OK, I Lied: It Sucks To Cook After Work

July 10, 2015 | By | COMMENTS

Remember that time that I was a full-time food blogger? And I had the nerve to say things like: “You can cook after work! It’s easy.” Well I’d like to take that person, pin him against a wall, and say: “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Because now that I have a full-time job, I come home happily exhausted (I love where I’m working) and the idea of making a big mess in the kitchen at 6:45 PM (when I get home) and then cleaning it up holds very little appeal to me on a weekday night. So the picture you see above is my saving grace: Dune Falafel is on the other side of Atwater Village from me, so my new favorite thing is to come home, give the cat some treats, and to go for a 20 minute walk along GlenFeliz Blvd to procure the hummus plate you see above (it really is the most dazzling hummus plate I’ve ever experienced). And then, every so often, I do manage to make a dinner.

As a person who defaulted to pasta even before I had a real job, now pasta is pretty much the only thing I want to make when I make anything at all. My first week of work, back in June, involved this penne with raw tomatoes, garlic, basil, and Parmesan—a good summery dish:

Then there was this pasta I made with broccoli, zucchini, and lots of olive oil and garlic and a little lemon juice at the end:

One Sunday, I decided to make some food for the week ahead. So here’s an improvised coleslaw that held up pretty well (with cabbage, carrots, radishes, etc):

Oh and some braised chicken thighs with Peppadews:

Don’t get too impressed, though: these mostly happened my first few weeks of working. Now I’m more likely to bake something to bring into work than I am to make myself dinner. For example, these Smitten Kitchen Oatmeal Raisin Cookies which my co-workers gobbled up pretty quickly.

I also made a killer coffee cake, but maybe I’ll write about that in another post (yes, I’ll try to keep writing posts. Stop yelling at me!)

Things may change dramatically when Craig gets home from shooting his next movie at the start of August. After all, it’s very different to cook just for yourself after work than it is to cook for someone who really appreciates it (and who’ll be forced to do the dishes).

But I owe a huge apology to all of you hard-working people who I’ve shamed over the years for not lifting a spoon after 9 hours of sitting behind a computer. Trust me, now: I get it.

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Categories: Food Bits

  • Meghanssj

    It will get easier when your hubby is home. Ha ha, that is a lie too. I feel good if I cook about half the time and bring a homemade lunch to work 4 out of 5 days (I also pack one for my husband). Then, the going out is a sanity saver. I wish I could walk to a hummus plate like that one!

  • mimi

    Haha. Vindication!!!

  • Marcy

    This is precisely why I shifted my work hours to 7-4 (which I realize you can’t do). Getting home at 6:30, cooking, eating, and cleaning up meant that I was basically having one hour of evening in which to relax before going to bed. It made me resentful of the others in the house who got to relax from the moment they got home. I realized I’d rather start my day earlier and have that extra time at the end of it so I could enjoy cooking.

  • Kim W

    Speaking as another day-job-haver-and-wants-to-cook-er:

    What has saved my ass is pre-making some things on the weekends – a couple big batches of soup or big hearty salads (grain or bean salads) – and stashing them in the fridge. Then, on nights you feel like cooking after work, one of those salads can be the side dish to some kind of simple roast meat thing (I do a lot of roast chicken legs as my meat course), and on nights you simply just can’t, then dinner becomes “pick two bowls from the fridge and scoop something out of them, done”.

    Those soups and salads also make for good brown-bag lunch options too.

  • NSU

    I work full time and love to cook. I had to get super efficient after we had a child. My tricks are:
    Plan meals in advance: decision fatigue sets in real big after a long day at work; we tend to have the same things on the same days (i.e. Tuesday = eggs + veggie) but with room for creativity/variety (diff veggie every week depending on what’s good)
    Shop in advance– who has time or the desire to shop on the way home? not me!
    Make as much as possible on Sunday (veggie prep, I soft boil (sous vide) eggs that reheat in warm water, make condiments i.e mayo; and a big batch of dessert);
    Make one-pan meals that pop in the oven (our go-to are spatch cocked chicken OR sausages over greens, all salted and with a scoop of bacon fat and cube of frozen chicken stock–bake at 350-450 (depending…) while I spend time with the kid and hubby.
    Hope this helps!

  • NSU

    I work full time and love to cook. I had to get super efficient after we had a child. My tricks are:
    Plan meals in advance: decision fatigue sets in real big after a long day at work; we tend to have the same things on the same days (i.e. Tuesday = eggs + veggie) but with room for creativity/variety (diff veggie every week depending on what’s good)
    Shop in advance– who has time or the desire to shop on the way home? not me!
    Make as much as possible on Sunday (veggie prep, I soft boil (sous vide) eggs that reheat in warm water, make condiments i.e mayo; and a big batch of dessert);
    Make one-pan meals that pop in the oven (our go-to are spatch cocked chicken OR sausages over greens, all salted and with a scoop of bacon fat and cube of frozen chicken stock–bake at 350-450 (depending…) while I spend time with the kid and hubby.
    Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    You are not the only one. Jamie Oliver did a bit where you can cook a dinner as cheaply and as quickly as buying a frozen dinner. Like many things Oliver does (who I -used- to respect immensely from his Naked Chef shows) – it completely ignores reality. You have to deal with planning, shopping, and dealing with dirty dishes. And after a 10 hour day (which doesn’t include working out and occasionally talking to your partner ) thats simply not feasible.

  • Alcubierre Visitor

    Teach Craig to cook!

  • Agent Strong

    I cook at home every night for me and my husband. You just have to adapt to a weeknight style. Certain cooking methods are faster: pressure cooking, broiling, skillet dinners, some baking. Some foods cook faster: fish, chicken pieces, veal scallops, pork chops, beef steaks. One pot/pan meals are great, minimal cleanup. I highly recommend these books:

    1) One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder
    2) Home Bistro by Betty Fussell
    3) Martha Stewart One Pot Meals
    4) Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert
    5) The Pressured Cook by Lorna Sass
    6) 60 Minute Gourmet (2 volumes) by Pierre Franey (old-fashioned, but full of great ideas and recipes)

    Hope that helps.

  • Kate H

    Second the suggestion for pre-making stuff on the weekend and NSU’s suggestion below for planning ahead. I spend a few minutes Sat morning thinking about what I feel like making and what ingredients need using up. From there I shop and cook a biggish meal on Sat or Sun that will take me through Wed or Thurs with leftovers and maybe some lunches, and then make something simpler toward the end of the week that will use up perishables and get me through the next couple nights, like pesto up leftover cilantro and parsley and throw over pasta, etc.

  • WendyR

    I totally get it. When I have to work a long day, it usually means either my husband or I will get take-out. Sometimes, though, I have the energy and forethought to put my slow cooker to work. It’s nice to come home to some stew that just needs some bread alongside or some chicken burritos that just need fixings.

  • Kate Broad

    Apology accepted! Now blog more, already! ;D

  • Kate Broad

    I’m being facetious. I feel your pain. Try and get into the habit of prep-cooking on Sundays. Make a pot of soup or beans, precook some pasta so you can throw that into a quick sauce. And if you just CAN’T cook, don’t feel like a horrible person for getting take-away; you’ve completely turned your life and routine upside down! Someone once told me it takes AT LEAST 6 months to get used to a new job. Be gentle with yourself.

  • Mellifluous

    Some days I don’t mind cooking after work but most of the time it’s like “ugh sh*t.I have to cook something I guess.” So far I’m cooking 6 out of 7 nights a week bc we’re trying to eat healthy and save some money.
    Quick meals are my friend. Lots of salads in the summer and big batch soups,chili,and such during the winter.

  • cheermaster

    @changetip:disqus couldn’t agree more. Who has time? Ramen is my best friend lol @mellifluous33:disqus

  • Anna B.

    My husband was away for 3 months last summer, and I had GRAND PLANS of cooking all of the food for myself that he doesn’t like. By the end of it, I was living on scrambled eggs and KIND bars.

  • Alcubierre Visitor

    Hmmm. I haven’t seen much posted from you lately. Well, I loved your blog, but does this mean I should delete your blog from my home page because you are not posting any longer? I hope not, because, literally, you taught me how to cook. You inspired me to just follow your clearly stated and delicious recipes. Anyway, I can understand that if you sit in a boiler room all day at work thinking of stuff to write that you would not want to do that when you get home. At least I have your wonderful cookbook!!!

  • Phoeff

    Sadly I agree. I don’t do facebook or twitter, so I guess it’s goodbye.

  • Nancy Ewart

    He’s apparently not on Facebook or Twitter either. I’m saving the link because of the wonderful recipes. Glad that it went out on a high note with his wedding but I already know how difficult it is to cook when you have a full time job AND a household to manage.

  • http://www.pillenpalast.com/ Andre Ank

    It made me angry of the others in the house who got the chance to unwind from the minute they returned home. I understood I’d rather begin my day prior and have that additional time toward the end of it so I could appreciate cooking.

  • obey

    Why aren’t the recipes on here omggg.

  • Manuela Heitmann

    Love it!

  • Manuela Heitmann

    Love it!!

  • http://www.espressotune.com/ Kristina Wilson

    This pasta is Fabulous, I really liked. I will add this pasta into my weekly meal plan.

  • HOMEMADE JUNCTION

    loved it..

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