Just do the damn dishes

This is for you, if you didn’t make the meal just do the damn dishes. I’ve timed incompetent toddlers and they can empty and load a dishwasher in under 30 minutes. That is a small investment of time to honour the wondrous bounty you just enjoyed. The dishes don’t do themselves.

I was talking with my beloved about why delaying or refusing to do the dishes, as the minions often do, vexes me so. It comes down to inputs and work dividends. So I sat down and thought about why doing the dishes is such a sweet deal for you, the food mooch, because, let’s face it, people who make food know this already.

So what does it take to make your meal happen?

1) the money and means to get the ingredients: that means either sweat to grow the food or other paid work (you could add the logistical tail of what it costs you to get to work, clothes, fees, taxes but let’s keep it simple) to buy the food. I’m a pretty frugal shopper and I cook from scratch so I can make a hearty, plentiful meal for my family for $20. I need to work 2 hours to net that plus I need to work enough to have transportation, bus or car is about $5 a round trip so another half hour. I won’t count commuting time to work. So far we are at $25 cash and 2.5 hrs of my time per evening meal.

2) a meal plan: I spend about 30 minutes a week planning meals based on what is coming in our vegetable bin, what’s on sale and what I already have in the freezer. I leave breakfast up to all for self serve but I make soups and other meals for our lunches as well as plan dinners. That’s about 2 minutes of planning per meal I make happen.

3) get the supplies: I take a few minutes to order our veggie bin and about 90 minutes to go and get supplies as well as unpack and put away the groceries. For 21 meals a week, since the supplies are also for snack and breakfast, I’ve invested 4 minutes of logistical support per evening meal.

4) make the damn meal: I chop, sautée, bake, boil…whatever. I can be pretty fast with the chopper but it takes me at least 20 minutes of prep, sometimes 40 minutes, so we will split the difference and say 30 minutes prep and 30 minutes cooking time for a total of an hour per evening meal actively prepping and cooking.

5) slinging the grub. I have to say, this is the most annoying part, calling the troops for supper, especially when they don’t respond immediately. The mental anguish of not numbing my pain with alcohol should be included but really, what price can you put on the last shred of your sanity? This takes about 10 minutes per meal, getting the dishes, cutlery and the food in front of the people.

6) haranguing the picky eater to eat the damn food. This sometimes takes 20 minutes. Sometimes I just sob quietly knowing that the fruits of my labours will be fed to the dogs, who eat feces with equal joy. I try not to take it personally. Let’s not count this, it’s just…too…much.

So lets see, it takes $25 in earned income and 3 hours and 46 minutes of my time to make that meal happen. Yes, let’s let that sink in for a bit. Let’s say that again, three hours and forty-six minutes. We haven’t counted the logistical costs of working the paid job nor mental anguish.

On a dishes light night you might spend 10 minutes collecting plates, scraping and rinsing them. Heck you may have to scrub a pot, wipe the countertops and take out the compost. Let’s say I make a complete disaster of the kitchen, you might, maybe, spend 30 minutes in total, so just do the damn dishes.



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