I generally watch a lot of the Food Network. Chopped has particular appeal. Why? Is it the zany ingredients? Nope. Not my style. I like simple, flavorful food. The competition? Nope. Not my style.  I Always have competed with myself more than anyone else.  Is it the host or the judges? Nope. If you watch the show a handful of times, it’s easy to figure them out.

So what is it then? Why, when I can’t find anything else to watch on TV, do I tune in to the Food Network, and am I extraordinarily happy when Chopped is on? Why do I stay up way past my bedtime, cutting into my precious sleep, even after my husband has been snoring for close to an hour, to see the end of each episode?

I was thinking about it today. It is cooking season, after all. The holidays are synonymous with cooking in my mind. Lots of friends and family, and, of course, food!

Here’s why I think Chopped has so much appeal. A good number of us out there are parents. Probably more than half of that group is the primary caregiver responsible for meals. And some subset of that population is, like me, a stay-at-home parent. Aside from keeping my children safe, one of my primary endeavors as a primary caregiver is to feed my children. I strive to feed them healthy, flavorful food, that is simple to make. Organic, fresh, healthy ingredients, that are easy to find at a Farmer’s Market or grocery store.

Ok, so I’ll get to the point. How many of you stay-at-home parents (or parents who work outside the house for that matter) feel like a contestant on Chopped not once a week for an hour, but seven days a week, three times a day?!!! When the little ones start whining, and the grumpies set in, and it’s time to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner, what do you do? Well, maybe on Sunday, after you’ve just done a big shop and have spent four hours in the afternoon cooking for the week, it’s easy — you just open your well-stocked Fridge and grab the tupperware that contains the fine foods you have assembled, ready for consumption.

But how about on Wednesday. When the supplies are dwindling, and you haven’t quite made it back to the grocery store. One of your kids is sick, or the weather was so lousy that you didn’t feel like making the trek to the grocery store. You open your Fridge to find that it is not so well-stocked. You still have plenty of food by most people’s standards, but you’re a little bored with your selection. What do you do? You think, what can I make with these ingredients that will be nutritious, well-balanced, tasty, AND appetizing to me AND my children (the last is the hardest part)? Well, you simply Trust Your Tastebuds, and select ingredients for your own basket. And then you might surf the internet (maybe even check out this blog), and try to find a recipe that suits your supplies, or can be modified easily to suit them.

That’s the appeal of Chopped to me. It is creative. It is somewhat validating to see that other people find it fun to whip up a tasty dish with whatever ingredients are available. If only I were eligible to win $10,000 every time I opened that Fridge. Ahhh….a Mom can dream.