Making Family Meals Work When You’re Not the Greatest Cook

by Liz Thompson | August 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm | comments

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking: love to cook; hate it when I simply cannot find the time or inspiration to, you know, actually cook something.

My 12 year-old who declares herself a semi-vegetarian (at least twice a month) and each of my 3 teens have issues with food:  the two oldest girls love meat and potatoes, as long as they don’t touch each other on the plate, while my son has personally declared ketchup as a food group…years ago.

Long story, short:  more often than not, at our house, dinner is a crime scene.

What, your house, too?!  EXCELLENT! One of my favorite things about the Together Counts TM program is encouraging families to eat meals around a table, so I’ve come to rely on a few tips and tricks to help make family meals work, even when you’re not all that into cooking.

Keep a staple of foods in the house that your kids actually like to eat:  I hate to be the one to tell you, but teens can be REAL picky-eaters, too.  Good news is that their tastes do continue to change over time.  I’m all for trying out new recipes, as long as I know that it involves food my kids will actually eat – pasta with vegetables and stir-fry recipes are big at our house.

Take advantage of weekly specials at the supermarket:  My husband does most of the food shopping in our house, so he is an expert when it comes to scanning weekly sales flyers, figuring out the cost difference between buying bulk vs. buying with coupons and is a pro at keeping our freezer stocked with staples and meat specials – yes, I am keeping him.

Freezer meals are cool:  it isn’t unusual for my husband to come home with a 10 lb. piece of pork loin, which I then cut up into chops, bite-sized cubes for stew and a roast – that’s 3 meals, right there. Keeping frozen veggies on hand can make side dishes and stir-fry a snap.

Employ the slow cooker:  Next to our vacuum cleaner, the crock pot is my favorite appliance and my new best friend in the kitchen.  Whatever your favorite meal (omnivore, vegetarian or vegan) there is probably a crock pot recipe for it and, just so you know, pizza fondue is perfect for those times you forget to take the meat out of the freezer  – and by you, I mean me.

Consider a few no-cook meals into your weekly menu planning:  Stuff happens (a lot!) and dinner plans can be thrown off (see previous parenthesis), so I like to keep a lot of salad and sandwich-makings in the house – I did mention we have a 14 year-old son, right?  Oh, and almost anything tastes really good wrapped up in a tortilla!

I just thought of another favorite appliance:  the grill, because I am an AWESOME cook in the summer and fall!

How do you get meals on the table when you’re not into cooking?

For more meal-planning tips, check out these Together Counts resources!


Liz started blogging at This Full House in 2003 (when blogging was still in diapers) to connect with other parents, share stories and feel a little less disconnected with life outside her front door, beyond all the dust bunnies and diapers. She continues to enjoy writing about the trials and tribulations of raising four children, a rambunctious lab named Rudolph (a.k.a. Doofus-Dawg) a delinquent cat and killer dust bunnies.