It’s not that my husband and I don’t enjoy cooking. We have a collection of favourite recipe books—the worn copy of the More with Less Cookbook that we packed back and forth to Africa and Hungary, my Hull Christian School Society Cookbook from Iowa (Snicker Salad, anyone?), a binder of recipes from both the Schut and Vande Griend sides of our families, and a stash of free Kraft magazines with pretty pictures and recipes that contain fairly normal ingredients.

But from September to June, other than weekends and holidays, those recipe books don’t see the light of day very often. By the time we all get home from school, unpack backpacks, practice piano and do homework, squeeze in a walk if it isn’t raining, and make sure that we are ready for the activities of the evening or the next day, we are not likely to have the energy for putting together much more than pancakes, fish sticks and French fries, or warming up some pizza leftovers from Pizza Wednesdays at the middle school.

Dinnertime is important. We know about the studies, books, and websites extolling the wonders of family dinner hour. We’re trying to teach our daughters about healthy eating and cooking, about growing at least some of our own food out in our garden, about shopping for food in a way that is sustainable, stewardly, and economical. We’re trying to make sure that we have that time over dinner to just be together as a family—praying, talking, laughing, and making memories, examining our broccoli for fractal patterns or discussing the events that led to the beginning of World War I (that happens at other people’s houses too, right?). 

We’re trying not to compare ourselves to the people who seem to make it so easy—those people who manage to put a creative, healthy meal on the table each night—something like “Roasted Chicken stuffed with Arugula, Beets and Polenta.” 

But since that’s not likely to be us anytime soon—we’ll be sticking with roasted chicken dinners from the grocery store!