If it’s four o’clock, that means I have no idea what to cook for dinner

One of my favorite shows to watch is Chopped on the Food Network.  Have you seen it?  Four contestants are given a basket of “mystery” ingredients and they must concoct an appetizer in twenty minutes.  One contestant is chopped, then the remaining three get a basket of more “mystery” ingredients and in a slightly longer time-frame, they must create an entree.  Another contestant is chopped and the remaining two contestants compete in the dessert round.

The “mystery” ingredients are always odd, sometimes stuff I’ve never even heard of, other times, ingredients that would confound and sicken me (a whole sheep’s head, anyone?) and sometimes they’re just weird (a box of chocolate covered donuts for the entree round, for instance).

My whole life is an episode of Chopped except that I have a pantry rather than a basket and I don’t have any fancy kitchen gadgets and I am not a creative cook and I would rather be pretty much anywhere than the kitchen.  (Oh, and I have no camera crew, no good pot-holders, merciless judges, no training, and no possibility of winning $10,000.)

So today, after work at about 3:30 PM I was lying in bed playing Candy Crush on my phone when it rang.  My husband called and I told him I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner and he suggested:

  • Meatloaf
  • Spaghetti
  • Hamburgers

I shot down each suggestion because I didn’t have any thawed ground beef or sausage (which I use to make spaghetti sauce).  After I hung up the phone to continue losing Round 65 of Candy Crush, I pondered what I could make.

I did a Google search for a recipe for “Cheeseburger Soup.”  Doesn’t that sound like it’s a recipe?  I didn’t find it.  Then I thought maybe stuffed cabbage.  I settled on Porcupine Meatballs.

Not that I’ve ever made them but a quick scan of the recipe showed common ingredients.

I started gathering ingredients and thawing the meat and grabbing giant bowls and turning on the oven and all that jazz.  As if I were a real cook.

Then I remembered the recent incident of the Rice in the Pantry in which I discovered little black rice-shaped bugs crawling in the long-grain white rice. (Welcome to Southern California.)

At this point, a Chopped contestant would come up with a brilliant and tasty substitution.  I went upstairs, fixed my hair, slapped on enough make-up to disguise my utter fatigue and went to the grocery store to spend $2.69 on a bag of rice.

Start to finish, cooking dinner took me two and a half ridiculous hours.

Everyone liked the meatballs, mashed potatoes and asparagus.  And I did not serve any bugs with my rice, but I did hear a report of a Bernese Mountain Dog hair in a meatball.

And that, my friend, was my mystery ingredient.

(Sadly, I was not chopped.  I will appear in the kitchen again tomorrow night at 4 PM with absolutely no idea what to make for dinner.  I just hope the mystery ingredient isn’t rattlesnake meat.)


10 thoughts on “If it’s four o’clock, that means I have no idea what to cook for dinner

  1. Oy, I so know how you feel. I DREAD making meals, but then I dread most household chores. My kids are close to leaving home, and I am going back to work full-time next week, so my days of worrying about it are almost over. Cooking for my husband and I alone will be much easier than dealing with the finicky eaters who are my children.


  2. Hahaha! There are 3 people in my household, and the only thing we can all agree on is pizza. Cheese pizza. Thin crust. The end. I hate making dinner. I usually end up making at least two entirely different, balanced meals. makes me nuts I tell ya.


  3. My kids are grown..when they were all here the question I dreaded every day was “what are we having for dinner?’ except for those few times I was totally prepared and on top of it. You know the crockpot was up and running early in the day and I could quickly respond to the dreaded question. Now it’s just my husband and I and many nights we both have had a big lunch so not hungry for dinner. Oh how life changes!!


  4. We’re right there with you. Every single day without fail, the question crops up: what do we have for dinner? Actually, I think just trying to solve THAT question is harder than actually cooking anything. I’ve had the notion of installing a big prize wheel in the kitchen that has every possible dinner meal suggested listed on it, and we all take turns spinning it to see what we’ll have for dinner that night. The winner has to go fetch ingredients.


  5. On Chopped, after making an entree and not being eliminated, don’t you have to make dessert the next time?

    I’m hungry for a good sweet. Can you tell?


  6. As always, thank you for the smile, I regularly go into that 4pm panic about what’s for dinner.

    I am burned out on cooking (mostly because I’m still trying to loose this last 15 pounds and I’m eating much differently than my family–no grain or starchy veggies) so I have a couple pantry staples that I make sure I always have to fall back on (tortillas and cheese for quesadillas, scrambled eggs in tortillas with salsa, and the kind of bacon that comes mostly pre cooked and can sit in a box in your pantry for BLT’s). One of the things I keep meaning to do but am terrible about being consistently in place is to have my kids plan the meals so that all I have to do is shop and cook.


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