It takes a lot of time to make sure a family is well fed. I try to eat fresh ingredients and unprocessed food. It’s cheaper and it tastes good. The challenge is it takes a lot more energy and time to make that pound of carrots into Lightly Curried Carrot Soup (doesn’t it look yummy in those mason jars?) than it does to buy a tetra pack of pre-made soup. I live with two teenage boys and a high energy life partner who eat about 3,500 calories a day. We basically cook for 8 at any given meal and there are rarely leftovers. Thing is, on weekends where I’m out for a long ride or evening I’m trying to hit the pool all that prep time is a a big pain in the kiester.
This past week I was madly typing up assignments for a distance ed course I’m trying to finish. I had a few hours of overtime at work and some social commitments with friends. No workouts, no time.
My oldest son is now sixteen and asked if he could help me out during my crunch time. My partner has entered a busy time at his paid work, spare time is sparse on the ground. I gladly accepted the offer and he made amazing dinners all week as well as baked goods. It was a wonder to come home to meals and a clean kitchen.
It’s not lost on me that the times when my partner was a grad student he cooked the majority of the meals, now my work schedule is the more contained and flexible so the balance has shifted. Many of my woman identified friends have never had a reprieve from the majority of meal making, I’m fortunate and yet it still irks me to be on the hook for all the groceries and meal planning. It’s very Simone de Beauvoir baking and bringing tea to Jean Paul Satre and his friends. It chaffs my neck that even in a family that thinks about these things the external forces at play re-inforce this gendered division of household labour.
The benefit for my son is a sense of pride in contributing to the family’s well-being while honing important life skills like making meals. For my partner and I, it is a little less running madly about. You can’t workout without nutritional support but that time to make the food eats away at the time available for other kinds of wellness.
I’m very lucky my son has begun to realize he has more available time than the grown -ups do (Thanks to playing Simms3 but that is another story) to help the family function. The food matters a great deal to all of us. The more we can make it the less we spend on it and the more money we have for doing fun things like walking, biking, swimming…and occasionally running.