Dinner. I made it just about every night for 50 years. A protein, a green vegetable (sometimes cauliflower), a salad. I made lunches, too. Soup and a sandwich, perhaps a cookie or two thrown in.

Many of you out there can relate. It gets old. The ten thousandth time you make spaghetti, even if you use jarred sauce, the entire process becomes pure drudgery. A duty. The times you really have to try hard to excel, making turkey, stuffing, and all those damn sides, it saps the will to live right out of you. Me. It sapped me.

So one day, I threw in the towel and informed my husband that since the nest is empty, and I have no more will to sauté, it is his turn. He has to prepare the dinners, and I will clean up.

This has gone remarkably well, since we have subscribed to various meal subscription boxes. In our weekly box are the ingredients and recipes for three meals for two people. Thirty minutes or less to prepare.

Some observations:

  • The thirty minutes or less is aimed at those of us who have cooked for 50 years. For spouses whose main skills have involved strolling in when called and sitting down to eat, thirty minutes is way off. My husband optimistically starts cooking each night at seven, and two hours later, dinner is ready.
  • When I used to cook, I would make the stuff, then grab plates and scoop whatever we were having onto the plates and slap them on the table. No ceremony. No parsley garnishes. My husband’s goal, however, is to do what the chefs of the world call plating. If the food doesn’t look exactly like the photo on the recipe card, he works at it until it does. Even if some of the items on the plate get cold during the plating process, it’s the end result that counts.
  • The chefs that devise the recipes for these kits are very clever, and the food is generally excellent, even delicious. There is an occasional “miss,” but you can’t please everybody.
  • Since we are primarily vegetarian, the meal boxes hit heavily on Mexican, Indian, and Mediterranean food, in which meat isn’t so important.
  • However, if I never see another chickpea, it will be too soon.
  • Portion size varies. Some kits allocate one half cup of cooked rice per person. This might be fine, but when what is on top of the rice also measures one half cup, we have a problem. My husband, who is very slender by nature, eats his portion and gets up from the table, seemingly feeling fine. I however, head for the microwave popcorn. I am not inherently slender.
  • Sometimes the meal kit folks get confused and send us beef. We gag and give it to the neighbors.
  • On the four nights per week that fall back on me, due to the fact that we get only three kits a week, my husband knows he will be getting tuna sandwiches, spaghetti and Ragu sauce, or if I am really inspired, Doordash.
  • Since we have started doing this, we have subscribed to six different meal kit providers. Each company seems to favor certain ingredients (see chickpeas, above). Switching it up provides variation. The kits we get now feature black beans a lot.
  • The photo above is of fried brown rice with snow peas, garlic shreds, sesame oil, and carrots. Kale is involved.
  • We may soon be sick of kale, and then we will have to switch kit companies again. I will be looking for one that relies heavily on gravy.


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