What's Your "Answer to Indifference"?

Regardless of who we live with (significant other/spouse, parents, children, roommates, or all of the above), when it is time to eat together, we all experience the same song and dance:

-“What do you want for dinner tonight?”
-“I don’t care, what do you want?”
-“Just pick something. Anything.”
-[Picks something]
-“Oh no, not that. How about [something else]?”
-“I don’t know, maybe.”
-“Well, what do you want?”
-“Anything. I don’t care. Whatever you want.”
-“You pick.”

I once read that a relationship is two people in love arguing about what to have for dinner until one of them dies.

Anyway, what is your, I’ll call it, “answer to indifference”? The one meal, either home-cooked, takeout, or even heading to a restaurant that will shut all parties up and cause an immediate, unanimous agreement?

I live with two people: my mom and my BF (who moved in over a year ago). It is an interesting dynamic, and I always jokingly tell people that the two of them get along better than her and I do (but am I really joking?). Given our schedules, the three of us eat dinner together maybe twice a week. The other five nights, she is on her own and the two of us are eating a late dinner together after we get out of work. When we all do eat together, though, it can go either way, but if it heads towards indifference, it can be maddening. I even get into the psychology of it: do they truly not know what the hell they want? Are they afraid to suggest something not wanting to influence the decision (even though that is the point!)? Just trying to be polite? I am guilty of indifference too, as we all are.

In our house, the answer is fried chicken cutlets. The one meal guaranteed to end the stalemate and produce an immediate and unanimous “Okay sounds good!” They are easy, versatile (eaten straight up, in a sandwich, on a salad, etc), and can be accompanied by mashed potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, fries, veggies, whatever. They can be seasoned with an Italian or Spanish twist, or even Japanese via a Katsu breading.

That’s my answer. What’s yours?


It’s a great question so I hope my reply, while short and sweet, doesn’t disappoint. I’m married 37 years, the answer would def be an easy:

Bread, cheese, wine. Indifference Happens…there’s always the next meal.


Indifference can have a wide range of reasons, right? Ranging from
"This is the host’s meal, and I am the guest, so I am not going to suggest. " to
“She always complain after I suggest anytihng, so I am not going to god damn say anything”

Seriously, it can range from a honest “don’t care” to “I do care, but I don’t want to say because XYZ”


My husband never says 'I don’t care". He cares, has a short list, and I know what’s on it. :confused:


All of this. And also, hard as it is for me to understand, some people really don’t care what they eat. For them, it probably gets annoying to be asked what they want so often. Or maybe your housemates just like being surprised. So just make what you feel like making.

It did happened sometimes when H and I have to choose somewhere to eat. A bit the same scenario but involved 2 rather than 3 people.

Unless there is something that all 3 of you like and don’t mind eating repetitively. But I believe you already know the answer yourself. It’s not totally about food, but a reflection on the relationship, and how much each can compromise and agree to try what the others want, given it’s not a diet issue. Maybe you need to dig deeper to find the real issue of this situation.

When H and I have issues in choosing a restaurant, I usually make us a list of what I’ve chosen with different styles, and he gives the last say. I suspect you can try to do the same by making a list with dishes you approved and ask them each to choose 5 on the list for the coming meals. Might help to solve the so called indifference, that actually everybody wants to have a say but trying not to be imposing.

1 Like

What small h says here can be valid too, especially if they are not the ones that are preparing the meals.

What will happen if you go ahead to cook what you feel like without consulting them?

OMG…my dad does this to my mum all the time. And, he does care! When it’s just me, we can both figure out what we want to eat pretty easily. It feels very passive aggressive.


My DH does this to me ALL THE TIME. To be fair, he is grateful to have someone to cook meals for him and really doesn’t care what I serve because he knows it will be good, but usually I ask the question when I am feeling uninspired and want some help deciding. Being the one who always has to decide and plan meals can be mentally exhausting - even more exhausting than the actual cooking, IMO. The default meal on nights when I really just can’t think of anything is usually eggs/sausage/bacon/frittata or charcuterie/cheese/nuts/olives.


They will eat it no problem. But I like to ask what they’re in the mood for because I can usually go for anything. Maybe I’m the problem! LMAO

Same when either of them are cooking. Unless I really have a craving, I usually leave it up to them. This starts the vicious cycle all over again. :expressionless:


So true. I mean for some people eating is just something they try to get over with, not something they try to experience. Kind of like how I view my shampoo. I know I need to watch my hair. I get it. Very important. However, do I really care what brand and what not of shampoo. Probably not a whole lot.

I cook for myself 99% of the time so this makes my life a lot easier. But I get this same indifference when I’m together with my family and we decide to eat out (non-special occasion dinners). We’re way more vocal about what we don’t want or are not in the mood for, but we very rarely can articulate what we do want. It will almost always default to one of two local Chinese restaurants we all can find something we like, because my mom is the pickier or more high-maintenance eater.

If I have to choose a simple easy meal for more than just me, the default is probably soup noodles. It’s easy enough to make a quick simple soup broth, and then go and buy roast meats for toppings on the noodles. Usually it’s roast duck if it’s my family members. Make a few quick greens, and a few other toppings if we’re feeling extra fancy (soft-boiled egg, mushrooms).


To get back to the OP’s point, fried chicken should always work. The success of KFC and a zillion other purveyors acts to prove the matter.

I cooked for three covers (including me) for many years. I avoided the consensus point by rarely, if ever, consulting them on the proposed menu. Both were very much aware that if they didn’t fancy the dish I was attempting, then they were welcome to fix their own dinner. Neither ever did.

It helps if you are a kitchen “dictator”. I have been one for many years. Everything in my kitchen is my property and if any content beyond the trivial is to be disposed of, it requires my consent in advance. As does the presence of anybody who is not actively assisting me.

I’m not otherwise a control freak in any shape way or form of apart from in very narrowly specified sport attending situations.


If it’s at home then whatever the cook makes. It’s that simple.


Or this


Our approach is simple.

WIFE: What do you want for dinner on Thursday?
ME: List of five things she makes I really like, and six or seven I make - this list is pretty consistent - anything on the list is fine.
WIFE: I don’t want any of that.
ME: Then make whatever you want and I’ll eat it.

This works as long as she doesn’t try to feed me okra.


Second this - I’ve found huge differences in the decision making process when dating people who can cook, and who can’t. Also, I’m a total pushover and was raised to eat anything - I’m pretty flexible in terms of repertoire, and also have very few things I dont like to eat (okra! Except in gumbo.) The one thing I have trouble with is eating the same thing five meals in a row (hello, living alone during quarantine)


Make less? Not everything scales down well but most things do. My wife struggles mightily with this and I eat a lot of leftovers for breakfast and lunch to avoid throwing away food. Somehow I can make food with no leftovers unless I specifically want leftovers. For example if I make chicken piccata I’ll do two for dinner and throw four on the grill that turn into chicken salad, shredded for tacos, cubed for stew or chili, …


Haha, yeah… It started that way, but being locked up in this 600sq ft prison cell of quarantine has actually gotten me cooking less often but larger batches, because fresh ingredients are running lower and it’s been easier to scale up and make larger dishes. Just the incremental work going into each meal, I guess. Following HO helps me rediscover that spark though!

1 Like

We don’t have this conversation a lot, particularly lately with the self quarantines. I’m the designated cook, and since I have to keep brainstorming what to make, anytime I have an idea I write it down. Then every night, I mentally choose from my list for what I’ll make the next day, taking things out of the freezer as appropriate. The fam is pretty good about eating whatever I set in front of them. They don’t always love it, but I know their food yums and yucks well enough, and whether they feel like it that day is not an additional burden I’m going to impose on myself.

That said in more easygoing days, when there were occasional throw together meals, we can all usually coalesce on pasta. With whatever sauce or veg or etc we have lying around.


Great topic, @gcaggiano!

I live alone most of the time, other than when I’m visiting family in one of three locations.

Location one - takeout chinese, or takeout South Indian, or for home options, simple sandwiches with soup (a childhood tradition - sandwiches are usually tuna/sardine, cheese of some sort, and tomato) or eggs with toast.

Location two - this is the worst. Three different palates. Kids will eat mexican any day of the week (quesadillas, black beans). Adults can’t agree, and usually eat different things.

Location three - toast and eggs or toast and cheese or toast and smoked salmon

At home for me, when in doubt, eggs, or toast with something, or both.

My mom HATES the answer “whatever” in response to “what would you like to eat?” - it married into the family and then spread :rofl: