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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Looking for Solutions

I’ve discovered that parenting and providing for adult children isn’t that easy. I no longer know when they will be home or where they are going. Not that I mind, as I’m happy they have plenty of friends and a busy social life. However, I still have to do the food shopping and prepare meals. Nowadays it’s not unusual for those meals to remain uneaten and, once their refrigerated life has ended, to be thrown out. Of course I do freeze portions and one of us takes them to work for lunch, but there is just so much sausage casserole or pasta bake that I can eat over and over again!

I hate waste and I especially hate seeing food that I’ve taken care in preparing later thrown into the garbage. So what do I do? My sons don’t live to any form of schedule or planned existence. Their friendships are based on impulsive meet ups and spur of the moment decisions. So when I ask them in the morning if they will be home for dinner they can’t give me a definitive answer. As my middle son has told me “I can’t tell you I’ll be home because if I decide to go out later you will be mad at me and I can’t tell you I’ll be out because if I stay home you won’t have enough dinner for me.”

The other day I called a family meeting to discuss this problem. We brainstormed for a few minutes, middle son suggested freezing all the meat in portions so that we can all take out what we want for dinner and cook it ourselves. It isn’t such a bad proposal, but it means I have to get out of the frame of mind of cooking for the family and that is difficult for me. Portions might be the way to go, but what if I’m cooking a casserole or pasta? Youngest son just suggested stocking the freezer with chicken schnitzels as they are his favorite right now.

Today, for example, it is nearly 3pm and I still haven’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner tonight. I would like to have steak tonight, but the three steaks I have are all frozen together so I would have to take them all out if I want them for dinner. Yes, I know I should have frozen them separately, but I wasn’t thinking of solutions then. My youngest son is home at the moment but that could change at any time. My middle son is still not home after going to a 21st birthday party last night and I have no idea when he plans to return. So here I sit and wonder whether to take the meat out or leave it in the freezer. It’s a problem that will be on my mind until its time to cook and there is nothing defrosted.

Yes, I do have a microwave but I haven’t yet learnt how to defrost accurately. Nine times out of ten if I’m defrosting steak or chops they end up slightly cooked around the edges and I’m left unhappy. I do defrost some things, just not everything.

So what to do? I would be more than happy to listen to all solutions. Perhaps some of you have already been down this road and would like to share your experiences?


  1. I would do the divide the meat when you bring it home from the store. My mother got into that habit in the last few years since my sister moved out, and mom lives alone now.
    It really is the easiest way to do it in the long run. After about a month, you should be in the grove with cooking smaller meals.
    I don't have a microwave and cook/defrost everything with a regular stove, so I know how long that can take.

  2. I hate defrosting meat in the microwave too. My better-half travels a lot so quite often I need to make smaller meals for me and my daughter (it's like cooking for 1 1/2 people due to her being 6 and not wanting as much food as me). When he's away I just buy the basics that I will need right away. I also do what Domestic does and I portion out my meat etc. and freeze it. I also like to do croc-pot meals. Pasta sauce can be made and frozen. It's always easy to just boil the pasta noodles and toss a small salad.

  3. I'd be of no help to you, Cassandra. Both my kids are moved out and I still haven't figured out how to cook for two.
    So I take what I make and freeze some for the girls in single servings. At times they fill their freezers lol.

    You and I are different in that I think I wasn't as nice as you when they were home. If they couldn't give me a straight up answer as to wether or not they'd be home for supper, it would be a toast night for them.
    They learned right quick to give me a definite. If they were not going to be home, I would get a call mid afternoon. Enough time to change the amounts.

    Not much help to you I know. But I am copping to being much 'meaner' than you lol

  4. It sounds like the emotional challenges of this time are probably more difficult than the practical ones. How bittersweet for you, as a mom, to not have your kids rushing to the dinner table for meals you've prepared. I'm sorry, and I'm wishing I was there to rush over for your cooking.

  5. I'm a veggie, but I find that it is easier for me to prepare small meals for myself then freeze them. I also weigh out portions of food that are left-overs, seal and date them before freezing too.
    I'm food phobic and can only eat small amounts, but that is a remnant from being anorexic, so these suggestions may help you especially with small children.

  6. Storing in individual portions would cut out some wasting of food. Or you could prepare enough for two so that you don't have as much leftovers. Sticking as close to a schedule as possible would help - if the boys can do such a thing. :D

  7. I had the same problem with my girls that you are having. I would cook and no one would be there and then when I didn't everyone was there wanting to eat. I think finally I would just cook enough for 4 and if they were there and wanted it fine. Someone would eat it the next day for lunch or supper.

  8. I have the same problem with Sheldon. I usually try and keep a few quick things to make at the last moment. But mostly, I tell her she's on her own.

  9. Urgh! This sounds familiar. My kids are 12 and 15, so it shouldn't be the case yet, but on weekends, at least, my daughter is very hard to plan for. She plans on community college after high school, so I'm sure this will only get worse.

    Hubby is our main cook and requires a call by a certain point, but there are a lot of things for which that isn't enough planning.

    One trick on thawing meats (it is best for chicken, but can work on steak in a pinch) put it in a bowl and run cold water at a trickle until it thaws (the running part keeps it from sitting in the bowl with its bacteria)--we used to use this in the restaurant bus if we went through more than we planned.--but yes, invest in freezer containers for portions of the casserole after its made, too.

  10. Well, good for you for calling that meeting. Living with adult kids really does throw a wrench in meal planning.

  11. I am sorry I do not have good advice. But, I DO have an award for you at my site!

  12. If you love cooking, which I think you do, make the meal and if they come they come and if they don't they can heat it in the microwave.

    I'd let them get their own meals on occasion as well. They'll have to get the hang of that pretty soon as it is.

    It will be nice for boys to know how to cook!

  13. Besides hating waste, I don't enjoy cooking and no one showing up to eat it.....I don't cook just to have something to do/ha
    It seems like when they get that age, they are pretty flexible about meals. Like if you don't have one prepared when they show up, they'll get in the refrigerator and come up with something. I think I worried about it probably much more than the kids did.
    At any rate....Good Luck!

  14. Thank you all for your suggestions and I'm taking them on board. I've started portioning the meat in the freezer and I'm freezing leftovers for later on. Tonight I'm making a lasagna which I can cut into portions and freeze for lunches etc.
    Kristy thank you so much for the award!