Family dinners. Everyone knows they need to make time for them. And, of course, that includes planning them. But life has a way of getting in the way. Often times, this ritual can take a hit and the guilt parents face hits a record high.
There’s been a trend of honest articles where parents admit to either not liking to cook family dinners or to questioning if its worth the trade-offs. This piece in New York Magazine about a mom admitting she doesn’t like to cook caused a stir:
“…cooking belongs, inevitably, to the moms. I’ve tried to find outrage among my sister mothers about this reactionary development. But here’s the unkindest cut: It turns out that other women — traitorously — now like to cook. They find cooking expressive and fascinating. No one but me wants to be a born defroster anymore. “I hear you, but I like to cook,” said one feminist the last time I tried my bold association of foodism with rank misogyny.”
And who could forget that article on Slate (Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner) summarizing research on 150 families saying most struggle to reach the family meal ideal:
“The mothers they interviewed had largely internalized the social message that “home-cooked meals have become the hallmark of good mothering, stable families, and the ideal of the healthy, productive citizen,” but found that as much as they wanted to achieve that ideal, they didn’t have the time or money to get there.”
Over at Finding Our Best Selves, a husband and wife team write about all the things they don’t do, which include cooking as much as they want to.
“Thank goodness for BJs & Trader Joe’s frozen meals and a neighbor who caters reasonably-priced home-cooked meals for busy families. Without them, the whole family would be on a peanut butter-and-jelly diet five nights a week.”
I like honest feedback because only when we are truthful can we find solutions that work for us. I’ve been meal planning since I started family meals 6 years ago. No doubt it has helped me get meals on the table, but there are still barriers that rear their ugly head. Some are new as our schedules change and others are constant, like running to the store during the week for those missing items.
I’m in the process of shaking things up a bit which is why I haven’t posted meals plans lately (more on that later). I’ve been mulling over how I want to make changes and simplify in the new year. As I reflect, I want to know your family dinner obstacles and successes. Are you satisfied with your meal repertoire? Ease of preparation? What about organization and execution? What have you found works and doesn’t work.
As incentive, I have two cookbooks from Cooking Light to send off to two winners entitled: Lighten Up, America: Favorite American Foods Made Guilt Free. All you have to do is leave a comment, telling me how family dinners are going in your home. The giveaway will end this Friday the 5th. And don’t forget that radical honesty thing! You’ll never get judgment here.
I’ve been a SAHM for nearly 9 years now. It’s been a process for our family; we have 4 boys, ages nearly 9, 5, and 2-year old twins. I made a lot of mistakes with my first, and finally came across Ellyn Satter’s DOR, which helped me figure out to feed my firstborn along with the family, and stop giving him ‘baby food’ (he was over a year old). I’m glad I figured it out then, though! I’d go nuts if I was doing the short-order cook thing. I know in my head that doing a better job of planning meals ahead of time would stream-line dinner, but I often don’t think of dinner til about 2pm, when my twins are napping. I think the frustration a lot of people have with family meals, especially if they have little ones, is going to the hard work to make a meal and half the family barely likes it. I’ve learned to just enjoy my meal, and don’t worry too much if all the kids eat is bread rolls and milk It is now a minor annoyance instead of a huge deal if I’m the only one who likes the meal. My husband works long hours 4 days a week, and on those days isn’t always able to join us for dinner.
I feel like I have a decent number of recipes in my repertoire, and I do enjoy cooking, but my down-fall is lack of planning. I tend to have a well-stocked pantry, so if I don’t have a specific meal plan I can always figure something out. However, this can get stressful having to decide every single day what is for dinner. My ideal, which I was doing prior to the twins arrival, was to make a 2-week meal plan and make sure I had all necessary ingredients. It wasn’t set in stone that we had to eat things on the day they were planned for, but I at least had a good plan and knew I had all ingredients on hand.
I’m one of those who does like to cook, but I don’t always like the drudgery of cooking dinner day in and day out. It’s just not as much fun as planning a fancy dinner party or baking up holiday treats. Time and money play a part, of course, but also it’s the monotony and necessity of it all. The fun goes out the window when you have to do it every. single. night. But, unlike my pre-kids days when I could apparently subsist on nothing but cereal for dinner M-F, I plan my meals 2 weeks at a time (so I do one major trip on one Sunday, and one minor grocery trip for perishables the following Sunday) and keep on cooking. every. single. night.
Jen W says
I truly think family meal time is important and since we’re striving to remove the abundance of chemicals from our diet, home cooking has become more important. BUT- as two full-time working parents we don’t want to sacrifice family time for complex recipes and tons of dishes to wash! We need meals that are on the table (start to finish) within 30 minutes or less. Often recipes sound like they’ll be quick and easy but I underestimate the time it takes to prep the ingredients or other hidden time sucks. And we really need meals that are easy to make multiples of and freeze. We always make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce and keep it in the freezer- the recipe I use is quick and I can make it while the pasta water heats (hello time suck) and cooks, and then we have three super quick & easy meals for the coming weeks….but I need more of those recipes other than spaghetti! And now we had to switch responsibilities, which gets my husband home first, so I need a fail-proof system to make sure he knows what’s on the meal plan and where the recipe is…otherwise it doesn’t get started before I get home with the kiddo and the craziness begins.
Here’s what’s been working very well for me for the last year, since we moved.
I check our weekly flyers and base our meals around the cheapest fresh vegetables. I create a weekly menu (cooking once every other day) and make the shopping list from that. I rarely have to run out mid-week for a forgotten item, and it’s nice having the mains and sides written out for me when I go to cook. If a certain animal product is particularly inexpensive, I buy more and freeze portions.
Meals are vegetables with some sort of potato, pasta or rice, along with fish, poultry/beef, eggs, beans/lentils/nuts. I also make soup every day. For drinking we offer the children water, milk or V8. The night before I shop, I’ll use up whatever is left in the fridge or make a pizza with onions and frozen spinach. Usually my fridge is very empty by shopping day. That gives me a sense of calm and order.
I have one recipe book that I compiled myself from recipes we all like. I have a feel for which dish to use depending what type of foods are on sale. It’s been a trial-and-error thing that is finally paying off, by letting me go somewhat on autopilot. At the front of the book is a list of staples that I can look through when compiling my shopping list.
I cook after the children come home from school and almost every night we all eat together at the table.
I’ve been learning to let the children eat what they need and not pressure types or amounts of food. Sometimes it helps to get them involved by choosing which vegetable from the flyers they want that week. I would like them to be more involved in the shopping and preparation but right now I cook while they nap or do homework, so I’ll wait for when they’re a little older.
Family meals are a bit challenging – because not only is my husband allergic to fish, milk, and beans – he’s also very picky. So if I want to try a new recipe, odds are he’s not going to eat it. Luckly I love some of his staple dishes – but he ends up cooking more often, because I’m not sure what to make for him! Or sometimes I’ll just cook for myself, and he’ll eat something else. We try to sit down together, but sadly, one of us watches the baby while the other eats, and then we switch. He’s 7 months old now, though, so hopefully once we get past purees we’ll be able to let him feed himself and sit down together!
I do love the idea of family dinners, however the reality is that I end up spending an hour prepping and cooking something that my kids barely even want to taste. Also, my husband very rarely gets home before the kids go to bed so that leaves just me eating the meal that I’ve spent all this time on. It’s no wonder it’s difficult to motivate myself to cook each night.
Jenni Friedman says
We have family dinners almost every night. My girls are 6 1/2 and 8 1/2 and needless to say, they are not very relaxing. My younger daughter does not eat much at all (and the list seems to get smaller each day of what she will actually eat). My older daughter is a great eater and will try almost anything but she has a hard time sitting still. Often times, the girls sit with my husband and I long enough to tell us a bit about their day and then they ask to leave the table. Sometimes we have them stay until we are all done but honestly, some days my husband and I find the extra time at the table alone to be a nice break. I am wishful for a day when the girls would be happy with the food on the table and to spend more time talking to us.
Donni O'Grady says
I am probably not who you would really like to have comment but, I am a stay at home mother of a two kids (6&11). I am very fortunate to have time and energy to always have dinner on the table at 6pm every evening. I grew up in a home where that was the norm and even while I was working out of the home for my oldests first 8 years we always had that routine. Family dinners are going well here and I think that is because I encourage feedback. I rotate about 20 main dishes and always include salad or relish (meaning cut raw veggies) and then a main vegetable. I have learned about roasting veggies in EVOO (hubby and I love that)but because one kid prefers raw broccoli dipped in ranch and the other only likes it steamed in the microwave I take the extra 15 seconds to separate out theirs and everyone is happy. On the occasion that we have mashed potatoes the one child who doesn’t like them gets a piece of whole grain bread. I have a cashew pork stir fry that I make but the kids feel the sauce is too strong so I make up their plates prior to adding the sauce. I plan my meals a week ahead and use a magnet system to remind myself of what is being made on what day. (my magnets stick to the fan/light cabinet over stove) I sometimes prep veggies etc. earlier in the day but generally I start on meals one hour ahead. In the beginning of parenting we probably had about 7 meals in rotation and ate out 2 times a week. Now we only eat out once a week maybe and it’s usually pizza. It’s not because money is tight it is because I took time to find good quality recipes and figured out how to add more fresh whole foods to our meals and now we would rather eat at home. I do try also to have variety in the main dish- beef, chicken, fish, pork. I tried substituting ground turkey for beef in our old favs and I could not fool my family-they did not like the turkey. So after about 6 or seven tries I have let go of trying to use the turkey. But I do have a limit of beef only once a week and I stick to my limit. I am not a short order cook in our home but I do try to prepare the same foods but maybe in a different way so everyone is happy.
I don’t mind the cooking, it’s the idea of what to cook that is daunting some weeks. I menu plan and try and shop weekly for what we need but sometimes I feel short on ideas to mix things up a bit and not have the same thing every week. Side dishes tend to be an after thought for me too. I always have some sort of frozen veggie around for a quick veggie, but I don’t really like making salads.
shannon recktenwald says
We try to eat together and are successful about 50% of the time. It’s hard because I have 3 teenage boys and each of their activities are different. Also, my husband and I eat vegetarian while the kids eat meat so invariably there are some times when I end up making 2 meals or at the very least 1 extra dish. I love to cook.
Family dinners are fairly non-existent at my house right now. My husband and I both work full time and have a 1 year old and a 4 year old. Usually we feed the kids at night and then eat dinner ourselves once they are in bed. The only way I have been able to manage a full meal for all of us is to use the crock pot. But even then I usually don’t plan ahead enough to do it often. We usually manage breakfast together on the weekends. That’s the best I can do for now. It’s hard w/ little ones! I would love the cookbook. I have started reading your book by the way. Haven’t made it far yet but it’s very interesting. I need to have my husband read it. He gets very frustrated when the kids don’t want to eat something.
I cook 4 nights a week and make extra so that we have enough for left overs that can be reheated for two other nights (that we are really busy) and then we usually go out one night/week. I like to try new recipes and so does my family.
I like to cook. I hate making weekly meal plans. But I do it anyway because I find if I don’t plan meals prior to grocery shopping, the stress of coming up with something on the fly every night makes me crabby. I’ve considered making my weekly meal plans more “systematic” (e.g. a go-to repertoire of weekly plans), but then it’s hard to base your meals with what’s on sale at the store that week and you still end up spending time to adjust them around the week’s crazy schedule so what’s the point of being systematic. I’ve found my meals have changed post-kids, not because I’m afraid they won’t eat them, but because I just don’t have the energy for complex recipes anymore. I try to “morph” leftovers into another meal at least once a week, with varying degrees of success. (Some weeks it feels like I’m the only one who will eat the leftovers because I don’t want it to go to waste.) I get tired of pasta; I wish I had more meals like pasta that are as simple to make and equally loved by the kids. I try to keep a freezer full of extra meals, meat or poultry stocked up from sales (but curse myself at about 4 p.m. when what I had “planned” for dinner that night is still solidly frozen because I forgot to get it out to thaw ahead of time.) I feel like I am pretty good at making healthy dinners for my family, but fall short on healthier breakfasts and lunches.
We do pretty well with lots of homemade meals. What I struggle with the most is that my 7 year old still doesn’t like many foods. I keep serving only meal family style, but he is picky. He even told me that he wished he liked as many foods as his younger sister. And that came from him, because I never mention his pickiness or compare them. Anyway, that is where we are at.
Family dinners are going pretty good considering I have a three year old and 9 month old twins that I often bring to the store with me! I try to meal plan on Sundays and do the shopping as a family. We struggle to make a variety of healthy meals because my husband and I are picky eaters. I’m trying to get my husband to trust in the DOR. I think if we ate more fruits and vegetables as a family he might relax a little more.
Dinners are going pretty well for us. I feel lucky that as a SAHM I have more time to focus on this than other folks, and I generally enjoy cooking/eating. But the meal planning sure does take an awful long time! I find a tool like plantoeat.com really helpful in staying organized.
Thanks for the opportunity for the cookbook!
I make dinner almost every evening but I have a really hard time coming up with new recipes to make. This lack of creativity in the kitchen transfroms cooking into something stressful.
I am a part time working mom who (used to )enjoy cooking. I am no Julia Child, but I am a good home cook. (my family & friends seem to enjoy my food). I have a dozen or so standards and am open to expanding my regular go to meals. I enjoy cooking until the boys 10 & 12 realize what I am making because that is when the complaining begins. Even when I make stuff they like, there is always a comment on where I went wrong. The whining is a motivation killer. . .I have stopped meal planning and trying new recipes it doesn’t seem worth the effort. I hope to get my groove back in the new year. In the meantime my husband is very good with the compliments and has made more of an effort to clean up. I think he fears the complaining will drive me from the kitchen. 🙂
I am a full time working mom and do enjoy cooking. In order to have homemade meals at the table, I have fallen into a routine of meal planning, making my shopping list, going grocery shopping and doing a lot of meal prep on Sunday. My daughter is 1.5 years old and pretty much eats whatever we eat. Unfortunately, she is starving by 5:30 which seems too early for my husband and I to eat dinner. We typically give her leftovers of our dinner from the night before and at least one of us will sit with her while she eats her dinner.
I am very much looking forward to bringing her into the kitchen with me to help cook and also to her having a little bit of a later dinner/bed time so that we can all eat together.
Susan S says
We have family dinner every night. Sometimes it’s leftovers or whatever you can find – but we always sit down at the table together in the evening.
Melissa B says
We have family dinner most nights. We eat out once a week, and have a couple of nights where it’s not the whole family, but we try hard to sit down together as much as we can. It was going well until recently when my 3 year old decided that she hates all vegetables and meat. I have been trying to change up the offerings, but so frequently find myself resorting to something high in carbs with a side of baby carrots. Not exactly making strides in winning her over on the vegetable front. I actually decided this week that my New Year’s resolution for 2015 is going to be making a new meal at least once a week, whether it’s trying something totally new or taking something that we usually buy frozen and making it from scratch. Wish me luck!
My daughter is 1 1/2; before she was 6 months old, we did a lot of takeout and eating out on weeknights, but when she started eating, we decided to be dedicated to family dinner. I like cooking, but I don’t meal-plan long ahead – that just doesn’t work with my personality, or our dedication to using the produce in the CSA box we get every 2 weeks. (I’ll shop for a recipe ahead and then not want to make/eat it and wind up wasting food!) I try to maintain a well-stocked pantry and freezer, and then pick up meats at the neighborhood store or the butcher by my office a few times a week. I try to use things in the freezer or leftovers and change it up by adding a fresh veggie from the CSA box or a homemade cheese sauce or making it into tacos or something (I hate eating the same thing again the next day!). Another key thing is having a list of go-to recipes that I print out and stick on the fridge, including some that I can make just from things I always have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. On days I’m home, I’ll meal-plan at nap time, and on days I work, I’ll meal-plan at lunch.
We have to squeeze in between getting home from work and my daughter’s 7:30 bedtime. On the days I work, I really need a meal that I can get on the table in 30 minutes, and I’d like to have more non-pasta, pantry-friendly, quick meal ideas. I try to avoid processed foods and refined grains and sugars, so that further complicates my meals – I’ll sometimes cook some whole grains or beans one evening and use them in a few dishes during the week. I’ve tried the slow-cooker, but I haven’t found any recipes that I can put in before I leave for work, and have actually taste good (not overcooked) at dinnertime 10 hours later. I’ve asked for a pressure-cooker for Christmas in hopes that will help with getting meals on the table faster!
We do family dinners nearly every night, mostly homemade, usually healthy. But, I have fallen into the practice of making something separate (but easy/simple) for my son most nights. I don’t want to limit what I can cook for my husband and I, so my picky 6 year old can choose what we’re having, or a smart dog, quesadilla, etc. depending on what I feel like fixing. So not the perfect family dinner, but certainly low stress, and at least we eat together.
Love this article topic. Family meals are something I have personally been working really hard on for 2 reasons. #1 – I am motivated by memories of childhood and the benefits and positive habits around food it taught me, and #2 – I have 3 year old with Celiac Disease where his diet must be optimized. So big personal pressures for producing regular healthy meals, but life does get in the way, like right now, we are helping a friend who was in a severe car accident, the holidays are coming and my husband is a shift worker. After almost a year of fantastic successes and even more so fantastic failures I have developed an approach that works and keeps my self induced feelings of guilt and failure at a low.
1.) Meal Planning – takes off the stress and has saved us $50.00 + a week!!!
2.) Only have meat/fish on the menu 3 times a week – so when I’m feeling pressed for time or not in the mood to cook I can easily swap menu items around to suit my mood/needs
3.) Always have an “easy out back-up” meal like French toast with yogurt and fruit salad
4.) Use simple recipes like fajitas and soups or crock pot meals, easy to do and can change up the ingredients so you can always have something different
5.) Don’t sweat the small stuff – when it is French toast, yogurt and fruit salad I don’t worry, all the food groups are covered, everything is portioned appropriately and the kids are thrilled so I am happy and less stressed! 🙂
And that’s how I’ve tackled the family meal deal. I feel better for having done so.
Family meals are a priority for our family. With both me and my husband working full-time, and three kids 5 and under, we sit down together every night, and eat out once a week or every two weeks. Its up there with the priority of play time with the kids each night, and keeping to their 7pm baths and bedtimes. It is a lot of work because I have found that to actually have meals to cook and those which can be prepared within 30 min or less, I have to plan a weeks worth of meals at a time. I shop once a week for those meals, and they typically consist of meat 2 nights a week, fish 1-2 nights a week and meatless the rest of the nights. We have a set of “go to” easy meals that are heavy in the rotation. It is definitely a struggle to make sure we cook from scratch more often than not, and it helps using the crockpot for some meals, and then or just having a meat or fish lightly seasoned with baked potatoes, steamed or raw veggies, but there are nights when we make bacon and eggs or tuna or egg salad and have applesauce or raw veggies on the side. It pays off to do all the planning, though, and I am happy that we are eating healthier than just pulling processed foods from the freezer to heat each night. My current goals are to try to use more of what is in the pantry and cook chicken or beef for the week’s meals on a Sunday and then have that help with cutting prep time during the week. I’d also like to rely less on Bisquick pancakes and veggie burgers and hot dogs as they are in our rotation for those nights when quick/simple/mindless cooking is required!
Hi, i have a 3 yr old and a 7 month old and work 4 days a week. it is tough to get home at 5:30-6 and cook and eat before we have to get kids ready for bed at 7:30. I have max 30 minutes, usually less because my daughter comes home acting like she is starving. I used to like cooking, and still do on the weekends, but the compressed schedule and craziness when i get home takes the fun out of it. Not to mention, after bedtime I have to clean up and make lunches which usually puts me at 9-9:30 pm.
on the good days what has worked is buying protein on sale and keeping it in our freezer. then before i grocery shop on Sunday i decide what protein i’m going to use and plan meals around that. i also try to keep some prepared food (meatballs, stew etc in the freezer) and some dry pre-made dry rubs/marinades in the pantry. Sunday I shop with my list (it is a disaster if i don’t have a list) and come home and clean and prep all the fruit and some of the veggies i use for the week. i’ve also sometime broke down and paid up for the pre-cut fruit/veggies. i also always keep some sort of lettuce or mix in the fridge because throwing together a salad is quick. my daughter likes dipping long cruchy romaine leaves in honey mustard lately. i’ve also really tried to follow your advice on offering lots of types of food on her plate and letting her pick what to eat rather than bargaining and negotiating her to eat certain things to be rewarded for others. that has helped speed up mealtime a little and creates a little less stress. she still cries for a snack while i’m making dinner and asks what she has to eat to get a popsicle, but life is slowly getting easier… when we have a little more time, she helps me and enjoys that (although by “help” i really mean she just “tastes” everything).
I am a 40 year old mother of a sweet little 8 year old girl. I love to cook, but rarely find the time to do it. I am at that age where I am not only taking care of my own little family of 3, but have also become responsible for taking care of my aging parents. I work a full time job that is very demanding and often requires overtime.
My father has brain cancer, so the amount of work required to keep things going for them is truly overwhelming. One area that I am heavily involved in is his healthcare. We started working with a Nutritionist who specializes in GBM (Gliobrastoma multiforme brain cancer) and that has opened my eyes to many things we need to be doing to help my daddy’s body heal. We’ve redone their pantry and fridge…that has taken a lot of effort…but I feel is worth it.
Here is what I have learned and want to share here – Whole Foods Market has a concierge service. I use them now to help me manage my parent’s groceries. I email them my list – I have everything in sections and have my stated ‘goals’ within each section (for example, for meat we want organic and grass-fed because the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in those meats is 1-1 versus 1-30 in the grain-fed/conventional meats. Omega-6 increase inflammation…which in turn fosters tumor growth). They do the research, they get all my groceries, and I just go pick them up. It has been a true blessing to me. The fee for this service is nominal (depends on what I spend, but it will never be more than $15/shop).
It is sad that it has taken a cancer diagnosis in my family to make me wake up to the food crisis in this country. My next step is to get my little family eating better – now that I have this knowledge I can no longer continue to eat conventional foods. Not only do I want to cook homemade meals…. I want to cook with WHOLE foods (non-gmo, organic, grass-fed, no preservatives, free of hormones, free of antibiotics, no added sugar, no added MSG, no nitrates, no artificial flavors/colors, whole grains, etc). Will it be more expensive? YES. Will it require more time commitment on my part? YES. Will it improve our health? I whole-heartedly believe it will.
Thank you for this blog. I have been subscribed for many years and have gotten great ideas. My daughter is a wonderful eater…been eating good since she was a little baby…but it took intentionality…keep up the good work.
for anyone who may be struggling with cancer (not necessarily brain cancer), I do recommend Nutritional Solutions: http://www.nutritional-solutions.net/
Family dinner obstacles – the obvious one is time, once I pick up the girls from preschool and get home, there is only about an hour until the girls are sooooooo hungry they are about to die!
Am I satisfied with your meal repertoire – depends on the week. After about a month, I do get bored and try to mix it up but with two 5 and and under there are some limits of what I can serve. For instance, if I do not serve Red Beans and Rice once a week I do get yelled at.
Ease of preparation – absolutely necessary at all times. Even during the weekends I do not have a lot of time to prepare food and sometimes even less time.
On organization and execution I find that what works for me is to create a list of dinners for the week at the beginning. That way when I am tired, I do not have to think about what is for dinner, I just look at my menu. And if what I had planned to cook that night doesn’t sound good, I can switch it out with a different day. But some weekends, I do not have the time to plan menus, which makes for a hectic week.
All and all, I do enjoy making meals each night, it helps to make sure I know what I am feeding myself and my family. Also, I really do not like going out and spending money on something that I can make for cheaper and taste better at home. But, having somewhere to gain inspiration on new, easy to make, dinners (including side suggestions) is great to have.
Becca h says
With a 2 yr old and newborn twins,our family meals are very simple. We are able to eat together around the table as a family each night but the meals itself are far from elaborate
Cat Raheem says
I don’t particularly enjoy cooking (though it has grown on me in the past year), but I do it for the knowledge and satisfaction that my family are eating right. I don’t agree that it is the woman/mother’s job, but in or household my husband works long ours at the office whereas I work flexible hours at home, so I’m happy to do it. I also enjoy the planning – making sure everybody has something suitable and is eating a balanced diet. This is particularly difficult, as I’m a vegetarian and my husband only ears halal meat (my son, 19 months, mostly eats halal meat as it’s what’s in the house, but I do often cook him other meats which I don’t serve to my husband. I also cook in bulk, so that if I don’t have the time then I have a nice, homemade meal on hand to defrost. Because of our individual dietary requirements, I have various sizes of tupperware containers for all eventualities (one-portion size usually for me, or family-size of we’re all eating veg, or 1.5 portion size for my husband and son to share, or teeny weeny toddler portions for just my son. My freezer is like a 3D Tetris board! But it’s all worth it to know we’re eating properly. I have never considered feeding my son only a vegetarian diet, but for the first couple of months after weaning I was worried he may not be getting enough protein, as I wasn’t in the habit of planning meals and so it was often quicker and easier to cook something vegetarian.
In short, I enjoy the planning and logistics involved in such a complicated set-up, and there be no point to it if I didn’t actually cook and implement it.
Cat Raheem says
I’d love to have a family meal round the table every evening, but my husband often isn’t home until my son is just going to bed, so it wouldn’t really work. I always make sure I eat every meal with my son, and we try and all sit down together at weekends.
I am actually very glad you posted those quotes and the comments are great to know we are not the only ones with these issues. I work full time and hate to cook. Not dislike I actually despise it. However with a 9 year old picky eater and a newborn I know I need to do more to make healthier meals for my family. I am trying to find ways to make easy meals that I can still manage when I go back to work from maternity leave. I have found your website very helpful and I actually got my 9 year old to eat a spinach salad last night.
Here I am reading a healthy eating blog, and I almost never cook. It isn’t that I can’t cook, or even that I don’t like it. It’s just that my husband likes it more, and he tends to be home earlier than me when I work. (It’s my job to get kids to school & grandma’s house, and pick them up.)
I’m sure my cooking problem is rather unusual: my husband won’t plan meals, and typically leaves the shopping to me. If I plan meals, I must plan to be flexible because my husband doesn’t necessarily agree to cook what I’ve planned. If I don’t plan meals (and keep a few cuts of meat defrosted in the fridge), he’ll throw up his hands & say there’s nothing he can make. If I plan meals & he doesn’t cook them–or something with similar ingredients, food spoils. It makes me sad when it spoils, especially meat, which can be expensive.
Another problem is our 7 & 2-year-old picky eaters. Well, mostly the 2-year-old now. The 7-year-old will eat almost any kind of meat. The 2-year-old will eat cheese, peanut butter & fruit & not much else. (Even bread!)
I have three small children and work part time, my husband full time, so dinner (and other meals) fall to me unless it’s a special occasion. It’s work, just like any other work, with pros and cons. But what I think is missing in a lot of the recent articles that have received national attention, from Marcotte’s piece to Bittman and all in between, is that we HAVE to eat, there is no way around the work, even if the “work” is going through the drive thru and then having to clean up the car (ugh, that smell!.) The history of humanity has revolved around the need to eat and the ingenuity of the the omnivore in solving it. As a society, we seem to think meals should be worked into our lives rather than honor the time it takes to prepare and eat food. How to do this is a big question, but I think it can start in little bits; parents demanding that sports schedules work for family schedules and daycares/preschools schedule in meal and snack times with the social aspect in mind, not just fueling the children. Schools can make sure lunches are allotted enough time and staff to make them enjoyable and comfortable, not a place to slam down food to go play at recess. The examples could go on, but each community could answer it’s own best way to honor the food and time.
So far it’s only my husband and me, but we always sit down at the table and enjoy meals together. Sometimes it’s breakfast, lunch and supper, sometimes it’s one of the three — just depends on when our busy schedules allow us to be together.
Something we plan to continue when two turns into three people!