The ongoing challenge of cooking for the family
I am not a foodie. I have posted a few recipes lately, e.g., egg muffins, not because they’re super-creative masterpieces that you wouldn’t find anywhere else, but because it’s a special thrill for me to find something that works; something that isn’t too hard to make. If I see a recipe that has more than five ingredients or calls for a ton of spices…um, yeah. It’s not happening.
Who has time to cook, never mind plan menus or shop for food? For numerous reasons I found myself at the supermarket five times in the past seven days. These five visits were because of shopping in stores that didn’t have all the produce I wanted (Wal-Mart) or not having things we were out of on the list (small, convenient, and costly supermarket).
Cooking for the family when you don’t want to eat what they eat
I thought creating a weekly menu would be a good idea when the school year started, but doing so promptly caused me to gain weight. I can’t eat Man Food, and that is basically what everyone else in my house likes. Monday was Mac ‘n’ Cheese Night. I had asked one of my friends for her mac ‘n’ cheese recipe, because one of my boys said I’d never make mac ‘n’ cheese as well as Mrs. So-and-so, “so don’t even try.” Yet he loves Mrs. So-and-so’s, and I asked for the recipe. I made it three times, but he was “not hungry” every single time. (Actually maybe this belongs in the “don’t feel like eating” section below, except for the fact that it’s part of the Man Food Menu). I hate wasting food so I wound up eating too much of it because I am usually the only one that east leftovers. My friend did warn me that it was fattening.
Tuesday was chicken night, so that was easy. I tried making baked chicken, crockpot chicken, chicken cooker chicken (I have this nifty pottery thing), and even tried “the other white meant.” I don’t think the kids like any kind of chicken other than any shape that is breaked. This could mean chicken fries, chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, or chicken strips. I usually end up cooking two things…kids and grownups.
Wednesday was pasta night. Then it turned into meatball sub night. I’d make a whole crockpot of meatballs and sauce and we got the point where one boy was eating one meatball sub and then the dogs and I would be eating meatballs for the next several days.
Thursday was taco night. Sometimes it still is, but really only one of my boys is super-excited about tacos. I will join him and use lettuce wraps, but it’s a LOT of work.
Friday and Saturday could be pizza and whatever. The kids aren’t always with us and sometimes we go out.
Sunday is usually a crockpot thing that no one besides my husband and I eat.
My whole menu planning idea has pretty much fallen apart.
Cooking for the family when they don’t all like the same things
I have one boy whose entire food repertoire could possibly be counted on two hands. He likes breaded chicken, french fries/tater tots/smiley fries/the equivalent, grilled cheese sandwiches, squeeze yogurt, ultra sharp cheddar cheese, crackers, blueberry applesauce. That’s seven things, so I still have three fingers left over. Of course there are variations. Take crackers for example. He likes Goldfish, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, or saltines. The same goes for potatoes — the shape doesn’t matter so much as long as they have the right amount of crispness on the outside. However, regarding squeeze yogurt and sharp cheddar cheese, only one brand for each. We tried the supermarket brand of sharp cheddar; I had bought a pre-sliced pack because it was the same unit cost as unsliced, and he didn’t like the size of the slices. I guess you could say that different flavors of squeeze yogurt = variety, but even that is a bit of a stretch. We have not yet found a type of spoon yogurt that he likes. (God forbid if it has any particles of fruit in it.)
My older two are less selective but still have quirky appetites. I know one of them eats well at school because they have a gourmet menu at his cafeteria. I am not even kidding — it’s probably like most corporate dining experiences. This is the menu for today, as an example.
Cooking for the family when they don’t feel like eating
One of my boys does not like to eat between waking up and when he gets home from school, other than a granola bar or two. He then eats a lot when he gets home (like a whole box of cereal) and isn’t hungry for dinner. Then he eats again late night. One of my boys works during dinner time on some days. Now that we’re in baseball season, dinner time is whenever. Last night it was in the car on the way somewhere. No one wants to — or even can — eat at the same time.
I was talking the other day to someone about my corned beef and cabbage dinner and he asked if the kids liked it. I told him they didn’t even eat it.
He looked at me puzzled.
“They don’t always eat what we eat.”
“We don’t always sit together at dinner.”
“It was 9:30 p.m. by the time we sat down and one of them wasn’t even home.”
I realized it sounded “terrible.” We don’t have family dinners — horrors! However, that’s the reality of it. We have family time in the morning.
As I conclude this post, I am trying to figure out if I can get to the supermarket this evening (because we’re low on cereal). One of the boys has 8:40 p.m. hockey practice, though maybe I can go while he’s at practice. It would be an unfamiliar store because the rink is far, far out of town (due to the fact that all of our rinks in town have already been melted), and I’d be putting groceries away after 10 p.m., but it is doable.
Yes, the cooking for the family struggle is real!
How do you handle shopping, menu planning, and cooking? Do you enjoy it?