Generally, when your husband says, “Can you cook tonight?” and you have had the week from hell and not been home once before 7 pm in like 10 days and you are so tired you could weep, you are allowed to say, “Unequivocally, hellz no.” However, on the off chance that you are feeling magnanimous and/or guilty, and you do decide to cook, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Make a list before you go to the grocery store. Assume nothing. I guarantee that if you think you have eggs or butter or cheese, you don’t. Just buy it. (Of course, that’s how I ended up with 8 bottles of soy sauce in my fridge, but it’s saved me 7 trips to the grocery store, so it evens out, right?)
2. It never hurts to buy food for more than one meal at a time. Just go ahead and assume that you will be cooking more than once this week, even if it seems a little out of reach and you have an Arby’s coupon that’s burning a hole in your pocket. You can do this.
3. The total amount on your receipt is not as bad as it seems. I mean, you’re buying the whole bottle of soy sauce, and you won’t use it all for this one meal, so really you can spread the cost out over a few weeks… Yeah, don’t re-read step 1 at this point because you’ll just get depressed.
4. Once you actually start cooking, guess-work will get you nowhere. I know you think that the recipe has a typo or that you know how to do it better/faster/tastier, but you don’t, she-who-only-cooks-when-her-husband-guilts-her-into-it. Follow the recipe to the letter, or face the consequences. (Consequences may include burned items: food, fingers, pans, kitchens, etc.; food that is so salty you have to chase it with 4 or 5 glasses of wine– that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it; bread that either sticks to the pan completely or never finishes cooking– I call that one Bread Soup and it’s a delicacy at our house.)
5. If you’re having a side dish with your main dish, just give up on it being done at the same time. Call it an appetizer or something. No one will be the wiser.
6. Make sure your husband knows what effort you went to. If he doesn’t thank you profusely enough, it is your right never to cook again. Look it up. It’s true.