I don’t know what it’s like in your home but in ours dinner time is somewhat of a chore. Or at least it’s become that way. I remember a time when I really enjoyed meal planning, grocery shopping and preparing delicious and nutritious foods. Then I had kids. ha!
But seriously, I have one insanely plain eater (read: nothing too saucy, too flavourful, to chunky or lumpy, and not even a hint of spice), one with allergies (no wheat, gluten or dairy), and one who’s just ridiculously picky and would live off of chicken fingers if I let him. I don’t.
Couple all of those things with a mama (yours truly) who is bent on making sure they eat healthy. So there is kale in everything, flax seed in everything that doesn’t contain kale and quinoa, well they just assume they’re eating it even in their pudding. (They’re not, that was avocado….bwahaha!)
I’ll be honest and say they’re not the most fun bunch to cook for! They don’t get super excited when I create a new dish but rather poke around hesitantly and take big sniffs to ensure its safety. They don’t run to the dinner table with enthusiasm but rather ask, “What’s for dinner?” with a certain amount of disdain and a hope that their mind can will it to be chicken fingers. Again.
Dinner, in this season of our life, has also become a bit of a rushed affair. I work most days and between all of the boys we have something after school most every day of the week. So we rush in at 4:30 and unless I’ve made something in the crock pot we just fly around for the next hour preparing and then shovel it in cause we’re all starving.
The bottom line is I wasn’t enjoying our dinners and neither were the kids. I knew that I wanted to make some changes but I wasn’t exactly sure where to start. So I jotted down a few things I didn’t like and some ideas I had as to how we could change them. Here are some of the things that were bothering me.
- Everything was too rushed from prep to eating to leaving the table.
- Making dinner had become a chore simply to keep us alive, not something to be enjoyed.
- Kids weren’t helping in any way but rather showed up,
complainedate, and rushed to clear their plates, give a quick hug and thanks and scurried off.
- When the whole thing was over I was left with another half hour of clean up. (Hubs is home late and not around for weekday dinners)
- I was bored with ‘kid friendly’ food and our staple recipes.
- I wasn’t happy with the way we were treating our food and not recognizing how thankful we should be for it.
It’s a big list and I’m not setting out to tackle it all in one day. I know if I do that I’ll likely end up frustrated at it not working. So I started out by setting my expectations fairly low and kept things simple with just a few changes the first day.
First things first, I bought a new cook book! I know, I know, I usually find most of my recipes online too but when I saw Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest book It’s All Good at the grocery store I knew, that after just a few flipped pages, that I needed to have it.
She has a beautiful philosophy on food, on the ingredients we use, on eating simply and nutritionally AND making it taste good. I was in!
It was amazing how one new and beautiful cookbook could inspire me to make delicious food. The pictures are gorgeous, the writing delightful and hello? Have you seen Gwyneth Paltrow lately? If that’s 40 and this is how she eats – sign me up!
Next thing to conquer was the enjoyment of the preparation which, to be honest, came quite easily when you’re following a gorgeous recipe and using fresh ingredients. The only flaw? I was alone. So, I summoned one of the kids to help and he happily obliged. So I’ve decided that I’m going to have one child help me create a meal from start to finish just once a week. Cause trust me, everything takes longer when you’ve added a child so more than once a week just wouldn’t be realistic for us.
It’s really amazing how kids interact with food when you let them. I had always baked with the boys when they were little and now if they want cookies or brownies they can whip them up on their own but we’d never actually cooked together. But give a boy a sharp knife and a cutting board and they are IN! Let him pick fresh basil and thyme right off the plant and cooking becomes fun! Talk about how God gave us so many foods with different smells, tastes, textures and colours and even our cooking becomes thoughtful and honouring and we become so much more thankful for it!
So that’s what we’ve conquered in our kitchen so far this week. We’ve still got a ways to go and some things to learn but even just these few changes have helped me to enjoy the art of cooking again!
Come back tomorrow and I’ll share some pictures and the recipes me and the munchkin crafted. And devoured! Everyone without complaining!
Dinner win? I think so.