I was talking to my neighbor while our kids were playing, and we spoke about our weekday meals. She asked me why it was so very important for me to cook everyday, particularly when I can relax and use takeaway, instant pot, store frozen food etc. and make my life routine simpler.
I pondered a bit about why I’m working myself into a frenzy in the kitchen when I could get away with taking it easy, by planning big batch meals, freezing them and microwaving them for consumption! Why should I cook? What was behind it all?
Well, I grew up in a home where my mom used to make fresh meals three times of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I remember eating hot piping fresh food everyday. Our refrigerator was very small first of all, so there was no place to store anything but the basic supply of perishables. All veggies were off a cart from a street vendor every morning.
Most of Amma’s time was spent in the kitchen. She managed to keep herself occupied and happy by being completely at home, with her sewing classes, chit fund kitties, community service besides caring for our family and additional pets, feeding grooming and keeping us mentally and physically healthy. Same was the case with my maternal grandmother!
Like many Indian households, we had a maid to come clean the home and do the dishes everyday. She was given hot piping South Indian filter coffee with breakfast of the day, a reasonable allowance, occasional bonus money for her family needs, festival bonuses, non-taxed income, unlimited holidays, all our hands me down clothes for her adolescent daughters and leftover food. That was the norm. She would pack away all the food in boxes to take home to edit and fix them, to feed her family of five.
Here in the US, if I made a big batch of anything outside of one meal, it goes into an airtight glass box and slowly makes it way to the back of the refrigerator. It goes into a box first only because I do not have the heart to thrash good food and I don’t have a maid who will eat the leftovers. At the end of the week (or month) it will only be forgotten, not to mention rotten, and cringingly thrashed.
It basically comes down to the fact that I do not eat leftovers, and that’s how I grew up. HP also does not eat leftovers. That’s his preference. According to him, a good chef should learn to make the right amount of one meal, not too much, not too little! Yep! I know! So I’m learning, and getting better. My meal proportions are usually 1.5 for one meal, so I now end up carrying it for my lunch the next day. I can’t spend my energy and money thinking about where to go for lunch and what to eat, so I’m happily eating last night’s dinner for lunch the next day.
If you see the food habits and patterns, it arises early in our childhood. Like most of us have read, everything starts from home. If I did not grow up seeing my mom balance her interests and that of the family, I would not be able to do what I do today.
Both HP and I want to make sure that we inculcate this to our son. We want him to see us cook a meal, feed him, provide for him and put together a contented and happy life.
So no matter how tired I am, I am finding ways to keep myself motivated on weekdays to create and spend quality time by cooking at home, to get my son interested and learn about his food. So this Instagram weekday meals is mostly to keep me going, a way to inspire others in the process and enjoy cooking and create memories!
Carpe Diem my friends!