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Lives of Doctor Wives: dealing with dinnertime

Monday, August 10, 2009

dealing with dinnertime

My DH's intern year has begun in earnest. No more coming home at 5:30 or 6; he's beginning to work those long hours that are familiar to so many of you. I love to cook, and throughout our three-year marriage we've almost always eaten dinner together. Now, though, I can't predict when he'll be home to eat. Tonight I made a fantastic meal--seared scallops with corn coulis and a lovely summer salad of tomatoes and peaches--then sat and ate it all alone.

It's clear that I'm going to have to make some adjustments. Recipes that end in "Serve immediately" have just been pushed to the back of the box! What are some of your coping strategies for mealtimes during uncertain schedules? Have you made friends with the freezer? Do you have any standby recipes that taste (almost) as good after 2 hours?

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Anonymous Mrs. D said...

I sympathize completely! We are going through the same thing right now. We've found that the easiest way to eat together is to a) have something simple (pork chops, steak, chicken breast) and an easy veggie to throw on the grill the minute Husband gets home or b) make something that involves simmering (spaghetti, chili, soup) so it's still fresh and hot when he gets home. Stir fries are good, too. I can chop everything and cook some rice, and then throw everything in the wok and have dinner ready in 5 minutes. But I definitely admit that there are times when we turn to the good ol' microwave meal standby.

August 10, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

I've been dealing with this a lot lately. Usually, my daughter and I eat together and then if he just so happens to come home before she goes to bed, we all sit at the table again (and I may give her a few more bites).

I just still make whatever. If it's something I cook, then he just has to put it in the microwave.

It sucks - but I'm used to it now.

August 10, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Most of the time if I know my husband's going to be staying at the hospital on his call shift during dinner, I either make something and bring some in to him, or throw something small together for me and my son (usually a freezer thing). Sometimes, I just get take out for dinner, too. I've found the grill to be my best cooking friend this summer, as well as the make-ahead meals my mom's group puts together every month. The make-ahead meals are in the freezer, so I thaw them during the day, grill or bake them for dinner, add a veggie and some sort of starch, and we have dinner! Sometimes, we eat late, but that doesn't seem to bother either my husband or my son. Hope you find what works for you!

August 10, 2009 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I learned this lesson early on - we were newlyweds when my husband started internship and there was a lot of disappointment over spoiled plans. Either I would prepare something and he wouldn't come home until really late, or he had already eaten at the hospital, or I wouldn't have anything prepared (or any go-to ingredients) and he would show up early looking for dinner. oops!

Now, when I go grocery shopping I buy ingredients for 1 or 2 meals (max) that I might expect him to be at home to eat. I never start making a meal for him unless he's home. I also always keep on hand things in the pantry and freezer that can be made fast if he shows up at 10pm and never had a chance to eat at the hospital etc. These items are not culinary wonders - but they do the trick.

It's hard - I love to cook too but I've pretty much had to fend for myself and let him do the same. The times when we do get to share a meal (like tonight! And even homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert!) are more special.

August 10, 2009 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger EthidiumBromide said...

When my husband and I were still fortunate enough to live together during his intern year, we just left it that he would call me as he was leaving the hospital, and then I would start dinner. I'd have all the prep work done -- everything cut and ready to go, or assembled in a pan and ready to bake, and once I received word, I'd get to work. It usually took him ~20-25 minutes to walk home, and then he would always shower and check his email first, so it typically bought me 45 minutes of time before I needed to have dinner ready, and since I did all the prep work ahead of time, I was always easily able to do it.

August 10, 2009 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

As my 3 kids have grown, waiting for dad has completely gone out the window. If he is home, great, if he isn't, he gets a big lunch of leftovers the next day. :o)

August 10, 2009 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for these great suggestions, everyone! I guess I'm going to have to let go of the idea that I need to be providing perfect home-cooked meals all of the time.

August 11, 2009 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Laura, I feel your pain! I would get so frustrated during M's residency when I didn't know when he would be home. It turned into one of those "expect the worst, hope for the best" kind of things. I decided that dinner would be on the table for the kids and me at 7 p.m. every night. If he was home by then, we would all eat together; if not, then we would still eat, and I would fix a plate for him when he got there. This made it so much easier for me emotionally and logistically b/c I had some semblance of control, and I knew what to expect (as far as when dinner would be on the table) every night.

I still tell him "don't tell me when you're going to be home!" because when he does, it's never when he thinks it will be, and I end up more frustrated. It's all about expectations. :-/

August 11, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That sounds like a good strategy, Jennifer! I would much rather not know when he will be home than have my expectations ruined.

August 11, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Christy said...

Well, the crock-pot has become my friend! It's cheap, it doesn't heat up my kitchen, and the food stays warm for hubs whenever he drags his tail on in here!

Usually, our daughter and I eat and then he will come and eat later. Fortunately, his schedule is much better these days and we have been getting to eat together!

August 11, 2009 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

Is there any wife here that doesn't struggle with this? Twenty years later, and we've just managed to eat dinner together about 50% o the time.

When I was working too, I took weekends to freeze some dishes. I browned burger, cooked chicken, etc. and froze them in bags so I could pop them into a recipe quickly when I got home. I also made a habit of always doubling or tripling a recipe so I had another meal frozen for later. That made my life so much easier. Lazagna, Poppyseed chicken, chicken enchiladas, and meatloaf freeze well.

I also realized that I was setting myself up for disappointment when I tried to plan meals around him. Instead, I started setting out a glass of wine an small tray of cheese, or something tiny. When M finally came home, I would give him 10 minutes of cave time, greet him with a kiss, and hand him a glass of wine. It was (and still is) our special time together.

August 13, 2009 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Kathi, what a lovely idea! It's so romantic that you have that glass of wine waiting for him and that it's your moment to reconnect at the end of a long day.

So far so good this week on meals: after my sad plate of scallops that I mentioned in the post, I adjusted my plans. One night I ate an early dinner with my coworkers, then whipped up a filling BLT for my hubbie as soon as I heard his key in the door. Last night I made soup and a simple caprese salad, so everything was already prepared and ready to throw together within 5 min of his arrival. He is SO tired this week but I know he appreciates having these hot meals to come home to. I'm going to try making some freeze-ahead meals this weekend.

August 13, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Melissa Stringham said...

I ask my husband each morning if he will be home for dinner. If yes I cook something. If no then my 1-year-old and I have leftovers, cereal, or something so easy like pasta. I might change this attitude when I have older kids and just eat whether he is there or not, but for now it is not worth cooking if he is not coming home.

August 18, 2009 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger dancer said...

One thing I have noticed in doctors over age 40, most of them do not look too healthy because their eating patterns do not allow for healthy food. Pasta, meat, cheese -not good for health. No fiber. What docs and wives need is nutritional counseling and a family plan on how to provide health through more fiber and veggie sources along with quick, good protein that may not be animal sourced. I'm dating a doctor who needs to drop 40 pounds and is courting a hernia. Physician, heal thyself!

October 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM  

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