SNYDER: Dinner for one
No one prepares mothers for one of, if not the most difficult part, of raising a family.
It’s not the kids not taking no for an answer, nor is it the pile of dirty diapers and mountains of laundry, the tantrums or even the constant worry of something crazy happening (hello, pandemic?).
Above all, for me, it’s all the cooking, all the planning to cook and all the trying to find the deals to make the cooking cheaper.
I’m finding that feeding a family of five is just about as difficult as attempting to do a somersault past the age of 30 — nearly impossible — and it leaves you with a headache and regret.
My kids have a motto: “Snack all day, dinner no way.”
In a typical week, I spend hours on the weekend leafing through the Food Network magazine, checking out Chrissy Teigen’s latest cookbook, using the Yummly app and searching for recipes on Allrecipes.com. I create a meal plan and jot down a lengthy grocery list, divided by section of the store: produce, meats, pantry, dairy, breads, frozen, misc.
If I’m really on top of things, I’ll take the time to create a Clicklist. If not, I mask up and go Krogering.
I leave my coupons in the car every single time, decide I’ll need them again next time, forget them again, and by then, they are expired. Kroger, stop sending me paper coupons and just add them o my account; you know those are useless in my hands.
Once I arrive back at the abode, I drag all the groceries in, trying not to let the toddler run out next to the street because he loves to see loud trucks. Everything gets safely stored away before the dog can rummage through it, and I am ready for the week. That part feels good.
Then, of course, there’s the cooking left to do. After a long day at work, I get to come home, walk into the perfectly clean kitchen and get started with my freshly sharpened knives.
Also, Jeeves is there ready as my sous chef.
Ha! I meant I get to come home and clean up all the snack bowls, milk-laden cups and last night’s disgusting casserole dish soaking in the sink before I begin doing anything.
And, there’s no Jeeves, just three children in the other room who can’t get along with one another and the dog that looks at me like I’m crazy as I talk angrily to myself about how we don’t have the necessary funds to get dinner catered every night.
Whew, I sound like Loreiai Gilmore. All of that makes it rather hard to prepare that delicious home-cooked meal with love.
My meal planning takes into account everyone’s likes and dislikes. I try to have at least one thing on the menu each night that will be appealing to the children.
The husband can always scavenge later if he doesn’t like it, and he dares not say if he doesn’t. I’m trying my best here, and he knows it.
For example, last week’s menu included homemade pizza, slow-roasted pork tenderloin with potatoes, carrots and spoon bread, red chicken curry with veggies and rice, Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden copycat recipe) and orecchiette pasta with broccoli and sausage.
I was very pleased with these selections. Pleased until dinner begins that is.
Common sayings heard at the dinner table by my older children :
• “What is this?”
• “This has green stuff in it?”
• “Too spicy.”
• “Is it supposed to taste like that?”
We’ll include my all-time favorite “Can I have cereal?” I mistakenly said, just one day, in a moment of weakness, “If you don’t like what I make for dinner, you can just eat cereal.” Well, of course my child remembers every single thing I ever say, so it’s a common question heard as the plate is placed before them. The youngest simply pushes the dish away and says “Disgusting. Can I have a grain bar?”
Now, all the parenting magazines will tell you, keep offering healthy, whole balanced meals to your children, and eventually, they will enjoy them.
Either I haven’t waited long enough or it’s a complete and total lie and I’m about to file a lawsuit.
They should just say the truth instead.
You will spend lots of time in your kitchen and you’ll chop lots of onions and touch a lot of raw meat, and you’ll probably get burned a time or two to make dinner for yourself, and yourself alone to enjoy.
Just give the children macaroni and peanut butter toast for every meal. They’ll survive and it will help you survive, too.
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