Hanging Up My Apron

After turning 70 Gail Grant found cooking a chore. Here’s how meal kits, poached eggs on toast and guilty-pleasure dinners have kept her happily fed.

September 18, 2020 | | Over the Next Hill

So, here’s the thing. For me, cooking – or to be more specific, planning meals and food shopping – has become drudgery.

My relationship with the kitchen has always been shaky, but somewhere around my 70th birthday any pleasure, inspiration or joy I may have previously felt in the kitchen went missing. Feeding myself became tedious and boring.

And this puts me in a bit of a bind.

Friends who share my attitude have partners who enthusiastically and, in most cases, proficiently stepped into the breach. As a single, I don’t have that option. And because eating is an integral part of living, I really must come up with solutions to this dilemma.

In the past, I’ve been a seasonal cooker, not a recipe user. I bought whatever looked fresh and nutritious, and figured out how to prepare it when I got home. So my meals developed during the food shopping trip, rather than from cookbooks. But with pandemic precautions in place, food shopping has become a gruelling chore. No inspiration there.

Neighbours who recently moved into a retirement residence say the number 1  reason for selling their condo and relocating was the availability of three meals a day in the onsite dining room.

But uprooting seems a bit drastic. Surely there are other options.

My daughter suggested I try the boxes of ready-to-cook meals that are delivered to the doorstep. What a great idea! A menu popped up on my computer once a week, I made my selections and on the specified day a courier dropped off a box of fresh ingredients, all prepped, proportioned and ready for the pan, complete with colourful, step-by-step recipe cards.

Most meals took 20 to 30 minutes to prepare, vegetarian and gluten-free options were available, and the cost was automatically charged to my credit card. Simplicity itself.

This worked well for a while, until it occurred to me that I was turning down social invitations in an attempt to get through the food that was piling up in the fridge. Not ideal in a world in which one in every nine people goes hungry.

For some seniors, Meals on Wheels is an option. Christine Sevigny, executive director of Caledon Meals on Wheels, which serves Caledon, as well as Orangeville and the surrounding area, says the volunteer-driven organization delivered 21,571 meals last year, enabling 272 seniors to remain in their homes.

To qualify, a person must be 65 or older, or recovering from surgery, or have a health condition that warrants food delivery. The cost of meals is subsidized by the provincial health ministry. A hot meal delivered to your door will currently set you back $7.50.

Caledon MOW also touches the lives of nearly 800 seniors in Caledon and the Orangeville area through a number of wellness activities, including the popular “Wee” Care Grocery program, which is providing grocery baskets to seniors during the Covid outbreak. “We’re happy to do our best to make our seniors’ lives easier,” says Christine.

In a pinch, I still find it easy to pick up a barbecued chicken from the supermarket or perhaps one of the home-cooked frozen offerings from any of our fine local catering or specialty food shops – or even drive-through takeout.

But a step up from bringing home a burger and fries is rediscovering the local fine dining establishments that are currently offering pickup menus. Add a linen tablecloth, some candles, chilled bottles of wine and a few friends, and the evening becomes a “dining in” event, without the hassle of pots and pans to clean up. What a bonus. And of course, we all know the benefits of sharing a meal with others are incalculable.

Yet I have been known to dine on popcorn. Or perhaps a thrown-together salad with bits and pieces found in the fridge, or even a poached egg on toast. I figure the Canada Food Guide, upgraded or not, has had its way with me for long enough. I feel justified in occasionally submitting to guilty pleasures.

And there is a certain freedom in needing to please only ourselves, without a lot of fuss and muss, while giving in to strange cravings every now and then. We’ve earned the privilege.

When Covid-19 turned the world on its head, some wag suggested that at the end of the turmoil there would be two types of survivors: those who have become outstanding cooks, and those who have developed a drinking problem. I certainly won’t be the former.

About the Author More by Gail Grant

Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

Related Stories

Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Sigrid Wolm

Sep 18, 2020 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Sigrid Wolm may have closed her iconic kitchen store, but she’s far from ready to retire.

Quarantini with a twist: Writer Gail Grant settles in for a Skype chat with a distant friend. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Home Alone

Jun 25, 2020 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Living solo in the era of Covid-19.

Waterloo’s shiny new Research Institute for Aging is a beacon of hope as older adults struggle to preserve their well-being. (Photo courtesy RIA.)

Older Could Be Better

Jun 19, 2018 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

The Research Institute for Aging works to improve quality of life for seniors.

After her husband’s death, Kathryn MacDuffee determined to make the best of the new phase in her life. Hiking expeditions with friends included a trip to the Grand Canyon in 2015. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Senior and Single

Mar 19, 2019 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Living alone doesn’t have to be lonely.

Friends, old and new, are a bulwark against loneliness and loss.

The Importance of Companionship

Sep 16, 2016 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Friends, old and new, are a bulwark against loneliness and loss.

Kay MacDuffee, 80, of Caledon has been taking time to meditate twice a day for about 15 years. The goal is to become grounded in the moment. Photo by Pete Paterson.

The Benefits of Meditation

Mar 21, 2016 | Gail Grant | Over the Next Hill

Stress relief also aids memory and it’s like pressing the reset button on your computer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.