30 Minute Meals for the Rest of Us

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I have tried over and over again to master 30 Minute Meals.  Not a heat something up I brought at the store 30 Minute Meals, but  real 30 Minute Meals.  You know, one with fresh vegetables, meats and a grain, that is wholesome and satisfying.  A meal made with ingredients I buy at the store and prepare myself.

untitled (9)Actually, I am pretty good at meeting the My Plate guidelines.  My kids may not     appreciate my efforts to provide them with nutritious meals, but a least I know Michelle Obama isn’t talking about me when she complains about our kids not eating healthy.

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Sure, she can smile. No one is going to interrupt her while she cooks.

My problem is getting the meal made in a reasonable amount of time without having to start making it in the middle of the day to have it ready for dinner.  So, of course, I watched the Queen of the 30 Minute Meal, Rachel Ray.  No matter how I try to keep up with her, or any of the 30 Minute Meal suggestions that I find in magazines, cook books or websites, I never can do it in 30 minutes.

I’m no master chef, but I know my way around a kitchen.  I get the ingredients ahead of time so they will be in the house when I need them.  I follow all the directions.  So why?  Why am I 30 Minute Meal failure?  Because, like everything else in my life, it must be that I am doing something wrong.  Right?  I need to be more organized.  I need to be more peppy, that seems to work for Rachel Ray.  I need to try harder.

images (4)At least, that’s what I thought.   Then I started paying attention to what I do when I am cooking.  There are a lot of things they don’t account for on Rachel Ray’s show or in any of those cookbooks, magazines or web pages that have vexed me for so long.

These are all the step that the 30 minute meal aficionados have never included in their meal prep projections but that certainly affect mine:

  1. Child 1 enters the kitchen asking, “What is for dinner?”.  When I answer, he asks, “But, what am I having for dinner?  Because I’m not eating that!”.  To which, I reply that he has to at least try its.  I point out that I chose this recipe because I thought he would like it.  Child 1 then leaves the room mumbling about “another disgusting dinner”.  I try to remember what I was doing.  (Duration:  1 minute, 30 seconds)
  2. Child 2 enters the kitchen asking “What is for dinner?”.  I answer him and he replies, “What can I have after I try it and don’t like it.”.  To which, I reply that he has to at least try it, then he can have some fruit and/or yogurt (just like every other night).  Child 2 then leaves the room mumbling about “really wishing we were having pizza”.  I try to remember what I was doing and to keep from screaming.  (Duration:  1 minute, 45 seconds)
  3. I go into the refrigerator to get the next ingredient and find it is no where in sight. Even though I just put it in the refrigerator yesterday afternoon, the ingredient I need has been pushed to the back of the second shelf and is stuck behind the deli drawer.  I empty the second shelf, retrieve said ingredient and try to remember where I was in recipe. I vow that tomorrow night I will take out all of the ingredients before I start to make dinner. (Duration: 3 minutes, 14 seconds.)
  4. Child 2 asks if I can help him with his homework.  I explain that I am making dinner and will help him after.  Child 2 says he wants to get his homework done now so he can have free time after dinner.  I tell him I am busy.  Child 2 mumbles under his breath about “Stupid Mom.  Never does anything when I want her too.” and starts to have a tantrum.  I settle Child 2 down, help him with his homework and go back to making dinner.  I make a mental note to call Child 2’s teacher and tell her that I think homework is stupid. (Duration: 6 minutes, 38 seconds.)
  5. Child 1 comes in to tell me that I have to see what SpongeBob is doing. I tell him that I never have to see what SpongeBob is doing.  Child 1 then proceeds to describe to me in detail everything that SpongeBob has done during the entire episode, which distracts me.  When Child 1 finally leaves the kitchen, I realize I have skipped a step in the recipe and must go back and fix it.  I try to figure out what I am doing and wonder if it would really hurt to stick a knife in my eye.  (Duration:  7 minutes, 4 seconds.)
  6. The house becomes eerily quite.  I push on through thinking I might actually finish making dinner in 30 minutes.  (I do realize that I am already over 20 minutes into the process but I enjoy deluding myself.)  I decide to set the table.  (Duration:  4 minutes – because Rachel Ray never sets the table.)
  7. I hear yelling from upstairs.  I ignore it.  I am almost done and want to wash some dishes before I have to clean the after dinner dishes. The yelling continues and now includes the word “Mom”.  I run up stairs to find Child 1 sitting on Child 2’s head.  “Are you going to stop saying that or are you going to smell the wrath of my gas?!”  I separate the children and send them to their rooms.  “Are we going to be able to come down for dinner?” asks Child 2.  “Yes,” yells Child 1 from his room.  “That’s part of our punishment.”  I smell something burning and run downstairs.  For a moment I hope I will fall down the stairs so I can go to the hospital instead on continuing to make dinner. (Duration: 5 minutes, 29 seconds)
  8. I discover that I didn’t turn the burner off and the rice has burned.  I decide to serve dinner with bread, instead.  I wonder why I haven’t started drinking.  (Duration: 3 minutes, 17 seconds)
  9. I call the children down for dinner.  Child 1 insists on helping by getting water for everyone.  I start to put food on the plates.  I turn to walk to the table, slam into the still open refrigerator door.  Food goes everywhere.  This startles Child 1 who starts pouring water on the table instead of in the glasses.  Child 2 complains that he is getting hungry and “why is dinner taking so long.”  As I clean up the message and listen to Child 1 explain why it is all my fault that he spilled the water, I wonder why we don’t eat at McDonald’s regularly. (Duration: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

We are finally seated at the table some 60 something minutes after I started my 30 minute meal.  My children push the food around the plate.  Child 2 comments that “at least the bread is good.”  I realize I don’t need to have dinner on table in 30 minutes because I’m lucky that I get dinner on the table at all.





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