You make over a thousand meals a year, not including snacks. Prior to parenthood, when every night was date-night, a healthy dinner meant leaving the car keys at home and walking for take-out. Now that every meal requires a booster seat, eating out… not so fun. Not so easy on the waistline or wallet either. But standing at the stove day in and day out… oy.
There is a U in EDUCATE.
It seems Frank Underwood eats the best ribs in Washington every other day while Claire’s been living on nothing but clean water since she was the Princess Bride. But that’s okay because: no kids. Life before kids means eating whatever you want, whenever you want, and never having to say you’re sorry. And then, pregnancy hits, and suddenly you’re looking at everything under a microscope (if you can stomach looking at it at all). Now that you’ve got an extra mouth or two to feed, that pre-kiddo diet is, well, in the past.
Even if you love cooking, and especially if you don’t, making all those meals can get tiresome. Fast. But today is Food Revolution Day peeps, so it’s time to free the foodie within. Before total anarchy. Here’s how to switch it up to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
- Have each munchkin choose one dinner per week. More about that here. Half the battle is coming up with the ideas, so this’ll get you off the hook for some of them.
- Check out online planners like The Six O’Clock Scramble. The monthly fee’s cheaper than a last-minute-za-run and you get a weekly plan with a grocery-shopping list. The menu can be customized and the list gets updated… it pretty much takes ALL the work out of menu planning.
- Don’t be slaves to the menu plan. When your calendar says soup but the mercury reads twenty degrees, listen to the universe… bbq time! Also leave a day or two unplanned to take a walk on the wild side. Spontaneity + “STARVING” children = Inspiration.
- Rein in that wild child by eating the exact same breakfast during the week. Ours is oatmeal with applesauce, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon. Even in summer. Sure, it gets boring. But that most important meal of the day’s always healthy, it’s one less food decision, dials down the mad morning rush, and our boys never complain since it’s so routine. Pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and anything other than oatmeal is reserved for weekends or a superstar breakfast-for-dinner.
- Brown bag the same five lunches (a different one for each day). This was something spun-off of our seven-year-old’s request because he no longer wanted to spend every morning looking forward to WowButter only to open his lunch bag and discover tuna. He wanted WB every day – we drew the “too-many-reps” line. So it’s been eight months of Monday roast beef sandwiches, Tuesday WowButter bagels, Wednesday turkey wraps, Thursday grilled cheese sticks, and Friday quesadillas. All yum and no thought required.
- Subscribe to food blogs. We’ve got too many faves to list, but email us if you’d like suggestions.
- Get following. We were late to the party, but finally discovered the joy of Twitter. Who knew? Only about five hundred million people over the past seven years. Yeah, we’ve been parents for seven years now, so… sounds about right. Did you know you can
stalkfollow almost anyone? Take The Food Network, for example. Tons of tweets. Tons of ideas. Pretty much twenty-four-seven. Gold.
- Skim cookbooks cover to cover. We use interweb recipes for convenience but sometimes just want to old school it and look at pretty pictures. When our boys were in their Ratatouille phase they loved cookbooks more than Dr. Seuss. Especially when it led us into the kitchen.
- Cook extra so there’s always something in the freezer for leftovers night. To take this a step further, head to SupperSolved in anticipation of survival mode. And when life gets in the way and there’s nothing stocked up, there’s no shame in PB&Jing it.
- Try one new recipe every month. Bonus points if it’s got a brand new ingredient.
- Order in, dine out, or pick up once a week. Everyone needs at least one night off and it’s great to expose your youngsters to food you’d never pull off à la maison. Sushi/Pho/Dim Sum anyone?
Not every meal has to be from scratch. But not every meal has to be KD either. The fastest way to a creative outlet is to embrace a chore. And we all know the way to anyone’s heart… works even better when we’re talking baked goods. In someone else’s wise words: If you bake it, they will come.
Email us any questions and feedback!