With my job change, I lost my fabulous cooking lady who had been making delicious meals for us for the past 3 years because I needed someone who could not only cook but also do other house chores. We got lucky and found that someone. Unfortunately her husband was diagnosed with cancer when I was in China and therefore we had to look for her replacement in a hurry. I tried another person and to my disappointment, it didn’t work out. The prospect of having to make dinner after a long work day stressed me out somewhat. So Joe and I had a discussion about the situation and came up with a solution that was a little unsettling to me.

For house cleaning, we’d use a professional like we did before. I’d take care of the laundry on Friday when I work from home. For dinner, Joe proposed ordering takeout. That sounded so unloving, unhealthy and could potentially be time consuming if the restaurant was out of the way. Then I thought about the cafeteria on the 11th floor at work. My company is ranked the healthiest in the U.S. and the cafeteria offers a variety of healthy choices at very reasonable prices. Maybe that could be one of our takeout sources? I started to feel this new lifestyle might have a slight chance of success.

On my day off on Veteran’s Day, I went to Sam’s club and bought a cart full of processed fresh veggies, frozen shrimp tails, lobster and crab cake dinner, mini-corn dogs, chicken nuggets, fruits, snacks, spices, seasons and a big bottle of olive oil. A couple of times this week, I bought side dishes from the cafeteria and one day I brought home fish fillet and sushi. Then all I have to do is boil the veggies or bake the entries, and dinner is ready! After careful research, Joe purchased online a smoothie maker that makes delicious drinks to go with our dinner. My ‘cooking’ is making the guys in my life very pleased. Joe has set a goal to lose a few pounds and get fit. He’s been running almost every day and believes that our new diet will make him leaner and healthier. Jake has never been too crazy about Asian food. Because he didn’t eat that much at the dinner table, the boy spent the evening nibbling on snacks. Now he asks for seconds and tells me I cook better than the cooking lady. The boy eats more than his dad, seriously.

The idea of not serving the Chinese-style dinner that takes hours to make bothered me initially. After all, my grandmother spent her life cooking for the big family and she was very good at it. My mother toiled preparing my father’s favorite dishes the exact way he liked it, although cooking wasn’t her favorite thing to do in the world. Honestly I eat because I have to not because I get much pleasure out of it. Maybe that’s why I have no interest in cooking. Nevertheless I wanted to keep the Chinese/family tradition. So all these years, I paid someone to cook Chinese meals for us. The kids always preferred American food. Joe and I don’t eat that much and thus couldn’t consume all the dishes that were supposedly prepared for the whole family. All these factors didn’t make departing from the old and yet familiar lifestyle easier. It was as if I were disconnecting from my roots. Everyday I find it necessary to give myself permission to endorse our new way of eating.

On WeChat, I see pictures of exquisite and elegantly displayed Chinese dishes almost every day taken by those who were dining and wining at the fancy restaurants. It may be hard for my friends in China to applaud our new diet. Some may even feel sorry for us. But rest assured that we’ll be fine. Now that we’ve stopped stir-frying, the house is cleaner, waste is greatly reduced, we eat fresh every day and are more independent than ever! I can always satisfy my craving for Chinese by eating out at Chinese restaurants on weekends even though they can’t be compared with the not-so-good ones in China.

I am happy things are working out for the better. I am also grateful that with the time saved from cooking and cleaning, I get to enjoy life and pursue my own interests and passion. Life is as sweet and a smoothie!