As a father of two and husband of a wife who works more hours than I do, I do a lot of the cooking for our family. It took a while for me to learn that dads can cook too. We previously used fast food drive throughs quite a lot but we have been working on keeping a much stricter budget. The monetary considerations combined with the fact that eating out was not very healthy convinced me that I need to figure this out. I found that the key for me is to keep things simple. If a recipe is complicated or takes too much time to make, it simply won’t work for our family.
Time is Precious
On any given day, there is a finite amount of time for you to do all the things that need doing, including feeding the family. Ideally, I like to use recipes that take an hour or less of my time.
Although there are some recipes I use that may take hours to cook, the prep for these recipes is easy and takes very little time. For recipes of this kind, the cooking time is mostly hands off and I can work on other things (cleaning, homework, playing with the kids, etc…)
Less is More
When I started doing the cooking for our family, I quickly found out that there are many distractions while trying to prepare a meal. It seems like the minute we start cooking, we are met with a barrage of distractions: breaking up arguments, kids wanting to show us a new magic trick, kids asking for help with spelling or math. These distractions seem endless and can make it pretty easy to make a mistake while cooking.
I have found that simple recipes minimize the opportunities for me to make a mistake. I like to use recipes that have a fairly short list of ingredients and that do not involve too many complicated procedures. After some trial and error, I learned that the more complicated a recipe is, the more likely I am to make a mistake, measure incorrectly, or skip a step.
A recipe doesn’t need to have a long list of ingredients to be delicious. For my families taste, simple is almost always better. When I have made recipes that use many different ingredients, the payoff simply hasn’t been there. It’s easy to think “more ingredients must mean more flavor” but that isn’t always the case. The flavors can easily get lost in each other.
Dads can cook too, but let’s face it, we hate following directions. The stereotypes are true. We try to do things on our own and then only look at the directions if we run into a problem. This simply doesn’t work for cooking. For this reason, I like to use recipes that don’t have a lot of steps or difficult procedures.
The list of available kitchen gadgets and tool is endless. Late night commercials, internet ads, vlogs and unboxing videos can convince you that you need all of them. The truth is that you really only need a few things to be successful in the kitchen and prove that dads can cook too. I have a few “go to” items that are used often. The tools that you use may be different from mine. The key is to figure out which tools you enjoy using the most and then plan your menus around them. I will discuss a few of my favorites below.
By far, my favorite cooking implement is my cast iron skillet and you will most likely be seeing more discussion on this site about it. There is a bit of a learning curve but once you have mastered cleaning and seasoning cast iron pans, you will find that they are very enjoyable to cook with. There are a few things that I really like about cooking with cast iron:
- I feel manly when I use it. It takes my mind back to the pioneers and cooking on the trail.
- It is very durable. My mom still uses a cast iron pan that she inherited and is somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 years old
- It is easy to clean once you have learned how
- It helps with iron intake. It naturally infuses iron into your food
- They can be used on the stove top or in the oven
Another gadget that I like to use is the Instant Pot. Despite what YouTube and recipe blogs might lead you to believe, this device isn’t just for ladies! It can perform many different functions but the main function that I use is that of the pressure cooker. One of the things that I enjoy the most about the Instant Pot is that it is very easy to find recipes. Due to their popularity, there are many blogs, recipe sites and videos, that contain nearly endless ideas for using this gadget. When I first started doing a lot of cooking, this was one of the first things I learned to use. Most Instant Pot recipes are very forgiving and even if you make a mistake, your meal will still taste amazing.
The last gadget I will discuss here is the Crock Pot. This slow cooker is such a huge time saver and is easy to use. It is so easy to just throw in a few ingredients in the morning and then go about my day until dinner time. One of my favorite things to make in the Crock Pot is chili. It is simple to make, tastes amazing and the flavors blend perfectly.
Pot roast comes out tender and juicy.
Keep to the Basics
By following the concepts outlined above and keeping things simple, I think you will find that your frustrations around cooking will be greatly reduced. You will have more time to spend on other projects, your family will be well-fed and your budget will be in better shape. I hope this article helps you and remember, dads can cook too!