Just the other day I was having lunch in LA with a super accomplished friend — a writer, editor, and acclaimed author. She’s insightful, witty, and incredibly generous. She’s also a devoted mom who has been an incredibly compassionate friend to me over the years.
But as we sat at a cute café on Sunset Boulevard eating avocado toast, she surprised me with a confession. “Shannon,” she said. “I seriously can’t cook. But I really want to learn how to make some easy dishes for my family.”
I was a little shocked at the random confession — I have a mom friend who can’t cook?!?! — but know she isn’t alone. In addition to “having it all,” there seems to be an unspoken pressure (for Jewish moms, in particular) that we must all be serious balaboostas in the kitchen.
Of course, that’s a load of bull. Many parents want to make a basic dinner for their family but are overwhelmed by the time it takes. Or they want to start cooking more, but feel intimidated because chopping veggies and preparing dinner just doesn’t come naturally. That’s sort of how I feel about volleyball, or balancing a checkbook (does anyone do that anymore?), or making homemade Halloween costumes.
So my first bit of advice is to start simple. You don’t need to make chicken and dumplings or crème brulee or steak au poivre from scratch. Kids don’t like that stuff anyways. Instead, make a tray of baked ziti. Or easy tomato soup. Or quesadillas. Kids like that. So do parents.
My next piece of advice: Ask other moms. So that’s exactly what I did. I asked the best moms I knew — other Kveller moms, obviously — which are the easiest and most delicious dinner ideas that someone with little cooking experience could throw together with great success.
This is a short list, but a great starting point for some classic, comfort dishes that are easy to master, and can definitely compliment some frozen Trader Joe’s entrees and takeout during a busy week. Because let’s be honest: Mom life is hard. Dinner doesn’t need to be.
Speedy Baked Ziti from Food and Wine
Cornflake Crusted Baked Chicken from Martha Stewart
Roasted potatoes like these Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Barefoot Contessa’s Ina Garten
Roasted Cauliflower from The Kitchn
Slow Cooker Chili from Taste of Home
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken from Skinny Taste
Cheesy Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas from MyRecipes.com
Tomato Tortellini Soup from Two Peas and Their Pod