Because my two sisters, Cathy, Nancy, and I are very close, we share many things: advice on the best hair cut to fit the shape of our face, which plants are the easiest to grow (even giving each other cuttings) and easy-to-cook recipes.
There are many other things we share, but recently each sister told me on separate occasions that when they go out of town for a few days, they prepare meals for their hubbies and freeze them.
Maybe they’ve told me this for thirty plus years and it just didn’t sink in, but I’ve never done that.
However, when I began making plans for an eight day trip to Nashville and Raleigh, I made similar plans for my family.
I decided that I too, could be Suzy Homemaker, and make sure Russell and Katie, (who’s temporarily living at home, finishing up nursing school in May) and Michael, Katie’s fiance, would have some delicious, easy-to-prepare meals.
I had a couple of things already in the freezer, but shopped for what was still needed. I came home and chopped, sliced, diced, sauteed, stirred, whipped, refrigerated, layered and baked many, many dishes.
Then I froze it all in individual containers with easy-to-read directions.
I wanted to be sure all of my hard work paid off and that they ate well while I was away.
(In fact, as it turned out, I’ve never eaten better meals in my life than I did that week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort — dining on lobster rolls, prime rib, sushi, Mexican, barbecue, catfish and fried chicken. And yes, I felt a teeny-weeny bit guilty.)
But before I went away, I took out some sticky notes and labeled each container: “Home-made stuffed peppers. Thaw 1 hour and cook at 350 covered.”
(Geez, I forgot to say how long; but I figured they’d know when it was good and hot from the steam.)
For the Stouffer’s lasagna, I wrote on the note, “Read directions.”
For the next one, I wrote, “Italian Sausage. Cook 350, covered in aluminum foil, 30-40 minutes.”
(I forgot to tell them to remove the aluminum foil the last 10 minutes so the sausage would brown.)
I labeled the next one “Home-made ham and vegetable soup. Thaw and heat.”
Finally, I labeled the last one “Home-made spaghetti sauce. Add noodles.”
I was so proud of ME! I’m usually not this organized, thoughtful or well-prepared, but I DID IT!
I told both of them before I left how simple it would be to eat at home while I was gone, enjoying healthy meals and also saving money.
The second night away I called and asked how they’d enjoyed their meals so far. Katie confessed: they hadn’t.
“Well, why not?” I asked. She informed me that the container labeled spaghetti was actually soup.
In the meantime, she had already cooked the noodles when she discovered the error.
So, as it turned out, Michael (who is a great chef, by the way) went out and bought the ingredients to make his own spaghetti sauce.
I’m sure they ate quite late, but no one complained to me about it.
And the soup ended up making a fine meal for Gus, their 70 lb., 3-year old pup.
Evidently, Russell and Katie gave up on my handy-dandy, easy-as-pie, self-directed meal plan (or so I THOUGHT it was all that) because after that one night, they either went out to dinner; or one occasion, Russell made himself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I’d like to think what really happened was they just missed having me in the kitchen, puttering about in my apron, doing the June Cleaver thing, “How was your day?” as I merrily set the table and gave everyone a huge smile.
But the truth is, I believe they were afraid to try anything else for fear of WHAT truly lurked inside the containers.
And to think Russell is always saying, “No good deed ever goes unpunished.” Now I know it’s true!
But, that’s actually fine with me because now I have almost a week’s worth of dinners to cook on a moment’s notice.
Can’t say I didn’t try!