Pretend I was wealthy and could afford to hire people to do the things I was too busy making money to do myself.

Now let’s say I could only pick one aspect of my daily routine to outsource to someone else. Just one. Can you guess what it would be?

Because I have mastered the fine art of maternal guilt and have yet to perfect the skills of balancing a family budget on the credit (fine) line, I admit openly that I am failing in the area of meal preparation. I dream of hiring a personal chef.

Food is supposed to be a point of gathering, quality time over nutritious flavours and the smells of home. I won’t tell you what my home smells like, but it’s not freshly baked apple pie I can assure you (two points if you guessed hockey gear and sneakers).

I believe in the concept. I even have a lovely harvest table to enjoy the fantasy meals of fresh, locally-sourced delights, but unless that bounty of food is delivered in a pizza box to the door, don’t bet on it.

My reputation is so renowned on this matter that I have one regular take-out stop on my route who waits for me to come in and says, “Is it your turn to cook dinner tonight?” Sigh. Yes, it is.

Every Sunday I sit down with the colour co-ordinated fridge calendar that schedules the who-goes-where of my little family and try to pre-plan meals for the week ahead, knowing full well that at any given moment it is all subject to change  (don’t even get me started on the challenges of packing school lunches, seriously).

Without exaggeration, this week alone I will miss three dinners, the Carpenter will miss at least one, and the children will eat later than 8pm at least three times each. There isn’t much point in setting the table.

That’s why I am bringing back TV trays. That’s right, TV trays. Once in vogue in living rooms right across the nation, these portable, wobbly trays on stilts made lap dinners in front of the warm blue glow of the television a right of passage for my generation.

In the ‘70s we ate dinner on the sofa and watched MASH. Years later it was Cheers and Jeopardy. I grew up eating dinner in front of a television. And guess what? My parents didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. We were a busy family with two working parents trying to pay the bills. Back then it was normal. Those handy trays suited everyone’s independent schedule.

I know I’ll hear about this column and I’ll get good sound advice about the Sunday pre-bake meal plans and the good old Crock-Pot and these good intentions will echo the guilt I fight weekly, which says “be more organized” – but my doctor would remind me to “slow down, and rest a little.”

Sometimes, I choose rest over pre-made lasagna.

Regardless, I am grateful for the dilemma. I’m lucky to have food on my plate and people to share it with, when we can make the schedule work. I encourage you to consider that the point of the harvest season is to share the wealth.

Our Wellington County food banks need us because our neighbours do. Please share what you can, when you can.

Food connects us here.



Kelly Waterhouse