So here's a headline that caught my eye in the Boston Globe today:
What's for Dinner, Mom?
"It sounds like the most benign question, doesn’t it? But figuring out what the heck to make, day in and day out, that will satisfy all those at the table—the carnivores, the vegetarians, the pasta-tarians, —is an enormous stressor for many mothers. If you want to really make mom happy this Sunday, forget the flowers and agree to eat something other than chicken fingers—without complaining."
So dear readers, I'm curious ...
Are you stressed over the whole dinner thing?
And if so, what about it stresses you out?
About a week ago I started another little blog - Daily Bits of Domestic Bliss - in an effort to keep track of my everyday housekeeping tasks. I'm really having fun with it, and I do find it helpful - it serves as a nice reminder and record - but I have to admit, about a day after I started it I had myself a little panic:
Gah, the pressure! My menus are open for public scrutiny!
But so far I think it's been good - this pressure - because it's given me a little nudge to be a bit more creative with our family diet. And goodness knows I needed it!
Because I'm a busy mom, "creative meal planning" can often get pushed aside for other more pressing domestic matters ... things like hygiene, sanity and good sleep. I'm also a creature of habit, which means it's very easy for me to fall into a comfortable rut ... and find myself making pizzas, pasta, burgers and grilled cheese pretty much night after night.
Sure my kids love all that easy stuff, but I want to expose them to a wider varety of foods. I'd like them to enjoy more vegetables and protein choices beyond hot dogs and chicken nuggets. I really want them to appreciate the value of a homemade meal. And I love making meals that please my husband, who works hard all day and truly savors satisfying food at the end of that long day. And by "satisfying" I mean food that fuels both body and soul. It's healthy and balanced - it smells and tastes good - and best of all, it makes us all feel good ... maybe even great!
It's human nature, isn't it? This desire to eat not just for survival, but pleasure? To enjoy what we eat, and how we eat it?
So now that I'm "reporting in" - not only to myself, but my readers as well - I feel all the more motivated to create a week of balanced, nutritious, satsfying meals. I don't want anyone to think I have always been so creative or accomplished in the culinary arts! (Oh my gosh, hardly.) I'm pretty much making this up as I go along.
Of course, not everyone has a blog where they can kick their dinner-planning into gear, but how about teaming up with a friend, or a few friends with whom you can share dinner ideas and support? Get together to exchange recipes and menu plans, etc. Set up email prompts and reminders ... that could be fun!
Or how about posting your menu plan on the fridge and getting the family involved? If you've got it all figured out - they can answer their own question (that inevitable, everyday question) simply by taking a look at the plan. Or if you're stumped for dinner ideas ... put up the empty menu planner and ask for suggestions. Maybe assign each family member their own night to plan (and/or prepare)?
I'm all for finding ways to make dinner less stressful because really, dinner should be a good thing in the shared life of a family. It's not fair if one person's doing all the work, especially if she's also harboring all the stress.
I mean, I'm a full-time mom, so I do handle most of the dinner details myself. I do ask for help though ... I ask for input and ideas. I ask for time (quiet and space) with which to work on my menus, clip my coupons and write out my lists. That may seem silly, but honestly, if I don't seek out that time and tell everyone I'm "working" I don't get it done. I also ask Bill to handle some of the meals (i.e. pizzas or any that involve grilling) and I ask the boys to help with the prep when I need them. And I always ask that those who did not cook, help with the cleanup. I love that time of day when I sit down, maybe with a glass of wine, and watch the table get cleared, the leftovers get put away and the dishwasher get started. That's a really nice "wrap" to my day.
So my final question for you all, because I'm curious and can really use the inspiration:
What are THREE dinners you make for your family?
They can be old favorites or new, whatever you'd like ... and if you have a recipe to share, I'd love that too! (And if I use it on my blog, I'll give credit to you.)
So for now I'm working on what we eat ... soon I'll turn a thoughtful eye on how we eat. As in ~ involving the kids, setting the family table, creating a certain environment and the ritual of dinner itself. More on all that in a bit.
Well, thank you all for stopping by and considering my rambles and questions. Until next time, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...
I'll be back again very soon!