The night before Stretch left, I made a "real" meal. We had steaks and I remarked that it would probably be the last time I cooked until next month. A few days later, he asked what we were having for dinner. By then, we'd had leftovers and pizza and I was considering takeout and pancakes as options. He laughed. He brought up what I'd said about not cooking while he's gone. Did he think I was kidding?
The problem with cooking is that the kids almost never appreciate it. Yes, there are occasional meals and certain dishes that they really enjoy. But I don't want to spend the time and effort to make a nice dinner, clean it all up, and have 2 kids not eat it or have to spend the entire meal saying, "Take a bite." It's just too frustrating. When Stretch was gone for the year, I cooked "real" dinners 2 or 3 times a week. But he's only gone a few weeks this time. So I'm making the executive decision to give myself a break. Over the weekend, I ordered Chinese takeout. Big Sis turned her nose up at it (except the rice, she took half the rice). But L'il Sis tried the egg drop soup and LOVED it. The next night she asked if we could have Chinese food again.
Besides, there are a lot of meals that don't require "real" cooking. Last night we had pancakes. Made from a mix. I don't consider this cooking. But L'il Sis was delighted. Tonight I threw some canned rolls into the oven and emptied a frozen meal in a bag into a skillet. Again, I don't consider this cooking. It's more heating. We'd had this particular meal once before while Stretch was still home. L'il Sis greeted the pasta dish with this: "Dee-licious! I can't stop eating it!" Considering the usual response that I get from her ("Yuck! I'm not eating THAT!"), it's not inspiring me to actually do much "real" cooking this month.