by Lisa

Since 2009 Pete Wells has been writing a column in the NY Times magazine about cooking with his family. This past Sunday, he wrote his final column.

In it, he confesses that he never really figured out how to cook dinner after working full time–and get it on the table in time for his young children to enjoy it.  It’s an honest column about the dilemma many parents face. If you don’t work full-time, chances are you have volunteer obligations, a sick child, or after-school activities and car pools to run.   It’s certainly next to impossible to involve the kids on a weeknight if there’s homework and sports or just some much needed playing to be done. It can be downright hard to get a homecooked meal on the table.

I work mostly from home, so I’ve written about how prepping at lunch time, or in a quick few minutes after school can make the evening run much smoother. But lately, my book launch has brought a million moving parts to my life, and I’ve been scrambling up to the very last minute I have before picking the kids up from school, supervising homework, gettin them to their activities. I’m exhausted at the end of the day. I have a freezer full of food and a refrigerator full of fresh produce, and yet, I have little energy or time to cook. It’s almost like having a newborn:  if I have to do one more thing (i.e. prepare food) I just might fall apart. But still, we still have to eat, so I’ve gotten by on very easy things like fast pasta, easy fish tacos, a few more dinners out on weekends. And last night…I took a page from Wells’ wish list (healthier frozen food that goes from freezer to oven to table) and pulled out the frozen breaded tilapia filets. The kids had fish sandwiches and fries and a big side of steamed romanesco.  Kory & I had a pot pie that I had made the day before from a frozen pie crust and the leftovers from Sunday’s roast.

We got by.  Tonight, I’m making this fish soup, from homemade broth, also made on Sunday from that Sunday Roast Chicken (which makes 3 meals total from one bird). It sounds fancy and tastes fantastic, but it takes only about 15 minutes to cook and much less time than that to prep.

I know this will pass, and I also know that I am not the only one who faces this issue–whether all the time or just periodically. Like Pete Wells, we’d love to know what you do when you’re truly too busy to cook, and eating out is not an option.