Don’t call us, we’ll call you

March 1, 2011

Remember that one time I was going to learn how to cook . . .

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 4:00 pm

Yeah . . . that never happened.  When I wrote this post soliciting advice on how to not HATE cooking quite so much, I really intended to put all the advice into practice.  And I did try some of it, but then I got pregnant, and sick, and then sicksick, and then sicksicksick (triple sick — that’s a bad one . . . it means you lose an organ).  And then I had a newborn and . . . well, you know the rest.  So aside from the occasional cookie-in-a-jar recipe, I have not really increased my culinary skills.  Sorry, Dad.

But all of the sudden it hit me: if I can and should take my interests seriously, then surely I should do the same for my disinterests.  They or I deserve as much.  So here I am once again disavowing cooking.  (Truth be told, if I could, I would disavow eating altogether; I love eating a good meal as much as the next person and more than Neal, but at least three times a day every. single. day.  Give me a break.)  And since Neal’s not too keen on doing the cooking either, and since I’m not too keen on the microwave dinners Neal buys to replace us cooking, it’s time for a new plan . . .

Which is where you come in.  We’ve discussed the idea of paying someone to cook for us off and on for a few years.  Of course, the main barrier has always been our frugality, but a close second is: how would we even go about doing it?  Would we pay for the groceries as well as an hourly rate for the cooking?  Or pay by the meal?  And how much would we need to pay (we found some postings on craigslist for these types of arrangements, but no one mentioned the pay, so we don’t even know where to start with that)?  Would we buy the groceries ourselves or would the person doing the cooking buy them?  How many nights per week?  Or should we arrange it on a weekly basis?  Or some people do those big once-a-month extravaganzas and then unfreeze stuff along the way — but does that work with integrating fruits and vegetables?  So many questions . . . so confusing for two culinarily-challenged people to sort out.

So what would you suggest?  Do you know anyone who has been part of an arrangement like this, either the cook or the cooked-for?  How did they do it?  Any and all thoughts welcome . . . except “learn how to cook;” I’ve heard that one before.



  1. We used to have a place here that sold homemade meals. I never purchased one, but thought it was a great idea. Seems like something you would find in your area. Certainly a good business opportunity for someone who doesn’t mind cooking. 🙂 Good luck in your search.

    Comment by Jolene — March 1, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  2. First, I loved your dad’s comment. Second—hmmm. I like Jolene’s comment about being able to buy something home-made when you felt like it. I also thought, you could charge by the project. They could do a bid for the first meal and you could agree on an amount and then if it works out, have them do a bid/proposal on a week’s/or biweekly set of meals. If it works out you can pay for the whole project in a lump sum. That way there is less ability to cheat the system. You’d have to work in a penalty clause if something wasn’t up to snuff. I think it sounds like fun for someone who loves to cook. I would also say that they buy all the groceries which would increase the price because someone who loves to cook, loves to choose their own ingredients. At least that’s what I notice about my mom.

    Comment by Audrey — March 1, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  3. Good questions. Oddly, I was just making pizza and it makes so much I’m sharing 2 of the 3 I’m making with friends who have health concerns, and I was thinking about people who have a hard time cooking for one reason or another and thinking about how much more efficient it is for one person to cook and how I would do it for a friend who needed it on a regular basis for not much at all since I’m cooking anyway. Too bad I’m not your neighbor and we can’t strike up a deal!

    A couple of questions that might help: Are you and Neal ok with eating leftovers for lunches or second dinners? If that’s the case, you probably don’t need a fresh dinner every night, or if you do, that would give you want you need for good lunches. And how often can you handle the same meal in one month? We have some meals we do on an almost weekly basis, but it seems like after a few weeks/months (depending on the meal) of that we have to change them cause it starts to be too much. I think every 2-3 weeks per meal is a more sustainable rotation.

    Honestly, since I make dinner anyway, if it was someone I knew who needed it, I’d be happy cooking for someone else most nights of the week (I don’t cook every night thanks to left overs!) for very little more than the cost of the food since it’s something I’m doing anyway. Maybe the thing to do is find someone who would make the same meal for you they are making for them and you just pay for the cost of all the groceries for the meal? That could still be pretty inexpensive for you and worth it for them. But I really don’t know what is standard. It just seems like if there is someone who doesn’t mind cooking but needs grocery money that could work out well (It could potentially cut their grocery bill by a third with almost no extra work on their part). If you did a situation like this, you’d probably have to come up with a list of meals you both liked (and are willing to purchase ingredients for) and then maybe the person could just choose whatever they want from that list with some kind of agreement about how often meals will be rotated. I don’t know. I just wish we were neighbors so I could do this for you because I totally would!

    Comment by vblanchard — March 1, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  4. I like this idea a lot. I love cooking, and consider myself a good cook, but seriously, sometimes I want to do something else for once, you know? Yes, you do. Anyway, too bad we’re not in UT anymore, otherwise we could totally eat together. I’ve been thinking of setting something up (but with who?) where we eat together (or at least the same thing) 2 nights a week. I cook one, they cook one. It is so much easier to cook a little bit more of what you’re already making than making another meal altogether. So, maybe your solution is leftovers? Like, making a whole box of pasta Monday, and eating it till Wed? Or… some people don’t like leftovers, you know. Maybe you could convince a good cook you know that doesn’t like leftovers to trade you something for their leftovers.

    P.S. ooh, I like that idea vblanchard posted, about meals for grocery money. I bet you could find someone to do it that way!

    Comment by Alysa Stewart — March 1, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  5. Nooooooo! Don’t disavow cooking! Since it is time for a new plan, miraculously, help is on the way! Really. Maybe not like Cat-in-the-Hat’s Thing One and Thing Two, but have you received Pkg#1 and Pkg#2? If not, the latest installment is coming soon (it was sent 2/25/11. Report, please, what day it arrives!)

    Okay, you can disavow cooking now if it gets it off your chest. The thing is, the need for food continues, just like sleep, just like washing hair again, just like brushing and flossing of teeth. Dear me: not 🙂 to tell you this, BUT
    make cooking a partnership effort. You select the recipe, make a grocery list, and ask Neal to shop. Then (not grocery shopping day, but another day), ask if he has 15 min for the recipe you select.

    15 minutes is a plan! Not too bad. Not too sad. Remember substitutions are legal and encouraged. Swapping fresh for canned items is preferable, but the idea is to have something ready in 15 minutes. Now, you may need to read the recipe, and say, “Neal, could you try this recipe tonight?” He needs a direction. If you can do that much, he may comply! Before anything, compile a shopping list, referring back to the envelope in pkg #1. Neal likes to grocery shop, and your shopping list will help, along w/ the contents of the envelope. Have faith; blessings come AFTER the trial of your FAITH.

    Now I know the real challenge will be seeing if you can actually open the two sent books and see them as day-before-using reading. You’ll just need to “man” up to this. YOU CAN DO IT because you are a smart cookie, and because prepared food is the goal. And because the Lindsay I know is an organized powerhouse who can “git-er-done.”

    Example: If you feel especially energetic one night, thaw frozen hamburger by evening, and sweetly ask, “Neal, will you mind browning this ground beef with onion and green pepper tonight, and putting it in the fridge?” Next day when he comes home from class, say sweetly, “Neal, would you mind making a salad & setting the table while I boil this pasta?” He will be soooo amazed, he will agree! Then eat the salad (or slice and eat a grapefruit) while the pasta boils. By the time you finish this first course, drain the pasta, and you can arrange a plate of pasta, meat, top w/ sauce and cheese, & nuke each plate for a minute or so. Enjoy!

    This is one example of a fast meal to eat, but it takes YOU to preplan, even if you are not the one cooking. Questions? Just ask me. I’ll take you one meal at a time. You have to be willing to read a few recipes, however. Deal? Look at the pretty photos; it isn’t all bad. Ohhh, you are so clever despite disavowing cooking. The Cat-in-the-Hat Comes Back….

    Comment by Lorie Call — March 4, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  6. my chef friend is offering an expensive option where she teaches you to cook and you just pay a monthly price and then all the food is covered in that, but it’s only for a meal once a week and it’s $$$ like I said.

    What about you taking cooking lessons from me and once a week we make a meal that feeds both our families. On that day we can also go over a menu for the week (that always helps me) and even do the grocery shopping together. Remember my post on food budget? It would be fun too!!

    Comment by carissa — March 4, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  7. I’ll even make you a deal…I’m happy to help you pro bono while we live in Provo still (until May:))

    Comment by carissa — March 4, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

  8. Carissa’s offer is a bargain!

    Comment by Lorie Call — March 5, 2011 @ 12:58 am

  9. Ok, so you know I love to cook, but I’ve found that working AND going to school keeps me from cooking as much as I want (which is 3 hours a day to linger over slicing, and tasting, and browning, etc…). So, I don’t have enough time. And, if I was close enough to you to make this reasonable, you would end up with a dairy-free, meat-free, aspartame-free, etc… meal plan. Boring, right?

    What has helped me this semester is a little red rice cooker:

    Two scoops of dry rice, four scoops of water, maybe a little oil (sesame, olive oil, vegan butter) depending what continent I feel like, and I “fogeddaboudit” for 20-25 minutes. Then, I have a meal. Sort of. But it’s a good back up when you don’t wanna, or don’t have time to really cook. I think Neal could dig this one.

    This doesn’t solve your chef solution, but it’s a stop-gap.

    Comment by Robin-Elise Call — March 16, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

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