Last week, after a particularly difficult and exhausting day at work, I came home with my credit card in hard prepared to order pizza for my 11-going-on-30-year-old “boy of the house”. I was feeling less than creative on the culinary front and wanted to jump into fuzzy socks and sit under a blanket as fast as possible.
I was promptly shut down and lectured by the boy. Pizza, he informed me, is not healthy. In fact, the last time he had pizza at school for lunch, he “used 4 napkins just to wipe off the grease”. Did I know that eating junk food and fast food can create a host of health issues? Did I know it causes depression? Did I know that this guy once ate only McDonald’s for a month, traced his progress, and ended up unhealthy? Well? Did I?
Wait – the last one sounded familiar.
Turns out, his sixth grade health class at school is watching “Super Size Me” (Morgan Spurlock), and it’s really sinking in. He’s a boy on a mission and is determined to cut any potential health risks associated with food. This doled out a healthy dose of “mom guilt” to me, and I had to concede.
Not only did I concede, but I have been forced to actively participate. To be fair, anyone who knows me knows that I’m generally considered a healthy eater. I don’t fry things, I stay away from red meat, and I really try to limit my cheese intake (that’s a hard one). However, mapping out dinners for the week has never been my thing. My grocery trips generally involve wandering down the aisles, aimlessly throwing healthy items into a basket, and attempting to quickly combine them into something that resembles dinner during the week. It’s not the best system possible, but we don’t starve, we rarely eat out, and our BMI is normal.
In an attempt to support his new healthy eating campaign (and alleviate feeling like a shitty mother), we set off to plan a week of dinners and turn it into a grocery list. We Googled our hearts out, checked out websites like Cooking Light and Fitness Magazine, and gathered a bunch of recipes that looked easy enough to make, healthy enough to eat, and didn’t involve ingredients like truffle oil or guava paste.
Fast forward to tonight, and finally to the real point of the story. Here’s how it went:
5:30 pm: Arrive home, check recipe list. Yep, Shrimp Orzo it is. Perfect, I took the shrimp out for defrost this morning.
5:31 pm: Shit. The shrimp is still frozen. Remove shrimp and attempt to defrost on the counter.
5:33 pm: Gather ingredients. Mushrooms? Check. Green Onions? Check. Orzo? Double shit. (I had a list and everything!)
5:33 pm: Quickly decide I’m not going to the grocery store for orzo. Have to find something else to make.
5:34 pm: Search the net for orzo substitutes. Briefly consider chopping rotini noodles into tiny pieces, and immediately veto it. I think hunger and desperation are getting to me.
5:35 pm: Find a recipe for Shrimp Fried Rice. I don’t have regular rice, but I have Rice A Roni. Google “shrimp fried rice with rice a roni” and find a recipe. Score!
The rest of the experience is a comedy of errors (or a tragedy, depending on how “chef” you are). I realize my Rice A Roni is the 4-cheese kind, resulting in the decision to leave out the soy sauce. I don’t have plain frozen peas as the recipes insists you have, but I have the steamer ones with baby mushrooms included. I don’t have shredded carrots, or whole carrots for that matter, so I’ll leave those out. Same goes for the bok choy.
The result was not Shrimp Fried Rice, and it definitely wasn’t Shrimp Orzo. It landed somewhere near the 4-Cheese Shrimp and Rice with Random Vegetables category, but he asked for seconds. I’m not convinced it was the picture of health, but I am convinced it wasn’t pizza so we at least made it that far. I added it to the “recipe book” that I am in the process of creating for the “one day he’ll be an adult and will need to cook for himself. He’ll need my “thrown together” stuff to remind him of home” boy.
Tomorrow’s supposed to be chili-rubbed steak. Fingers crossed.