Monday, November 15, 2010

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

Dinner is the most stressful time of day in my house. Husband and the kids often get home from school between 5:30 and 6. I am almost never home before 6:45. By that point, everybody is tired, hungry and at least a little bit crabby. Nobody has had any time to his or herself, and everybody is already thinking about what they have to do to get ready for tomorrow. The last thing anyone wants to do is tackle dinner. So, in an (apparently vain) effort to make this part of the day less stressful, I meal plan.

Every weekend I figure out all of the meals we are going to eat for the week. On Thursday, I look at what is on sale at Jewel and find recipes (preferably make-ahead or slow cooker recipes) that incorporate sale items or what we already have in the house. Then I make a grocery list. On Friday or Saturday, I go shopping and buy all of the items we need for the week. And on Sunday, I put together (to the extent I can) all of the dinners we are going to have that week.

And I hate it. I get very little pleasure from trying to figure out what we’ll want to eat in four days. Or from trying to adapt a recipe to work in a slow cooker. And I certainly could find better things to do with my time than chopping, cooking and assembling four meals every Sunday. I do it because it is the only way my family isn’t going to be eating cold cereal for dinner every night.

But sometimes I wonder if it is worth it. Many nights the kids eat only a few bites of dinner or push it away entirely. Certainly Husband doesn’t care. If left to his own, Husband would eat cold cereal for dinner without complaint. But Husband is also the guy I caught eating Chef Boyardee ravioli straight out of the can. And as a mom, I believe I have an obligation to provide my kids with a warm, nutritious dinner no matter how good their other two (daycare-provided) meals were.

And so I feel stuck. I can’t not pre-make dinners (this is how I know husband will feed them cold cereal), but I’d like an easier process. Do any of you moms out there have any dinner secrets they want to share? Any super-easy recipes Husband can whip together while managing two cranky children?  We've started a collection under the discussion tab of our Facebook page.  Please add your own family favorites!

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