Wednesday, February 01, 2012

wfmw - What counts as cooking?

While I was making dinner a couple of weeks ago, my teenage daughter wandered through the kitchen and asked if whatever I was doing counted as cooking from scratch. I can't remember exactly what I was making -- I think it might've been beef stew or something like that. I'd opened a few cans of vegetables, but I wasn't using any packets or mixes.

Is that cooking from scratch? Or is it cheating? What if I was using frozen veggies instead of canned? I've got a good friend who butchered her own cow a while back and wants to render her own lard someday. She definitely cooks from scratch!

When I was growing up, we ate dinner at home most night, but dinner usually involved a box or seasoning packet. (Sorry, Mom, if my memory is distorting things.)

When I got married, if I cooked if was from boxes and seasoning packets. And whatever category frozen fish sticks and french fries fall into. No matter how hard I try, I am not good at cooking. I can bake and usually have predictablly decent results, but dinner? That's a nightly gamble.

Two or three years ago, my husband said he'd be happy if we never had Hamburger Helper again. I never actually asked him if that meant the particilar variety we were having that night, or if it means all of the "dinner that starts with a box" options. I didn't want to know the answer.

What counts as "cooking dinner?" I've been trying to figure that out for a long time now. Buying a pizza from the take and bake place doesn't count....but a frozen lasagna from Safeway somehow sort of does. I can buy two rotisserie chickens from Costco for less than the sale price I saw for whole chickens at the grocery store yesterday. But then I'd lose points in my own head for not cooking.

And what about those seasoning packets?

This Swedish Meatball mix from McCormick is my new favorite dinner. They taste way better than the frozen meatballs we used to get now and then. And I get to at least pretend I'm cooking.

Tuesday afternoon, we stopped at Safeway to get celery and pie crust for the dinner I had planned. Because I can't make my own pie crust and my daughter, who can make good pie crust, isn't here tonight. When I'm there, I always check their meat sales and if there are good deals I'll plan the week's dinners around them.

This time they had chicken fried steak (with a sell-by date of today) on clearance for half off the sale price, making it something like two dollars a pound. We love chicken fried steak and fight over the left overs. So that'll be what we're having for dinner. The rustic pot pies can wait for later this week.

Is that cooking dinner? Or cheating?

And while we're talking about food, I wanted to share a free book I found while browsing Amazon for stuff to download to our Kindles. The free titles sometimes don't stay free, so please make sure you check the price before you order. I know, it's the August issue and this is February, but it'll help us plan ahead. There's an article about drying food in your car and another on clothes lines. I really want a clothes line next summer.

You might also be interested in checking out Craft Business Heroes - 30 Creative Entrepreneurs Share The Secrets Of Their Success.

This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday at We are THAT Family and Waste Not Wednesdays at Jo's Country Junction.


Lori said...

I do cook a lot from scratch but, our lives are so busy and some prepared item are so good, why should we work so hard. Besides, it leave more time for sewing!

Denise :) said...

I prefer to cook from scratch and try to avoid processed foods, for the most part. It's not always practical. When the kids were younger (and here) I tried to balance, but every once in while (like weekly) Hamburger Helper made its way onto the dinner table. But it was made with venison butchered by my father-in-law -- does that make it better? LOL! :)

Kathy said...

I don't really like most mixes and processed foods, but as far as I'm concerned, rotisserie chicken and other grocery store foods DO count as cooking from scratch -- you just have a little help from the store. If you do any crockpot cooking, check out the crockpot365 blog for some great family-friendly ideas.

Dirt Road Quilter said...

LOL! Your post made me laugh. I think you have to do what works for you. When I married, I could not cook. My mom was a wonderful cook, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I married a rancher after graduating from college and I was thrown to the wolves when I had to cook for a crew of 12 cowboys, 3 meals a day for a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I learned to cook...from because we live out in the middle of nowhere and it was an hour to town. We've always had a freezer full of beef. I was teased to no end when our daughter heard someone say Hamburger Helper and she said, "What's That?". I've never bought it so I guess that makes me a from scratch cook. Don't beat yourself up over it - I'm sure your family is well fed! :)

Liberty said...

I love cooking, but totally get that it's not your thing. (i do render my own lard, but can't do anything crafty!)
that said - as an encouragement - I think I'd use my corckpot ALL THE TIME if I were in your shoes. I cannot recommend crockpot365 hjighly enough. You will love her and her incredibly easy recipes!

Lee said...

Your post makes me smile a lot today! On any given day I cook 'from scratch' at either zero or ten and anywhere in between (ready-made to totally scratch outside of butchering my own animals as I have none edible). Last night was hot dogs with sauteed onions and a can of Bush's baked beans. The onions might count as cooking from scratch. I'm with your husband though on those Hamburger Helpers. I tried one awhile back as I hadn't had any since probably the 70s, maybe 80s, and now I remember why! Ugh! A good standby "from scratch" is tuna noodle casserole with canned tuna, spiral noodles, mushroom soup/milk, Frenchs onions and peas. Hmmm, doesn't look very 'from scratch' but it didn't come ready-made so it counts in my book. I once new a lady that many considered a 'gourmet cook'. She made a mahvelous beef stroganoff. Her secret? Schilling/McCormick stroganoff mix and she'd simmer the beef with some wine. Loved it!

Saska said...

If I turn the oven on and cook meat from a raw state, I consider it cooking from scratch. So what if I have to add a seasoning pkt to didn't come from McDonald's and I consider it a lot healthier than the hot and ready pizza that we do have about once a month.
I do order frozen vegetables that just need microwaved....they are ready in less than 10 minutes and on the table to feed whoever is here.

Do you remember the commercial "Scratch is on isle 9"? My kids still talk about that.


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