The title of this post says it all. I hate meal time and as a stay at home mom it’s seriously every 2 hours. Breakfast. Snack. Lunch. Snack. Dinner. Ugh!
I used to love cooking and actually I was really good at it. My bag of tricks, when I met my husband, was pre-packaged taco seasoning and spaghetti sauce…POWDER. Yeah! When his mom came to visit for the first time and cooked a meal she gave me the green onions and told me to cut them up. I actually said “Do you eat the green part or just the white?” When she couldn’t contain her laughter, I realized this guy was never going to marry me if all I had for him was tacos and spaghetti. Yeah yeah, there’s more to a woman than how she can cook. Blah blah. Lets just say, if you can’t cook, you better be a really good kisser!
Fun Fact: I can’t peel a grape in my mouth or tie a cherry stem into a knot using only my tongue.
Fast forward 10 years and 2 children later and I’ve completely fallen apart. I have lost all cooking confidence and creativity. It may because every day at 5:00 is break down time in our house. I can’t be the only mom that considers 5:00 the worst part of the day…or can I? Everyone is crying including myself, eating frozen corn, digging through the pantry for anything that resembles food or grabbing unfinished snack pieces out of the trash (I’m not making that up!) and constantly moving stools about the kitchen. Stools. Constantly. My 18 month old has this thing that he does now where he head butts me in the thigh, puts his arms around my legs and pushes me around the kitchen. Crying of course. This is usually happening while my oldest is eating brown sugar with his fingers or flooding the kitchen “washing dishes”. I swear, that’s true!
My 3 1/2 year old has been introduced to kid food at school so he used to be a Curry Shrimp or Smoked Salmon eater and now basically all he wants is candy. It’s fine. They make organic candy right? I think my kids still eat better than most kids and I’ve stuck to my one-meal dinner table. The kids eat what we’re eating or they don’t eat. My husband had a problem with that for a while, but now we’re over it. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. My oldest had lamb for dinner last night. Maybe because he hadn’t eaten dinner two nights in a row, or maybe because I gave him ketchup. No additional salt added, of course. For those of you who are wondering what I’m complaining about if I managed to cook and serve lamb, it was reheated left overs from my mother-in-law’s visit. If I serve something my kids don’t like my youngest just throws it on the floor for that foster cat and my oldest just says to me “Ok mom, lets talk about this. I get it. I get it. No treats. I’m not eating.”
I have no meal suggestions because I basically cook based on what I feel like eating and everyone else can suck it. My husband will eat anything, God love him! What I can say about cooking in my situation is I have discovered ways to make it easier on myself, after I open the wine bottle of course. One of them is cooking meals that take a long time. The 20-30 minute meal is death for me. A short meal is actually asking for trouble. My kids are biting my ankles at 4:30. It’s better if I can throw something in the oven around 4 or throw a soup on at 3 instead of trying to cram it all into those 30 minutes before dinner time.
I buy most of my veggies in the frozen form and I always check to make sure the only ingredient is the vegetable. Never extra salt. I’m a huge label reader. My rules are the label has to be short because I get bored fast and because my kids have a very short grocery store attention span. If the ingredients are all the same things I would use to make the sauce or soup from scratch then we’re golden. I always get the low sodium or no salt added versions of everything. I could care less about organic, but I do find that the organic products tend to have less ingredients and a lower sodium content so that’s when I buy organic.
Speaking of the whole organic thing, I don’t really buy it. I lived in the Austin, Texas bubble of organic and grass fed and free range. That idea is contagious and I’ll admit it, I was all in, but when I moved to small-town Wisconsin I realized that nobody else really cares. That’s when I started to wonder if it’s really as important as they make it sound. Who knows. I have two kids and two mortgages so organic isn’t really on my radar. If you live in one of those organic-grass fed-free range bubbles, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t buy that way. I’m more concerned about the ingredients than whether or not it’s organic.
I always have macaroni and cheese on hand, I like the Annie’s white cheddar kind. It’s organic, blah blah blah, I think they even have grass fed cow cheese ones. Huh? Whatever! If that floats your boat, be my guest. I just like the flavor of the cheese. It’s not healthy so lets not pretend that it is with all of that organic mumbo jumbo. I often throw in frozen peas and shrimp and the kids dig that. Shrimp is so high in protein they don’t have to eat much to get a good dose. Plus, the peas stick to the shells which makes them easier for little ones to get into their mouths. My preference with macaroni is 100% home made and depending on the day I’m down for that because it’s seriously the best! This one’s my favorite but as long as you can make a roux you can make any kind of macaroni!
Check Wikipedia if you don’t know what a roux is. It’ll give you everything you need to know and way more you don’t care about. Otherwise, equal parts butter and flour will do it.
I also love all of these new pouches of skillet sauces. Check out Campbell’s and Frontera . I don’t like the crock potty home style ones, but otherwise, Yum! Read the ingredients. If you don’t know what it is, don’t buy it. There’s a big movement toward healthy pre-made food and short cuts these days so gone are the days of Hamburger Helper as your only quick meal option.
It’s not like we don’t eat pizza or anything because…uh…we do! And chips too. WITH all of the salt and fat, because otherwise it’s just gross. For most meals we eat healthy and I rarely feed my kids the chips or pizza.
Meals in our house are a hot mess, but I have confidence that I will regain my composure when my kids are older and can either help me in the kitchen or get the heck out of my free-range bubble. It’s either that or I learn how to do that cherry stem thing!