It’s no secret among friends and family that I don’t really cook. And although marriage usually leads to a modest rise of time spent in the kitchen, it’s had the opposite effect in my household.

It’s no secret among friends and family that I don’t really cook. And although marriage usually leads to a modest rise of time spent in the kitchen, it’s had the opposite effect in my household.

A long commute and a husband who likes to cook more than I do factor in. As does having a job that provides access to and knowledge about the newest frozen foods. This perfect storm situation keeps me a comfortable distance from the confines of an apron.

Still, the fact that I don’t cook is at odds with the rest of my life. I spend the majority of my time thinking about, writing about and reading about food - and that’s just my day job. I also spend a significant amount of personal time reading about and eating at Chicago’s newest restaurants.

Still, somehow a love for food doesn’t add up to a love for cooking.

So, it was with dubiousness and only a glimmer of optimism that a friend and I recently decided to prepare swordfish kabobs with a homemade “zesty” marinade (calling for an obscene number of ingredients) accompanied by flatbread and a spinach salad.

“We’ll stay in, cook and save money!” was the premise. But you can guess what happened next.

After trips to a farmers market and two grocery stores, we spent more than $100 on everything from fresh herbs and produce, to artisan bread, fresh fish and herbed goat cheese. Hardly a “cheap” night in - especially when you factor in the three hours it took to prepare the meal.

The results weren’t bad. We ate enough to get full. But let’s just say it wasn't “restaurant quality.”

In fact, in some ways the whole experience had me longing for a simple and delicious meal my husband and I had “cooked” together a couple nights earlier. It took about 12 minutes to prepare and plate. It was filling and delicious. There was little post-meal clean up necessary. The whole thing cost less than $20, and the dish’s vodka sauce, chicken and penne pasta complemented with vegetables even went pretty well with a glass of red wine.

It also came pre-made, right out of freezer. And guess what? I definitely plan to make it again.

Just the facts

Respectively,79 and 78 percentof obese and overweight members of Generation M (those born between 1980 and 2000) said that they think it’s a very good idea for schools to offer healthy grab-and-go snacks and smaller portions of their favorite foods including pizza, burgers and fries.
Source: Shugoll Research and Midan Marketing’s Gen M Obesity: Understanding tween and teen obesity – causes, effects and solutions from their perspective

Noticing more sugar-free products on grocery shelves?  Frequency and awareness of diabetes is on the rise in the U.S. Today, an estimated24 million people- or 8 percent of the population - are diabetic. In addition, the number of undiagnosed diabetic cases fell 5 percent from 2006 to 2007, meaning that diabetes awareness is on the rise.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In a recent issue of theNew York Times, Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” was asked to name the top 11“best foods you aren’t eating”that are available at most grocery stores. On the list: beets, cabbage, swiss chard, cinnamon, pomegranate juice, dried plums, pumpkin seeds, sardines, tumeric, frozen blueberries and canned pumpkin.
Source: The New York Times

With rising prices at the gas station and at the grocery store, it’s not just lower income families that are having trouble making ends meet. According to recent research,24 percentof consumers making between $55,000 and $99,000 per year say they are having difficulty buying the groceries they need. Meanwhile, 56 percent of those making $35,000 per year or less and 44 percent of those making $35,000 to $54,900 say the same.
Source: Information Resources Inc.’s “IRI Times & Trends Special Report: Competing in a Transforming Economy”