Thursday, February 2, 2012

Food on Thursdays: I can't seem to plan a meal to save my life



hot dogs/veggie dogs
raw veggies and hummus

kale salad
roasted sweet potato frites

mixed greens and roasted tomatoes

Cookbook club! (More on that later…)

Egg pasta (parm, butter, fried egg)
roasted veggies

wild rice and roasted mushrooms
mixed greens with goat cheese and nuts

Dinner out at friend’s house

I love to eat so much. I don't even have the words to describe how much I like to eat. I also love to cook and bake and daydream about food. There are worse things in the world to love.

But regardless of how my heart soars at the thought of preparing wonderful food, I find dinner time very stressful, and not in the good "how can I time the pizza dough with roasting veggies in the oven and make the sure the cake cools in time" kind of way. First, I am part of a family of extremely picky eaters. Fifty percent of us have very particular tastes and this makes it so hard to come up with ideas for dinner. Matt has traveled leagues from our early days of him not eating vegetables (including onions and garlic), fruit, soups, sauces, fish, or casseroles of any kind, and I am grateful for his growth in this department (the man loves his roasted veggies). Alyce, not so much. At lunch time we give her the food we know she'll love (peanut butter sandwiches, mac and cheese, yogurt), but we refuse to cater our dinners to her limited taste. I'm committed to this but I still want her to enjoy our food, so it can make dinner planning frustrating. Second, for someone who loves cooking and eating a meal together as a family, I feel a lot of pressure around dinner time, and I'm the kind of person who, when feeling pressured, prefers to hide over taking charge of the moment. And then I order pizza. Oh, how I love pizza.

I wish I could take charge. This is me taking charge.

I've tried menu planning before and not had much success. In part it's because I'm most comfortable with the kind of cooking that involves seeing what fresh ingredients are in the fridge and going with it. I hope we can progress back to that, but for now I need to admit defeat and accept that this process doesn't work well for us right now. I will consider this menu plan a success if we stick to it five out of seven nights. Everyone needs some wiggle room.

Here's how this plan came together: Matt and I came up with a giant list of foods that the two of us enjoy together, and came up with 15 meat and fish dishes, 9 pasta and veggie options, and 10 side dishes (personally I could have come up with a list of choices the size of Mark Bitmans How to Cook Everything, but I'll take baby steps here). Since we usually leave room for a couple of nights that we fend for ourselves, I expect this list will get us through a month of dinners, with some of our favourites repeating each week (hands up if you think Matt requests steak at least twice a week). As for Alyce, there is something in each of these meals that she can eat (foods I know she likes even if she claims that day to be allergic to it). As for what she doesn't eat, I'll just have to trust that she gets enough of at breakfast and dinner.

Wish us luck!

P.S. I found some inspiration here

P.P.S. Unrelated: Can I just tell you how much I love knowing that someone found my blog by typing "picture of woman upside down breastfeeding" into a Google search? My work here is done.


  1. Haha!! How do you find out what searched people use to find you??
    I too find dinnertime stressful. Like right now it's 4:10 and I've been home all day and have nothing planned. The other night I made grilled ham and cheese and everyone was happy, so now I'm doesn't have to be a big production every night! My kids aren't that hungry at dinner time anyway. So...scrambled eggs and toast, soup, crackers with ham and cheese...simple stuff seems to do the trick. I'm getting easier on myself as they get older because they don't really seem to give a hoot about how much effort I put into it! Good luck!

  2. Love it!
    (Especially the wiggle room. Ahem.)

  3. KGH, in Blogger you can find these details under Stats. The most popular search remains "how to remove bead from nose." I think you're right that the kids are happy with simple foods, and I do try to remind myself of that. But Alyce won't eat: soup, sandwiches (except PB), stews or almost anything that one might consider simple foods! She'll grow out of it. Matt went an entire year (I think he was four) of only eating PB sandwiches. His mum even took him to the doctor and he said not to worry. I should write a note on my fridge reminding me of that.

    Helen Jane, thank you! Hooray for wiggle room. Already we forgot to buy kale for tomorrow night, so we are already wiggling.