5 Reasons I Hate Cooking (and the Ingenious Way I Got Out of It)

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Ever have something you’re expected to do, but never like? As a wife of 35 years, I’ve resigned myself to bed making, vacuuming and dusting. I get almost Zen-like about folding laundry and emptying wastebaskets. But cooking? It pushes me to my limit for these 5 reasons… 

Cooking comes at my tired time of day. This was especially true when my kids were little. I always had visions of Martha Stewart-inspired meals with homemade chicken potpies and raspberries soufflés. Instead my family ate turkey burgers and ravioli. What can I say?  I was exhausted from chasing tots all day.

Even now years later when dinnertime rolls around, I’m ready to put my feet up and relax. I love food. I love a good meal. I just don’t want to be the one making it.

Cooking involves going to stores and buying things. I always have romantic visions of a French farmer’s market. Homemade breads, cheeses, olives and fruit spill onto a wooden table manned by a handsome guy in a beret.

The reality? I’m pushing my steel cart through cavernous supermarkets looking for… fish sauce? Coconut oil? Flax seeds? If I wanted a scavenger hunt, I would’ve signed up for summer camp. Get me out of here.

Cooking is messy. First, there’s the pre-cleaning to get the kitchen habitable. Then there’s the prep with its piles of chopped onions, tomatoes, and celery that get everywhere.

Then, God help me, there’s the aftermath. Pots and pans need scrubbing. Burners need scouring. Countertops need wiping. The floor needs sweeping. Is it just me? I make a simple meal and my kitchen looks like the morning after a frat party.

Cooking means I have to eat more. I know this sounds like a weird problem, but sometimes I just want cookies for dinner. Is that so strange? Needless to say, this doesn’t go well with my husband and grown sons. What is it about males that need actual food at mealtime? I know women who can survive on Greek yogurt for days.

Left to my own devices, God knows what I’d live on – cheese, grapes, crackers, chocolate, pretzels, ice cream… anything that doesn’t involve turning on a burner.

Cooking produces guilt. Crazy as it seems, after all this kvetching, I’m not a bad cook. When my back is to the wall I can actually produce a decent dinner. Okay, I’m not the Barefoot Contessa and I’m as far from gourmet as one can get, but I can throw supper together.

My family seems so grateful when I actually stand behind the stove, I feel bad. We’ve done take-out the past four nights. These people probably don’t remember what home meals taste like.

But I found an ingenious solution…

I raised a son who goes to culinary school! Yup, my diabolical scheme 22 years in the making worked!

My youngest Paul loves to cook. And I think it finally dawned on him, if he’s going to get a decent meal in this joint he better do it himself.

Now (get ready for this), I can say to Paul: “Honey, can you make Chicken Florentine tonight?” He’ll shrug and say, “Sure.”

He goes to the store (happily!) and buys the ingredients. He comes home, puts on classical music and (happily again!) starts prepping. He chops onions. He pounds the chicken breasts and sprinkles salt on them.

He sautés garlic and spinach. The house smells heavenly. I come into the kitchen, thrilled. There’s food being made and I’m not making it!

But wait, there’s more. And this is the part where I want to drop to my knees and thank the universe. Paul cleans up after himself…every bit.

Yes, my son takes ownership and pride in our kitchen I never could. My son is the cooking mother I never was. Within a year, he’s surpassed my decades of mediocre meal preparation like I was standing still.

And yes, I know I should enjoy this gift while I have it. Paul’s adorable, smart, and likes to cook. Young women aren’t stupid. Someday he’ll be gone.

But for now, take that Martha Stewart. Maybe I never cooked homemade chicken pot pies like you, but through some ridiculous, undeserved miracle, I did something even better.

I raised a chef.

 

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Does anyone else have a problem with cooking? I’d love to hear your thoughts… and solutions.  If you like this piece, please consider pressing one of the magic buttons below.  If you’d like to receive posts by email, just hit the subscribe link up above. Thanks for reading!

48 Comments

  1. I am sooo jealous! Any tips on how I can raise a chef? My fourteen year old may be a lost cause, but could there be hope for my eleven year old who likes to (sometimes) squish the nasty raw meat in his hands? I go through spells where I enjoy cooking but I’m pretty sure it’s something about the stars aligning and the Chinese calendar having to be just so. Most days, all your reasons apply.

  2. Laurie Stone

    Karen, Your eleven year old sounds promising. Paul was always messy and loved to touch and smell things. Just on a lark, we suggested he take cooking and it worked! Maybe you could have your eleven year old, ahem, start “helping” in the kitchen. It could be the start of something big.

  3. Wow, you are lucky. I don’t mind cooking. Most of the time I really enjoy it actually. I’ll pour myself a beer and pull all the materials out and put on my favorite apron and music. I encourage people to come talk to me while I cook. It’s the nicest I am to anyone all day.

    The problem I have is when things are busy. The first sign that I’m losing control of my life is those nights dinner time rolls around and I’m just flat unable to cope. People start whining about being hungry and I yell “can’t we just make sandwiches?” only to find out the bread’s moldy. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of pizza.

    The OTHER problem I have is running out of ideas. When I’m putting a grocery list together and say “what does everyone want for dinners this week?” I get a lot of “I don’t know,” and it makes me want to gouge my eyes out. But my son says “mom, what I could really use this week is some of your potato/leek soup,” and I swear I’ll mow throw a crowd of angry zombies to get the ingredients from the store.

    I’m trying to teach my older son to cook something besides mac and cheese. I’m finding that he’s completely helpless in the kitchen (despite loving potato soup). I’m worried he’ll move out and live on frozen burritos and cup-o-noodles.

  4. Laurie Stone

    I also like when my family asks for something specific. It makes me more motivated. When there’s just a chorus of “Who knows?” it drives me crazy. Love your beer and company idea when cooking. That definitely makes for a better time!

  5. It is my embarrassing secret how much I avoid cooking wherever possible. It comes right on the heels of homework time 🙂 and my most exhausted point of the day.
    I end up going the easy way – – buying whole pre-cooked chickens at the grocery… Already smoked fish :-)… – – But I need to step it up.

  6. My stepson is the chef in our family (but he doesn’t live with us any more!) A while back I signed up for Blue Apron and while I still have to cook, it takes all the planning and shopping out of the equation and for that I am grateful!

    • Laurie Stone

      Mike, Wow, you help your wife cook?? You’re a hero in my eyes. No need to be Jacques Pepin, the effort means everything.

    • Laurie Stone

      Christina, I think there’s a small sub-culture of people who like cookies for dinner. We just don’t admit it often.

  7. my husband has taken over more and more of the cooking at our place – I love it! The thing I like best is not having to decide what to have for dinner – I just sit down at the table and make complimentary noises 🙂

  8. I’m not quite as successful as you yet – – mine is 10 🙂 but I’m trying to train her early to love love love to cook. For me 🙂

  9. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Adorable! Both your son and your story. Although I do enjoy cooking, I can relate to much of what you outlined here. And yes, I could totally have cookies for dinner. Which I sometimes do.

    • Laurie Stone

      Helene, Thanks for reading. So happy to hear there’s another cooking-eating dinner person out there!

  10. Your son is adorable and you are so right someone is going to scoop him up! I love to cook and do most of it one day a week. I make a mess and yes I hate cleaning it up. The rest of the week all we have to do is heat it up. No mess.
    Have a great week!

  11. Can I borrow him for the next X number of years? It’s been so long since I cooked a meal. Well, sometimes I do. When my son was younger I’m make creative meals from cookbooks but I doubt he remembers that! I make a great lasagna and meat loaf and the rest is c/o Trader Joe’s! (Hello from the Women of Midlife group!)

    • Laurie Stone

      Cathy, I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who’s cooking-challenged! Thanks so much for reading. So glad I’m part of Women of Midlife. They’re a wonderful group.

  12. This post feels like you were standing in my kitchen! All the reasons I hate cooking:( And what a great idea, I have a 10 year old son…maybe it’s time he learned:) Thanks for the post!

    • Laurie Stone

      Marnie, Boys, surprisingly, can be a wonderful resource in the kitchen. Might want to teach him early, you never know. Thanks for reading.

  13. Food always tastes better when someone else makes it – especially when it’s your kid- who’s a chef! Job well done!

  14. Men have always done the cooking in my family. My father was a CIA trained chef so I grew up eating wonderful meals. My husband is also a CIA trained chef. Cooking is not something I like to do. When my husband met me, he opened my fridge and saw milk, beer and condiments. He opened the freezer and found a row of healthy choice meals.

    • Laurie Stone

      Wow Jennifer, you hit the jackpot! Both father and husband love to cook? How lucky for you. Sounds like a great arrangement. Thanks for reading.

  15. What a glorious piece. Take that, Martha, indeed! I can relate to all your barriers–which you’ve described hilariously–with the exception of one. When it comes to real food for dinner, I’m with the guys on this one! But I also happen to think a turkey burger counts.

    • Laurie Stone

      Suzi, I think a good turkey burger, with all the fixings, definitely fits into all the food groups. Thanks for your kind words.

  16. Some people get all the luck. My daughter is a Holistic Nutritionist. She comes over to my house like a sergeant in the army and rifles through my cupboards felt pen in hand marketing my food with labels like “diabetes causing”, “poison” and “white death” and you get chicken rubbed with salt and garlic. Sheeesh! 🙂

    • Laurie Stone

      Diana, Wow! Although your daughter might like chicken with salt (a little) and garlic. Who knows? Love the felt pen.

  17. My husband was the cook. For 47 years. Neither he nor my mom even let me in the kitchen. On my own now, I can barely shop, prepare or clean a pot. But I eat well; grabbed right onto the Farm to Table thing! Baked potato in the microwave and lots of raw veggies! Voila! Luckily my two granddaugters enjoy cooking and know their greatest gift is making me scrambled eggs! LOL

    • Laurie Stone

      Joan, Sounds like you have a great system. Left to my own devices, I’d eat the exact same way! Why do men always need meat on the table?

  18. This post could have been written by me! (If I could write as well as you! ;)) The only thing missing is my own ‘Paul’. Could we arrange for a clone, do you think? How does Paul feel about donating his DNA?

    • Laurie Stone

      Diane, Laughing… I’ll have to ask Paul about donating his DNA. You never know! Thanks for the kind words and I enjoy your writing too!

  19. Cathryn

    Yes, yes, yes, to all of the reasons you listed . . . and I must admit that I’m jealous that you have Paul. And the fact that he CLEANS UP . . . I don’t even know him and I think he’s awesome.

    • Laurie Stone

      Cathryn, Paul is awesome, although since he works hard these days, its harder to get a meal from him. But once or twice a week? Heaven!

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