But Do It Anyway?

A month ago, I wrote about how much cooking has become a chore for me. And I made a pledge:

“In my next post, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I am and am not overcoming that. I’d love to know your thoughts on what makes cooking hard or easy for you, or any tips or tricks you have for making it suck less.”

I wrote those words about a month ago, and I did get some good suggestions from my friend Lori in the comments and from folks on Facebook and Twitter. I’m super grateful, but I’m still struggling.

Two dogs facing away from the camera, walking on pink flower petals from the trees above.

Maybe that’s obvious from the fact that my last post was over a month ago. Because the “next post” had to be about “how I am and am not overcoming” a feeling of cooking sucking. And I have stared at this screen and tried and tried to write something about food and fixing my shit but nothing feels right. Maybe sometimes writing sucks too.

Here are some examples of drafts I have started and discarded:

The plan was for this post to start with discussions of that French toast I mentioned in the previous post and my freezer and mini meatloaves. The plan was also for…


I was going to make mini meatloaves early last week. My thinking was that Bill and I could each have one or two for dinner that night, with some sort of veggie, and I could freeze the rest of them for future meals. … Only, instead of making mini meatloaves and tofu dressing, I discovered I lost my drivers license.

I realize now I was struggling for two reasons. One, that shit was boring. Boring to write, so I know it was going to be boring to read. But I couldn’t spruce it up for another reason: I’m still struggling to overcome and cook more. There is no good punchline or happy ending or any of the other things good stories are supposed to have.

A row of cheese labels and a man's arm and hand grating cheese.

So, yeah. Not much has changed, thus an update feels contrived. I’ve made a few little bits of progress, though: I’m cooking ahead some, and it’s helping some. I’m getting bizarrely good at repurposing little bits and pieces of food (like a tidge of leftover salsa and a single serving of turkey became sopa seca for two). That all feels good.

But another thing I was going to say?

Meal planning and sticking to the plans have been hard for me in the past, honestly. Angelique has been recommending planning strategies for years, and it’s just not worked well for Bill and me. Partially due to disorganization (I’m the most disorganized person I know), partially due to too many frozen choices in the freezer, and partially due to boredom. There’s only so many slices of leftover lasagne we want to eat.

Guess what HASN’T changed much since I attempted to write a post containing the above paragraph? I’m still disorganized and we still get bored. The freezer is less crowded, but that’s not guaranteed to last. Especially if I cook ahead more.

A close up of a bowl of pasta in cheese sauce, contanint both elbow and spiral pastas.

“Cooking isn’t fun” is both the point I’m making and the title of Tracey McMillan’s Slate piece, that I also linked to in the previous post. Problem is, it has the subtitle: “But You Should Do It Anyway.”

I know she’s right. But I’m not succeeding. Not really. My plan for dinner tonight involves leftovers and using up cheese. That’s good. But I also am not working tonight. My next workday is tomorrow night. Friday night. At a bar. Gonna be an exhausting shift.

I have no dinner plan. I feel like I should make one now, and maybe it should involve mini-meatloaves. But what else? Two mini-meatloaves each are insufficient… And hell, who knows what time I’ll be home and if I’ll even be up to reheating some mini-meatloaves and figuring out a side…

And I just realized, as I type this, I also meant to bake bread today. Oops. Sooo… I should go home and do that too. This is hard. Plans are hard to make, and hard to keep.

As hard as I try to change things, my cooking problems remain time and exhaustion. Just swearing not to eat out doesn’t fix that. Totino’s would fix that, but it’s barely better than eating out and it’s not what we mean when we say “Cooking for yourself.”

So, tonight I’m going to stick to my short-term plan and make macaroni and cheese and stir in some chopped brisket. Beyond that, I do not know what I’m going to do. But I’m going to keep trying to figure it out.

A close up of brisket in a to-go container.

Note: I wrote the majority of this post last Thursday, the 7th. I didn’t manage to make the mac and cheese in these photos that night; Bill and I basically had a meat and cheese plate for dinner. Funny enough, though, I got off incredibly early the Friday night I said I would be working late. So I went home and made the mac and cheese. And then the next morning I shallow-fried it up for breakfast. I never did make the bread. We did do a pasta with sausage that Saturday night. So, things are kind of going, but mostly not. And I’m making no promises about what the next post will be, because that’s just a recipe for disaster. Not the kind of recipe I love.

Two lumps of fried mac and cheese on a plate with a fork.