Woman with empty plate at wooden table, top view

When my husband asked me what was for dinner last night, I wondered how many times in one day those three precious (evil) words are spoken. Worldwide, might these words be recited over a billion times? And in my own life, how many times have I heard children, grandkids and husbands innocently (and hopefully) question what will soon be served.  It’s not that I don’t like cooking — I actually love it! — but there are days when that drudgery of mixing, beating, dipping, tossing, frying, baking, boiling or simmering just seems like another exercise that I have repeated too many times. The truth is that I have no idea what to make for dinner some nights!

Psychologists claim that doing routine chores creates “comforting habits” that serve as anchors in our turbulent lives. The habits we repeat offer us some sort of reassurance that life is still going along in a steady manner, even if stress, a pandemic or conflicts exist. There’s nothing like baking a chicken to provide a sense of routine and normality into our busy lives. Ha! Well, I don’t have to believe it just because a psychologist says it. Some days are the “wrong days” to be doing routine chores. And aren’t “anchors” those heavy weights that drag us down?

My friend Marsha sat down and started figuring out the number of meals she has cooked in her lifetime. With a calculator in hand, the final numbers were staggering! Then she suggested that I do the same so I could “take an inventory” of how I have spent my life. Yikes, I refuse to do this! Dear readers, stay strong and do not count the number of tedious tasks that you do, because it might not paint a pretty picture. In fact, it is a terrifying thought!

So, back to that simple (and frequent) question that my husband posed, “What’s for dinner?” Today, I am throwing in the towel, letting the pots and pans sit silently, allowing the spices and sauces to rest idly in their allotted corners, waiting to ambush me tomorrow, no doubt. Today, I am liberating myself from the mundane task of cooking, seeking greater fulfillment in some other activity. (Not sure yet what that might be).

When I told Doug that I did not feel like cooking tonight, he just stared at me like I have two heads. Inquiring if I was ill (no) and looking confused, he then wondered if I wanted to go out to dinner (not really). He looked confused. In other words, the wheels have fallen off the chuckwagon! Mercury must be in retrograde and casting a dark shadow on the planet (and in my kitchen)! Life as we know it must be in jeopardy! Why? Because the one question asked billions of times a day and in hundreds of different languages cannot always be answered!

So when you hear those three little words — “What’s for dinner?” — try answering with my three little words: “I don’t know!” Tomorrow is another day to explore the joys of cooking. Until then, bon appétit.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.