My cooking confession

26 Apr

I have a confession to make. I am a quasi-fraud. I sit here, writing and advocating for cooking healthy meals from scratch yet when it comes to my own cooking, I cheat. I use foods from cans and jars. I used a few prepared foods. And I am only slightly ashamed of it.

To my credit, there are a lot of foods that I do cook from scratch: soup, pizza crust, cookies, cakes, icing, burgers, mashed potatoes, iced tea, etc. I chop my own vegetables and fruit. And with the exception of some Lightlife or Morningstar Farms products, and the occasional Lean Cuisine, I do not buy prepared frozen foods. But as a working mom, I just honestly and truly do not have the time to bake my own bread or can my own preserves. And if I’m being honest, I really don’t have the desire to do that stuff, either.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are just certain foods I’m OK with buying already made for me. Here’s a sampling:

  1. Tomato sauce–yes, I will bulk it up with my own fresh vegetables or TVP or soy burger crumbles but I cannot remember the last time I made my own sauce from scratch. But I’ve come a long way from Jewish mothers of the past (for old school Jewish mothers, tomato sauce=ketchup).
  2. Beans–I have tried to use the dried beans. I know they’re healthier, I know they’re cheaper and I know that they’re a pain in the butt. Canned beans, however, are a lifesaver for me especially when I’m in a time crunch.
  3. Garlic–I buy the prechopped, jarred garlic. I know it’s cheating but I cannot stand mincing fresh garlic. I usually wind up just smooshing the whole clove and it’s really sticky, too.
  4. Condiments–I know I could make my own salad dressing. I can’t imagine that it’s that difficult. But I can’t (and won’t) give up my Heinz ketchup and have you ever had Marie’s salad dressing? Delish.
  5. French fries–so I may have lied a little. I do buy frozen french fries. I have tried to make my own and quite frankly, they’ve always turned out pretty gross. So, I’m sticking with the frozen kind. Oh, and I buy frozen onion rings, too.
  6. Morningstar Farms–I mentioned these products earlier. They have sausage, bacon, chicken patties, ribs and chicken strips (they used to have beef strips but no longer. I care not to discuss this). Having these foods on hand allows me to have chicken parmesan, breakfast sandwiches, and chicken nuggets, among other things. It’s a way to feel “normal” when I eat ; as such, they remain part of my diet (though less now than when I first stopped eating meat).

So there you have it. My cooking confession. I don’t make everything from scratch. I hope you can forgive me.


6 Responses to “My cooking confession”

  1. the great pbj battle April 26, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m a working mom too and my goal is to do the best I can. I love making things from scratch, but when you get home at 5:30 and your kids are freaking out because they’re so hungry…freshly prepared just doesn’t happen…especially when it involves an hour and a half of simmering.

    I love making beans from dried, I love making my own spaghetti sauce, heck I’ve even mastered bread…but those things only happen on the weekends. During the week its hope I have time to bake a potato and steam some broccoli. 🙂

  2. Sarah April 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    I am with you 100% on this. According to my contract, I am not supposed to work more than 40 hours a week, but this is never the case. I am no stranger to back-to-back 12 hour workdays, followed by a 30 minute commute between my school and my apartment. Though I try to plan for these days to be a leftover day for me, it doesn’t always work out. I always keep a stash of veggie burgers (I am in love with gardenburger’s veggie burgers) and morningstar farm/Quorn products in my freezer.

    As for making your own dressing, check out the recipe I posted under the spinach and mango salad post on my blog. It was my first homemade balsamic vinaigrette and turned out incredible! I’m going to post another dressing I made later today. It only takes 2 minutes to make these dressings.

  3. Melissa E. April 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    I hear you! I’m a mom who works full time, and I can tell you I resort to the jarred garlic as well. Otherwise my fingernails smell like garlic for a week! I didn’t know the dried beans were that much healthier. Ugh. Another thing to feel guilty about. I use the canned ones, too.

    I would recommend trying your own bread in a breadmaker sometime, though. I started almost a year ago and my family loves it. It takes just five minutes of prep time and in three hours I’ve got a fresh, hot loaf of whole wheat bread. I tweaked several recipes and found the perfect one.

    I guess, with food, you have to do what you can. Isn’t every meal that you cook from scratch a triumph? It’s not a tragedy if you can’t do that for every meal.

  4. Tammy McLeod April 27, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    Totally forgiven! You’re doing a great job on so many important thing – cut yourself some slack. I do. I love to cook from scratch but I’m also not a lot of fun to be around when totally stressed and you know the old adage… when mom’s not happy – nobody’s happy.

  5. Jennifer April 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    Seriously, you should make your own salad dressing. Takes all of 5 min., store it in an old mustard jar with a lid and it will keep up to a week. Here’s a recipe to get you started: juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup water, 1 or 2 minced garlic clove, 2 teaspoons grated ginger root, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix and serve. You will love it…or your $ back!


  1. A little something that makes me laugh « The Empty Kitchen - January 10, 2011

    […] have disclosed several secrets about myself on this blog. First, I confessed how I cheat in the kitchen. Then I confessed that I don’t drink coffee.   I have yet another confession to make. Here […]

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