Ask Mary, blog, Cooking with Mary stories and tips

Cooking with a child on my hip

Sharing this post from a few years ago….

Los Angeles, Ca,- there are glamorous parts about cooking professionally (i.e. a chef), but plenty of unglamorous, down right, no fun parts as well. I love cooking for my kids, don’t get me wrong, but some days are harder to cook for them than others.

There’s so much information on the Internet about eating organically, watching out for food colors, should you be drinking milk, are your kids gluten free, etc., etc. The list goes on and on just getting food on the table 3 times a day every day without all those extra questions is hard enough.

no make up

no make up

Even though I cook for a living, it can sometimes be just as hard and overwhelming as if I didn’t cook for a living. I am no exception to the rule. The only advantage is that I rarely have to look up a recipe in order to make something and I live and breathe the idea of giving my family a balanced life, which takes a lot of pressure off of me.

What is a balanced life? Well, in the mornings if my kids have had scrambled eggs or oatmeal, fruit and waffle or toast, I’m happy. So, the odds are, if they ask me for a cookie and it’s after 9am I’m probably going to give them one. Crazy, right? I pick my food battles and a cookie after a well-balanced meal isn’t going to be one of them.

Here are my hard parts:

  • No child of mine wants to eat what I cook (seriously this happens) without an argument.
  • No time to shop for the ingredients I need to make what I really want to eat. This happens regularly because of naps, illnesses or just not having enough hours in my day.
  • Just when I go to grab the meat, chicken or fish out of the bottom drawer of my refrigerator for the meal I had planned I realize my refrigerator has frozen the food…again. (My refrigerator is old and broken and freezes everything in the bottom drawer. I have a two day window to move my foods without being frozen, which allows us time to eat food that is crowding the fridge to make room for those large proteins).
  • Week day meals tend to be boring because it’s just me during the week. And as much as I love cooking an elaborate meal with a child on my hip and one attached to my leg, it really get’s challenging if I’m cooking anything hot; oh wait, that’s almost everything.
  • Buying groceries costs money…did you know this? Confession, I’m not a coupon shopper. My hat is off to all of you who can shop deals, clip and save, etc., however, that’s not me. Number one reason- I like to buy what looks good and usually it’s not on sale and, as a rule, I’m not usually a fan of processed foods. Thus buying food for a family of four get’s expensive and just keeping enough for everyone to eat sometimes cuts into extravagant gourmet dinners.

Here are my good parts:

  • When I plan for one day a week the meal that everyone loves (shhh, it’s boxed macaroni and cheese, I do serve Annie’s bunny mac and cheese), black olives, carrots, cucumbers and Apple Gate Natural’s chicken sausage.
  • When I make everything family style and let everyone pick what they want off it and decide not to care what they choose to fill their bellies with, because everything I put on the platter is good.
  • When I make enough food so I have enough for another dinner during the week;, it makes me feel like I’m cheating when I heat up “what would be considered as leftovers” in my house growing up.
  • Keeping enough dried goods so if I don’t get to the store I will be able to make a dinner that keeps me from feeling like I’m failing as a mother.
  • Make one fun thing that’s just for me at some point in the day, which is usually juevos rancheros or a mushroom goat cheese omelet for a late breakfast or early lunch.


As for today, it’s a hard day. No one wants to eat anything, but everyone is starving for something. I do the best I can and so will you. The questions and lack of answers and information overload will keep coming at us and yet we will all keep doing the best we can.

Which may mean you are like me: cooking with one child on your hip while another one is attached to your leg and you’re just trying to get food on the table. And as everyone tells us, and as we tell ourselves, these days won’t last forever. With that, I’m running to go put the milk and strawberries in the refrigerator before they spoil.