I want our family to have a family dinner every night. What I find is that what one child will eat, the other will not. Shockingly, my children don't want to eat vegetables. I don't want to subsist on grilled cheese every night in order to appease my children. So trying to find something that works for everyone is unbelievably difficulty. Trying to make dinner a peaceful event is so hard - and it's so much harder when you have picky eaters.
Today I decided that I was going to come up with a plan. No more standing around in the kitchen, flipping through a cookbook trying to figure out what I could possibly feed my family that wouldn't result in tears from someone.
I headed to my local library and checked out a copy of The Family Dinner by Laurie David.
One of the suggestions that really resonated with me was setting up a weekly dinner schedule. With two small children who crave routine and a family schedule that is often quite hectic, this seemed like just the answer for us. I enlisted my partner in crime, my darling husband, to help me come up with a game plan. We drafted a menu that afforded us some flexibility, but also appeased the kids.
On Sundays we always have dinner with my parents - usually at a restaurant. Nothing to plan for there. Mondays will be pasta night. In a pinch that will mean simply spaghetti with marinara or frozen ravioli, but on nights when we have more time (or Sunday's when we plan ahead) we'll have lasagna, stuffed shells, or some other Italian inspired fare. Tuesdays are dance lesson night at our house which means we need something quick and easy. A simple soup and sandwich night makes that easy for us. Time to put our panini press to work! Wednesday nights we'll be trying out stir fry night. This will be our hardest night, but one that we hope will inspire the girls to experiment a bit. My new rice cooker has my oldest loving brown rice with soy sauce on it. Over time I hope she'll be willing to add some veggies in, but we'll at least get her to eat a few on the side. Mix them up and we'll add them to my youngest's plate and ours. Thursdays were met with enthusiasm from the girls. Taco night has always been a hit, and for some reason I just don't do it very often. But with Thursday night taco night, we'll get the girls eating tacos, enchiladas, chips and guacamole, and a whole host of Mexican-inspired fare. Friday night has always been Family Fun night at our house. We typically order pizza and watch a movie or play board games. In the summer we sometimes eat that pizza at the park while the kids play on the playground. No reason to stop a good thing - so Friday nights will remain pizza night! I love to try out new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. Saturdays will be my time to do that, and hopefully make trying new recipes and foods a family affair. The girls love to cook, so we'll don our aprons and try out whatever sounds good.
With a plan in place, I already feel like the pressure has lessened. I sense a number of perfect meals in our future!