Good in the Kitchen

Kitchen canisters

I haven’t been all that happy with the food I’ve been preparing lately. Not because it isn’t healthy, or frugal, or because it takes too much work, or anything like that. Not even because it doesn’t taste good to me (because it does).

I made a realization, though. Over the last year or so, I have slowly shifted away from making many of the simple, basic, North American style meals that my husband loves. In favor of that, I have moved towards more ethnic meals, more beans and legumes, more experimenting, and less sticking with what we know and love.

This past month, I started really noticing that my husband hasn’t been as keen on my cooking. In fact, neither have my kids. It’s harder to make use of the leftovers in the fridge, so I end up eating most of them myself. I miss the rave reviews, and the hugs and kisses when my husband comes home from work and sees what’s waiting for him.

The GirlTalkers are exploring the Proverbs 31 woman right now, and the past two weeks they’ve been focusing on this verse:

She does him GOOD, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

It’s been revealing and convicting for me, in many regards. The one that really hit me yesterday was that making all the healthy and interesting dishes in the world is just a complete waste if it isn’t doing good to the most important man in my life!

So there’s a shift taking place. Last night while my husband was out at an event, I spent a lot of time writing out a list of meals that I think would serve him better, meals that he would be excited to eat once again. They don’t sound quite as healthy, but in actuality they can all be made with nourishing ingredients, and have generous helpings of salad and veggies added to their sides (and my hubby loves veggies, so that’s not a problem at all).

My new meal plans will include a lot more dishes like: taco salad, fajitas, roast beef, homemade pizza, lasagna, quesadillas, beef stew, grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup, meatballs, turkey stromboli, salmon or chicken kebabs, cheesy beef and rice, spaghetti with tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, butter chicken, burritos, and I’m sure you get the point.

Sure, I’ll still make the odd lentil or butternut squash soup, or cold rice and bean salad, or the like. Mostly, though, I will be refocusing my efforts on making these comfort foods that he really loves, with high quality ingredients and nourishing methods, along with a really good variety of veggies alongside them. I already examined my budget to see how I could make this work, and it’s tight (not that it wasn’t before), it requires more discipline and intentionality, but I think it will be alright. (And a huge thanks to Laura, whose meal plans, recipes and Getting Real with Food series were such an invaluable help to me last night!)

Best of all, I told my husband what I was thinking, and read him the list of meals I had put together. He smiled, and the relief was so evident, not just in his face, but his whole body relaxed. He said he would love it if I made meals like that all the time. I could instantly see that this change was truly doing my husband good.

It’s okay to want to challenge our families a bit, and make new and interesting and nutritious dishes. But our priority is still to serve our husbands (and our children, though I do believe their tastes need to be guided by us for the most part). If what we’re making just isn’t doing it for him, then something needs to change.

I want to truly “do him GOOD”, and that includes what I do in my kitchen.

Does the food that you’re serving bless your husband? Are you trying to make healthy changes that he is resisting? How have you learned to balance improving your diet with making food that your he still loves?

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  1. You’re such an inspiration in your will to serve your husband. I hope to be like you if/when I’ll meet the one.

  2. I can so relate to this! My husband really likes it when I occasionally make a new dish…but if I get too experimental, he’ll just look at me and “Can we just have a hamburger…please?”

    I think my cooking can almost be idolatrous (is that spelled right?) in that I get so into the idea of being Martha Stewart in the kitchen, producing intricate, delicous meals…and feeling like some of my self worth comes from it…but if it isn’t serving those I love and becomes the focus instead of serving God, what does it mean?

  3. I normally make sure I cook up 3-4 meals I know my hubby will love every week. When I do, I just make sure we eat healthier lunches to make up for the lack in nutrition. And I try and substitute healthier options (like whole wheat flour for pizza crust) when I can.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I discovered your blog while looking for ways to put nutrition into the meals we already love. I have found the most success in the current season with soups. lots of veggies and homemade bread. Everyone eats well, and is satisfied.

  5. Oh, Stephanie, I did the *exact* same thing a couple of months ago! Although my husband loves my cooking and really enjoys trying new things (and is very into healthy living), I realized that I had stopped making his favorite meals. So I appealed to my blog readers for good pot roast recipes and started trying them out, one by one. Then I added roast chicken to the menu on a regular basis. And I scheduled in more taco salads, spaghetti (gf pasta for me), and other such things. He was really pleased when I told him what I was doing. He hastened to say how much he enjoys my cooking, but that he would, indeed, love to have some old favorites more regularly. I put together a list with his help and try to schedule one of those meals every week. Like you say, I want to serve and bless my husband, to do him good and encourage him. Keeping him healthy is a part of that, but pleasing and delighting him is vital as well. Fortunately, godly husbands are very forgiving creatures! πŸ™‚

  6. Did you write this post for me?!? Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting more and more. My husband loves to try lots of new foods (yeah for that!) but I think we have reached our limit. Especially on all the different legumes. So for the last few weeks I’ve been taking it back to the basics, making items that I KNOW he will love and so far it has been a complete success. In fact, I even overheard him bragging to some friends about one of my meals last week. Now, if that won’t keep the good foods coming, I don’t know what will! πŸ™‚

  7. I love this post! The first time I tried to make our diet healthier, my husband wasn’t on board and he was very unhappy. When I noticed it, I abandoned the effort. This time I went more gradually and talked to him about what I was learning. Also, our finances are tighter so he was motivated to eat more beans and rice. Still, there are a lot of ways to make beans and rice! I try to pay attention to what he likes and what he is only eating to be polite. It does help that he has come around to wanting to eat healthier. If he hadn’t I would still choose to honor him over choosing to eat the healthiest. I think what you are doing is right on, making what he likes with a lot of healthy sides.

  8. oh my, have i struggled in this greatly. i am about 10 weeks pregnant right now, so not much in the way of cooking is happening, but normally i am forever looking for new, nourishing recipes with which to “challenge” my family, and end up downright angry when they do not eat the meals i make.i SO relate to the idolatry talked about by a previous poster. my husband’s pickiness (not to mention normal kid pickiness) does make it hard–he hates all but 3 vegetables, does not care for soup, and would simply be happy with a box of hamburger helper. that’s how he was raised and even after 12 years i have big trouble getting past those tastes.

    BUT like you, i have found that if i make regular, hearty, homemade meals like lasagna, chicken and rice, nachos, etc, he is happy! and all those meals are wonderful made with nutritious ingredients–not a fake thing in sight. yeah–i’d like to eat lighter. i’d like to have a dinner salad once in awhile. i’d love to do my mom’s traditional austrian soups made with bone stock. but i find if i can get those ingredients in in a way that pleases my hubby (cook rice in the bone stock), then we are ALL happier and i have fulfilled my role as nurturer of the people in my home. thanks for this reminder!

  9. This is a great post Stephanie! I’m glad my site was helpful to you. It IS amazing what “normal” food we can make that is healthy and pleasing to everyone. I think we can all relate to what you are saying, and I think it’s great that you shared it!

  10. Yes, this sounds exactly like me except for one thing and that is that you are being so gracious and understanding about your situation. Also, my husband doesn’t really care for vegetables and I have five sons who only want to eat pasta and tacos. After reading your post, I feel that I must give up my desires in the area of eating and food preparation. I will simply have to eat the pasta and corn chips for the sake of my family’s happiness. In my case (not saying this about anyone else), dying to self means cooking and eating things that make me feel less than well both physically and emotionally.
    In reading these comments, as well as in observing people, it appears that much of this is a gender difference. Often, women and men want and even need to eat very different foods. However, in a family, that is not always convenient or even possible.
    Thank you, Stephanie, for addressing such an important topic. Your blog is wonderful- informative and convicting.

  11. Isn’t it interesting how similar our husbands are?!

    Yes, Alison, they’re very forgiving creatures!

    Jeana, I think you’re right on about waiting until they’re ready and motivated, and really talking through it with them. We often read and research and make decisions on our own, without talking it through with them and sharing the vision of why we want to do something.

    Hope, I will confess that I didn’t want to change things at first either. I like more interesting and experimental food, and I really like a lot of the dishes I’ve been making. But you’re right, it’s not always convenient to make everyone happy in their differences. I feel like serving my husbands tastes, and working to make those meals as healthy as possible is the best compromise I can come up with right now.

  12. Stephanie,
    Thank you for the encouragement to serve my sweet husband and children with love from the table. πŸ™‚

  13. That is so funny that you posted this today! I JUST read that verse from Prov. this morning and I feel as if God highlighted it to me and then I go and read this!! God must really want me to learn this. I’ve been composing my own blog in my head for later today titled “Doing Him Good”. I struggle with this not just in the kitchen unfortunately! This was the kick I needed. I’m still chuckling at God’s sense of humor. I guess I needed it spelled out for me or something…*chuckle*

  14. HI Stephanie: I agree with you whole heartedly. When I first changed our families diet to whole foods over 9 years ago, I went gusto and left no room for cheating at home. I over the years have loosened the grip and allowed for some cheats and also using old recipes with healthier ingredients in them, that does not very the comfort taste of them. I have loved the series by the gals at Girl Talk as well.
    Carey from Alberta

  15. Great post. I have been trying lots of new things also lately and the family has just given them a lukewarm reception. Maybe I should just go back to the tried and true, making sure the ingredients are as healthy as possible. Thanks!

  16. Thanks for sharing!! I struggle along that line too. I am not sure that anything shows my hubby love better than a good chocolate Wacky cake! I need to sit down with favorites and work on them too, I get the same response with my healthy cooking….

    I love Laura’s recipes too! Need to make some more pretzels I think πŸ™‚

  17. You go girl! Thanks for the encouragement. This is one of the reasons I haven’t gone full swing with the nourishing traditions cookbook…my husband needs to be first on my priority list! Make those traditional meals more healthy and everyone stays happy!

  18. My husband and I recently had this same conversation! I was enjoying trying new things, but they were things that he didn’t like very much. We sat down with my recipe lists and crossed out recipes that we didn’t both like and made a list of his favorite meals.

    I went to the store today and the bill was a bit higher than it had been, but I realized that little bit of money will make a huge difference for my husband!

  19. God works in amazing ways. I was just asking myself today what to do about the exact same situation in my own home. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone – thank you!

    It sounds like you’re doing exactly what I was thinking of doing today – going through my old, tried-and-true, well-loved recipes and seeing what can be adjusted. At the very least, we’ll have lots of veggies to go along with them (and my man loves fruits and vegetables too – there was a time when he was almost begging for them. See how people change!). πŸ™‚

    Anyway, thanks again. You have no idea how encouraging your post is/was. I’ll have to pass it along to some of my friends who have similar issues. God bless you!

  20. I had to laugh when I read this. And after reading the comments I conclude it seems to be a very common situation! When we had some friends living with us, they seemed to take over with meal planning, even though I did much of the prep. After 2 weeks of it, my husband said to me, “can we just have chicken and vegetables?” It had gone too far in his mind, and I’ve kept that in mind when planning meals now that our friends have moved.

    I made homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese with our homemade bread last weekend and it was great!

    For more on your original title of the post, be sure to listen to Mark Driscoll’s sermon series on the Peasant Princess. I’ve listened to 3 so far and they’re interesting, and inspiring, and so very solid!

  21. Once upon a time I was in that same place. I was doing my best, I thought I was doing a great job, and I was making my poor husband miserable. Knowing our husband’s and finding ways to make their lives easier is part of our calling and too often we forget when we get caught up in all the other stuff.

  22. All of your comments are so encouraging- it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who needed to examine this area!

    I totally had to laugh when Lisa mentioned the original title of my post… did anyone catch it? Early this morning it was titled “Doing him good in the kitchen”. A fellow blogger emailed and said that it might be taken the wrong way, LOL! I quickly changed the title to what it is now- it makes less sense, but it won’t be misconstrued, anyways! πŸ™‚

  23. Like everyone else I feel like you are speaking to me. I’ve been struggling with making meals healthier (or just making meals at home period!). My husband turns up his nose at anything that even sounds healthy. I will have to try making “normal” meals with healthier items. Thanks so much for your post. It’s really great to hear other women’s solutions to this issue :o)

  24. I agree totally. A few years ago I went on this kick of new and different dishes EVERY night. My husband and kids never really complained but I knew they were not really excited and I also ended up eating or trashig leftovers. So, I asked my husband and he said I just want a good roast, hamburger steak and maybe a normal cheap pasta. I laughed so I save a day or two in the month to make those new interesting meals and if they are hit they become regular and if not they are BYE-BYE!

  25. FANTASTIC post, Stephanie. Absolutely timely for me and I thank you for it. EXCELLENT!

    (and while I’m here, can I just say THANK YOU for continuing to publish full feeds? I do almost all of my blog reading through email these days – in an attempt to keep things simple – and you full feed publishers are my heroes! Also, I hadn’t seen your button yet so I am gonna grab it and add it today! Blessings.)

  26. I totally get this and believe that food can’t be healthy and nourishing if your family doesn’t enjoy it!! I’ve made it my challenge to make our food healthy AND delicious!

  27. This is actually something that I have been thinking about a lot lately as well. I have been trying hard to only have one or two meals a week that are not his stlye. To make it work for our budget, it has to be that way…at least for now. But it used to be more like 4-5 meals a week that weren’t what he liked. He is happier now with things this way.

    Its so hard sometimes to balance all the needs- as a mom the tiredness, as a wife the needs of the husband, as a homemaker the financial crunch, etc. but I know my husband needs to be a priority. Thanks for the insight on how that is in your family!

  28. These same thoughts have been running through my mind lately too. Over the last year, I have moved to cooking a lot more ethnic foods, mostly vegetarian, and with lots of legumes, rice, etc. While my husband has never complained, I know that he doesn’t enjoy my cooking as much as he used to. Last night I made a venison roast, biscuits, mashed potatoes, green beans and coleslaw. I have cooked like this in a loooong time, and it isn’t my favorite way to cook. But my husband was SO happy and obviously enjoyed the meal. I too, want to start cooking more foods that he really enjoys, while making them with healthy, fresh ingredients.
    Thanks for this encouraging post!

  29. along these lines, i have really been missing meal plan mondays. i would love if you could keep us in the loop of the meals you do make for your family (after this decision). thanks

  30. Great post…and a wonderful reminder about how important it is to do good to our husbands. I just found your blog and I’ve got it marked in my favorites folder…I’ll be back. : )

  31. I am so glad I found this blog about a month ago now. Your site really truly helps women like me find easier ways to serve our husbands and family. Thank you for investing time others and not just your family it truly shows in your writings, I can say that I read everyday now and implementing many of the things and tips you have here. Thank you so much.
    .-= Elizabeth AsheΒ΄s last blog ..Paraben Free beauty Products – What You Don’t Know =-.

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