As a stay-at-home mom, the stocking of the kitchen and making of meals has generally fallen to me. (Translation: my husband can’t cook…and our daughters have a few horror stories to prove it.) I’ve always made an effort to provide healthy meals and snacks and, for the most part, those have been made from scratch. But when you’re under contract and under deadline, things slide. A lot of things. Dusting, laundry, cooking and, sadly, even grocery shopping fell victim to my desperate attempt to produce words as the days ticked by.
Thankfully I keep a garden, so we at least had healthy choices over the summer…though I must admit to a distinctly lukewarm attitude toward salad after several months of eating nothing but. With the approach of fall and arrival of winter, however, the garden slowed and then stopped production…and people started to notice the dearth of available foodstuffs (translation: they whined…a lot). For a couple of weeks, I filled the gaps in fridge, cupboards, and stomachs with convenience things: frozen, canned, kit-form…all of which made their way into the house around 5 p.m. when I realized I’d forgotten—again!—to start dinner.
Then, while browsing a bookstore one day (see how valuable bookstores are? And how neatly I slid their importance into the conversation? J ), I found an entire book of crock pot recipes. And not the kinds of recipes that require a half-hour and half the pots and pans in the kitchen to pre-cook the foods before you put them into the crock pot, either. Nope, these recipes were all of the toss together, set on low, and walk away for seven hours variety. My kind of under-deadline cooking.
These days, I make up a weekly menu, make a single trip to the grocery store for what I’m lacking, and generally have dinner made while my morning coffee is brewing. The grocery bill has plummeted, I feel a whole lot less guilty about what I’m feeding the family (and eating myself!), and I no longer face that “oh, hell, I did it again!” realization when I look up from the computer at the end of the day.
So when I say the crock pot is my best friend, trust me…I am not exaggerating.