In a recent post, I discussed the feeling of contempt that even the most zealous cook can feel during these hot summer months. I live in North Carolina, and let me assure you that the heat wave we're having is enough to force anyone out of the kitchen.
The other day, while grocery shopping, I was thinking about this problem. My family still needs to eat nutritious, homecooked meals WITHOUT me slaving away in the kitchen every night. What to do, what to do? When I was in high school I had a friend whose mother would spend all day on Sunday cooking and dinner would be completed for the entire week. I never tried it before since the question "What's for dinner?" can elicit a bevy of responses on any given day but I decided to give it a try.
So I cooked, and cooked and cooked. All day on grocery day. Not a single protein hit the fridge or freezer; every vegetable was cleaned and chopped. Even the noodles were boiled to al dente right away. And even though I quite literally cooked all day, I found that I enjoyed my day in the kitchen, and what I enjoyed even more was the possibilities it presented. I let out an audible sigh of relief at the thought of a day without stressing about dinner at 2, knowing it would take until 5 to decide on something. I smiled at knowing I would not have to pull out another pot, pan, spatula or spoon for the next week. I lavished in the thought of not washing dinner dishes every night this week. And it felt gooooooooood.
See, I discovered that the main symptom of Summer=No Cooking syndrome is the feeling of drudgery that overcomes you when you know you have to prepare, cook and clean up when you would rather be doing something else. Summer invites so many activities ranging from outdoor water fun, to gardening to bike rides, beach trips and ball games that it can really suck the fun out of once pleasant everyday tasks like cooking dinner. So the clear solution to all of these problems (the need for healthy, wholesome meals, avoiding prep and clean up, and freeing time to do other things) is to get it all out of the way up front. Don't even waste time putting that stuff away. Go ahead, plan a cooking day. And then let the endless possibilities of what you can do unfurl into the next seven days. Ahhhhh, sweet summer!