The dreaded question that inevitably comes up every day: What’s for dinner? I did not anticipate that one of the most frustrating parts of parenting would be dinnertime. Not only do you have to decide what to make EVERY DAY, but you also have to appease super picky eaters whose palates change like the wind. Kids also do not simply sit and eat dinner. They want to get up. They want to play and sing and spit and fall off their chairs (on accident AND on purpose). No one told me that dinnertime would be this difficult. I feel like there should have been a memo. Now that I am very well aware of the dread that awaits me come 4 pm, I have taken some measures to make it a little less stressful.
Yeah, I know, everyone says to meal plan. I rolled my eyes at this for a long time. Who has time to meal plan? It seems so time-consuming. It’s not. I do it in bed on my phone on Wednesday and Thursday nights. We order our groceries on Friday for pickup. I highly suggest ordering your groceries. I can understand how some people really want to pick out their own produce or use grocery shopping as a type of “vacation,” though. I keep a list in my notebook app for every day of the week. I brainstorm five dinners. I’m not committing them to a day. I’m kinda-sorta committing to making that meal the next week because I will use the list to order groceries. I reserve one day for what we call a “skillet meal,” which is one of those frozen meals you just heat up. The other available day is open for take-out. Some weeks, skillet meals and take out happen. Some weeks, we decide to make breakfast for dinner or simply have sandwiches. My meal plan is simply a ready-made suggestion list for which I have all the ingredients. I involve my kids. I will tell them what is on the “suggestion list,” and they can pick what they want that night. I also ask for suggestions for the suggestion list from them. Warning – it’s usually “pizza.” The meal plan, aka suggestion list, has made the answer to “What’s for dinner?” much easier. It has also saved us money because I only have to go to the grocery store once. We also eat take-out less because we would often just order food when we couldn’t figure out what to eat.
Make What You Want To Eat
I used to make completely separate meals, one for parents and one for the kids—my kids like the typical kid meals; pizza, mac, cheese, burgers, etc. I can get down with these things but not every night or even every week. What I am currently doing is making meals that adults will enjoy that I can set aside parts that kids will eat. For example, if I want to make a beef and broccoli meal, I set some meat and broccoli off to the side before adding any sauces. The kids then will have steak, broccoli, and rice, while adults will get the full enjoyment of beef and broccoli. I often serve them an adult size spoonful of what we are having first. If they say they don’t like it, I will offer them the “kid-friendly” option. Below are three recipes that are quick to make and easy to set aside a “kid-friendly” portion.
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole – My kids are not a fan of cabbage, but I am. I will set aside the cooked ingredients before the cabbage is added for them. I will melt cheese on top and also add crumbled Doritos for the kids.
Sausage and Zucchini – Rice is a favorite in our house. I can put almost anything on rice, and my kids will eat it. Everything except zucchini that is. I enjoy this recipe on top of rice. I add red pepper flakes to this dish for the adult portion. The kids will get rice, heated unseasoned turkey sausage, and a choice of vegetable (usually carrot sticks or peas).
I have altered the above recipes to my own taste, and they continue to evolve. It’s easy to make them your own to fit your family’s needs. Dinnertime can be unpredictable. Do yourself a favor by making a suggestion list, shopping for the ingredients, and taking the guesswork out of the inevitable “Mom, what’s for dinner?”.