Dad as Head Chef

June 13, 2013

One of the reasons my role of Chief Household Officer and stay-at-home-dad works for our family is that I am a pretty good cook. My wife is also a good cook and makes a mean omelet and poached salmon on occasion but I do most of the cooking.

You can’t cook without food shopping so I take this part of the process very seriously. I make a list, clip a few valuable coupons and put them on a clipboard. I never use the coupons where you have to buy 100 rolls of toilet paper to save 50 cents. I pack up our reusable bags and bring any plastic ones for recycling.

I go to Stop & Shop which has the self-scanner system which I love since you don’t have to put everything in the cart and then take it out at check-out only to put it in bags and put it back in the cart. I scan, bag, pay. Done and gone.

I also use the deli kiosk to order cold cuts so I can shop until they are ready. “Order 12 is ready for pickup.” No time to take a number.

I try to shop once every two weeks and spend around $300. Done right, this should feed four people breakfast, lunch and dinner. I know it is time to shop when we are eating rice and toast and we’re almost out of toilet paper.

Well, enough about shopping, this is supposed to be about cooking.

I try to grill at least once a week, usually on the weekends, and cook as much as I can until the coals die. This way we will have various meals throughout the week. Chicken, fish, turkey burgers and dogs, pulled pork, pork chops, grilled peppers and onions. And now, I’ve been doing grilled pizzas. Grilled pizzas are great because everyone can make their own using some of things I just grilled. I make the grilled pizzas using whole wheat dough from either Stop & Shop or Trader Joe’s with light mozzarella cheese and the crushed tomato sauce from Stop & Shop which is only about $1.00 a can. I add extra oregano and garlic powder for more flavor.

For sides, we make rice and broccoli, pastas and salads which we can use throughout the week. So, during any given week we can make chicken wraps with peppers, onions and lettuce, chicken salad, fish sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches or chicken burgers.

Of course, the kids have their chicken nuggets and mac and cheese but we also give them plenty of apples, strawberries, bananas, blueberries and raspberries. I usually make the kid’s meals to order, kind of like a restaurant. My wife frowns on this and wants us to have a “family meal” where we make one thing and everyone eats that but, realistically, that only happens on Thanksgiving and Christmas. For those holidays, I usually smoke a turkey on the grill which I will explain in a future post.

Otherwise, I also make turkey meat-loaf, grilled cheese with tomato and ground turkey tacos. Sometimes for breakfast I will make homemade Belgian Waffles using a professional waffle maker my brother gave me. I make these using whole wheat flour and make two batches: one with blueberries and one with chocolate chips.

In the summer we make pesto using basil from our garden. We use it with our tomatoes to make pesto pasta and pesto pizza. Our pesto is strong and garlicky. My Dad calls it green dirt. But we love it and it keeps the mosquitos away. More on our garden in a later post.

We don’t buy soda, potato chips and candy and no one seems to miss it. Besides, if anything in a crinkly bag enters the house it is immediately consumed by me. I must protect my family from such evils. Right?

It also helps that we love to watch food based shows like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and BBQ Pit Masters. Sometimes the kids even rate my food based on presentation, taste and visual appeal. Oh brother!

I realize this has been a very matter-of-fact post but I wanted to explain the process that enables our family to function just a touch more smoothly. When you are not cooking whole meals from scratch every night you have more time to enjoy with your family. Plus, grill time is fun time with the family on the deck with music, a few drinks and good food for all. What more could you ask for?

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