The following was written for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at TheForum@Fatherly.com.
Up until 3 months ago, I saw the supermarket as a place to get party supplies: beer, chips, ice and maybe salsa. No one ever taught me to how to shop for groceries, let alone cook. In fact, for the entirety of my 20s, the extent of my cooking abilities had been avocado toast for breakfast and Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner.
Then I became a dad to one miss Cleo James. Having a newborn at home, I’m spending a lot more time around the house. Coupled with the jaw-dropping costs of having a kid, we all know how expensive ordering in can be, so I finally bit the bullet and decided it was time to learn how to feed myself and my family.
Join me on my journey with some foolproof recipes below
Things I Knew I Didn’t Know
I didn’t know how grocery shop. I didn’t know how to buy the right amount of ingredients — usually I’d overbuy and stuff would sit unused, go bad and I’d have to throw it out. I didn’t know how to cook.
The Main Problem
Here’s the first problem: I really hate supermarkets. Anytime I go to the supermarket to shop for food, the second I cross through the doors I’m either immediately starving and grumpy, or suddenly have to take a huge shit. I also never remember to get a cart at the door, so I always end up filling my arms with stuff, then looking around for an empty cart to steal from an employee or shopper, only to get discouraged and leave with a bunch of bananas and some milk.
Grocery Store 101
So my first piece of advice, plan ahead: Have a snack and use the bathroom before you go. My second tip is to decide what you want before you go in because nothing will paralyze you more than standing at the end of the aisle without an idea of what you’re looking for. Thirdly, get a basket or a cart. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Okay, What Do You Buy Tho?
I’m certainly no pro but here’s what I found is successful in terms of shopping for me. Obviously, frozen vegetables are great because they last forever. You throw frozen veggies in a pan with a tiny bit of water. minimal and quick. Ditto for frozen meatballs, frozen sausage, frozen… well you get the idea.
In terms of cooking, I’ve included some of my favorite recipes below, but my big picture advice is to pay attention to how much you’re eating so you know how much you need when you go back to the market. How many servings is a small bag of frozen veggies? How many salads can you get out of that one plastic tub of pre-washed spinach? Did you use all the avocados you bought before some went bad?
Admit You Have A Lot To Learn
Now that I’ve begun cooking, my next challenge will be to start thinking of a balanced diet. With a family to feed, it’s important that I familiarize myself with recipes to keep everyone happy. I have my own weird diet which is sort of vegetarian but there are some great easy recipes for frozen chicken breasts and fish dishes I’d like to try.
Look, I was really intimidated by the idea of cooking for my family. It turns out it’s not as huge of a chore as I thought. Let’s be real unless you love food and you’re a chef, it’s may never be fun, but it doesn’t have to be awful.
You read this article, you took the first step. In addition to you now helping feed your family, you will no longer be an unhealthy dad. Say goodbye to your pop tarts and pizza.
Avocado toast with fried egg. Tip: toast the bread last because it only takes a minute or 2. Start with 2 eggs in the pan with olive oil. Then while the eggs are frying, slice open your avocado (a small avocado is perfect for 2 well-adorned pieces of toast), smoosh the avocado with a fork onto your toast, if the eggs are done leave them in the pan with the heat off, add salt and pepper, slide the eggs on there, and you’re good to go.
Or if you don’t have much time, try a bowl with half cheerios and half granola, a sliced banana, some agave, add almond, soy, or rice milk, and enjoy. Delicious!
For a super easy, fresh salad, buy the pre-rinsed plastic box of baby spinach (a great cheat since you don’t need to do anything to it), add tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. It’s so simple, just slice the toppings and add lemon as dressing.
Cheese and crackers is a great simple but substantial snack. Or baby carrots and hummus is always easy and delicious.
For entrees, I’ve been big on pasta, veggies, and sweet potatoes. You can throw a sweet potato in the microwave for 12 minutes and they’re delicious. They don’t need anything except some salt and pepper if you want.
I love fruit. Get bananas, pears, apples, whatever is in season. If you aren’t eating them as quickly as you thought, slice them up to make a fruit bowl and stick it in the fridge — it will get eaten! Works for dessert add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or yogurt for breakfast.