That’s a shocking title for a food blogger, isn’t it? But it’s true! One of my goals for this blog in the upcoming year is to bring you back behind the scenes of my life more often. And what better way to start that than by sharing this surprising fact!
For months, I rarely made dinner. And it was wonderful.
How is that possible, you ask? No, we weren’t eating out, or in the fast food lane every night. When we moved last summer, we ended up at a community living building that is set up similar to dorms (many of the residents are seminary students). Included in the rent of our apartment (with a teeny tiny kitchen) was dinner in their dining room.
I assumed that at least half of us wouldn’t be able to the dinners because of food sensitivities and allergies, but I was wrong! Well accustomed to cooking for those with allergies (there was a significant number of people with dietary restrictions in the building when we moved in), our dietary needs were accommodated. This allowed us to 1) Eat as a community with the other residents. 2) For me not to cook as many meals 3) For us to save a bit on our grocery bills.
If you read our Christmas letter, you know that we had a stressful move from a house with mold issues and that I had a health crisis directly afterward. It was a very trying time. I had severe chemical sensitivities and sudden food allergies. Some of you have written to me to let me know what you also had this happen after mold exposure. I was completely worn to a nub, and it took months to regain a little energy, and it took more months to stop reacting to everything under the sun.
The help with dinner was immensely helpful. But strange too.
Not cooking was strange
I have cooked so much for so long that it was weird not to be cooking dinner. Nice, but very strange. I realized that cooking was ingrained in me, and almost part of my identity. And taking out the biggest meal of the day was a little disorientating at times.
Not cooking dinner was very nice
We’ve had some beautiful meals here, and I didn’t have to cook it, or pay extra for it. WOW. It was amazing not having to cook every night. I could take the girls to ballet and come home to a home-cooked meal. That is pretty amazing!
Community living has been fun
We have loved meeting new people at dinner and talking around the table every night. It has been a joy to do so. I am rather introverted, so I was curious if this was going to be tiring. But I have really enjoyed it.
Because of how this community is set up, we do help with the dishes in the dining hall, and also have a few tasks to help with, but that hasn’t been a problem.
Yes, that meant compromises.
Sometimes my daughters wouldn’t particularly like the meal, and that gave them the opportunity to practice politeness at the table. Yes, not all of the food was organic or followed the standards I usually try to follow.
But what you also need to know about me is that while I am convinced that there is a best way to eat, I’m also very realistic about “real life”. When we looked at my health at that time, when we looked at dinner being cooked for us (always homemade, made with “real food ingredients”, and often vegetable laden and beautiful), we had no problem saying “yes” to it with gratitude.
Part of the reason I wanted to share a bit about where we are at currently is so that you know that I am not dogmatic or judgmental to wherever you are at right now. Yes, we have gone through times of great strictness in how we ate for a variety of reasons. Yes, I think that certain types of foods are “best”. But no, I don’t believe that life is a smooth, perfect journey where you can always accomplish and do everything you desire and want.
And I accept that in my life, and I accept that in yours too.
Why I am making dinner (at least for myself now)
Soon I will be sharing why I am starting the AIP diet. This strict healing diet protocol has made it necessary for me to be preparing my dinners again. While I don’t have to cook for the whole family again yet (for which I am thankful as I have only a toaster oven and two burners and no dishwasher), I am making dinner again every day. And with that decision ends my break from dinner making.
I remain grateful for the break that was given to me during one of the times I needed it most. And now that I am on my feet a bit more, I am happy to be cooking more again.