your chicken pieces.
Place chicken pieces on top of sauce and pour the rest of the sauce on top.
Cover and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.
This is delicious served over rice. It comes with highest recommendations from Zman, who used to think this was the "best dinner ever, Mom!"