So I have told you about shaming our family at Friendly's, and I have told you about terrible, terrible behavior on dates. And I've even told you my worst fart story ever.
Still, with all this, I'm so ashamed to tell you about dinner in our house. Here is the mega-shame part: We eat terribly and I don't know how to make real dinner.
And here is where I'm going to ask for your help.
So dinner in our house is mainly kid dinner, because it happens around 6:00-6:30, hours before Nick is home. Here is our main course repertoire, in no particular order: Fish sticks; chicken patties; spaghetti and meatballs (no sauce! the horror!); mac & cheese; grilled cheese; pizza; eggs - scrambled, fried, in a sandwich, with sausage, in a box with a fox.
India will eat vegetables and beans as well. She also likes tomatoes and mozzarella. Jordan will eat broccoli, but that's it. But still, it's something. We have a lot of steamed broccoli.
Betty and I eat dinner with the kids. We typically have what they're having, at least in part. I quite like fish sticks, actually. I love eggs. But otherwise, I only eat the vegetable portion. Maybe Betty heats some tomato soup or maybe I make myself a smoothie later.
And then Nick comes home around 8:30 or so and fixes himself a sandwich.
We have been doing this for a long, long time. It works, but it doesn't, in that it's not healthy. It's not how I grew up, with mandatory family dinner at 7:00 pm, and with a meat and a veg and a starch.
I hated those dinners. They were often tense and when I was in high school and trying to avoid food and my dad was sliding into crazy, they were particularly terrible.
And I've never liked to cook. So I've hated dinnertime for a long, long time. And now that you add the stress of trying to get kids to sit on their bottoms and not put their fists into their water cups and please don't poke your sister and India! Biting is not what we do to people! It is all the less appealing.
But dinner is important. It's unavoidable. And I need to get better at it.
Even on weekends, we rarely have a cohesive dinner. Nick and I will sit with the kids, and then we'll figure out later what we're having. But historically we haven't liked the same things, so we don't really have an actual together meal. Or we'll go out or get takeout.
I feel a strong need to change this. Nick has lost 15 pounds since August, and he is energized to lose quite a bit more. He's in a place where he is open, for the first ime, to changing how he eats. I want to foster this.
So what I need to have to MUST do is start cooking. We have to start eating real food, and it has to be me.
Betty is an excellent cook, but she's not remotely interested. It's all on me.
And so I'm asking you.
I am looking for easy, nutritious, tasty recipes. Could be anything - chicken, lentils, soup, stew, you name it. I do not know how to cook meat, so it needs to be super easy, like meat for dummies. And just about the only thing I know how to do with vegetables is steam them. Beans? I know how to open a can and put the pot on low. I do know how to roast Brussels sprouts. Mmmm.
Jordan won't like any of these things, because he is five and hates everything. I'm not worried about him.
But the rest of us need to start eating real food.
This is my shame. Can you help me?
These are both delicious and weeknight staples at my house. My 2 year old will eat both!
Thank you thank you!Delete
I cannot recommend the book "Cooked" by Michael Pollan highly enough. He explores the basic methods of cooking -- fire, water, air and earth. It's not a cookbook at all, no recipes, but it's likely the book that's most improved my cooking. He talks about the mechanics of real food. I adore it.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Cynthia. Sounds interesting for sure!Delete
Crock Pot. I HATE to cook. This saved my life. And, you live in a big city (lucky you) there must be cooking classes going on occasionally (I've often thought home ec teachers could make good money re-teaching all of us who paid no attention as teens) Or take one online, or read a really good cooking book. Oh, and make a menu for a week and stick it on the fridge. Have siri or whatever you have to remind you to take the meat out to thaw. Still, I think cooking classes would be awesome. And maybe for now as you figure this out Nick should stick to smoothies for his last meal.ReplyDelete
I have so many people telling me CROCK POT. I must heed this advice! Particularly since it sounds like such an easy way to make tender meat. I also need to make weekly menus. We do no planning. Because I hate to plan and I hate to cook.Delete
I second the crock pot recommendation. And will also say that we eat the exact same way, including largely the same foods. Half the time I'll fix a kid dinner and then have Shakeology for myself, and that's it.ReplyDelete
You totally made me feel better. I was feeling totally aberrant. I do need a solution, though, for my mom and Nick. We all need to eat more real food.Delete
Also, I clearly use "totally" way too much.Delete
Crockpots make very tender meat with very little work. My husband kind of hates how everything comes out tasting vaguely the same though so we don't use it very often. We use Eating Well and weelicious.com for ideas. The kids do not always eat what we make, but they must TRY it before they are given any alternative (usually peanut butter.)ReplyDelete
And yes, we also meal plan for a week at a time.ReplyDelete
This is also a goal: real food for dinner, and this is what's on the table. They can have an alternative, but I'm not making 45 different things.Delete
Bummed to hear the crock pot stuff all tastes vaguely the same...but since we are pretty new to it, hopefully it will take a long time for Nick to feel that way.
And we HAVE to start planning!
I hate hate hate cooking as well. What I've learned is you have to find a sort of cooking schedule that works for you and your family. Have you tried Gathered Table? They have some good recipes on there and set up a weekly menu for you along with grocery items. (Yes, I'm THAT lazy.)ReplyDelete
Also if your husband eats later, maybe think of smaller, healthier dishes for that time of night. Like salads (you can add protein such as chicken or meat to them).
I haven't tried ANYTHING. I've just been slogging along with what we do and feeling guilty and like a bad mother for the food choices. I also haven't been making anything for Nick because I've already made at least two separate dinners. So he comes home and eats a sandwich, mainly.Delete
I'll send you some recipes which meet this criteria this weekend, like my Mom's ranchero beans recipe which is easy and really yummy.ReplyDelete
A few weeks ago I started cooking all my meals at home (bringing my lunch to work) in preparation for never going out to eat again (haha) once I have a baby. I bought a cookbook from Williams-Sonoma called "One Pot of the Day" (similar to crock pot ideas above but it's not crock pot recipes). All the cookbooks I use are Williams-Sonoma so I'm used to the style and ingredients but the 7 or so recipes I've made so far have been really good. They aren't all easy to make there is variety and it's organized as a calendar which I LOVE because if you can't think of anything to make, looking at that day or week or month provides an idea and the ingredients are all in season.
Thanks for the idea, heather! One pot is for sure appealing. I know you love to cook and you always have recipe suggestions! Big hugs!Delete
Dinner a Love story and Motherlode (New York Times blog) had a whole segment on the family dinner with some good ideas and tips. http://www.dinneralovestory.com/motherlodes-family-dinner-challenge/ReplyDelete
I also use recipes from www.100daysofrealfood.com and we even did their 10 day challenge.
Fav recipe in our house (2 year old and 4 year old eat it!) is Black Bean Tortilla Pie. I add in some bell pepper and use whole wheat tortillas to up the nutrition. http://www.marthastewart.com/336692/tortilla-and-black-bean-pie
Thank you - I will definitely read! Family dinner is such a different beast.Delete
If I could get my son to eat a black bean anything I would be shocked and delighted!
If you're interested in meal planning, emeals.com makes family-friendly paleo and other healthy diet meal plans. Comes with a shopping list. It's a big hit in my mom's group.ReplyDelete
Jo, I really appreciate your help!!!Delete
Try How to Cook Everything by NYT's Mark Bittman.ReplyDelete
It's just how it sounds- everything from veggies, meat, beans and rice, but in a normal people kind of way. No cooking experience required.
For us, we usually shop on Sundays. Then we come home and chop up all the produce so it's easy to throw in a recipe or a salad. Then we cook a giant pot of beans and a giant pot of rice (thanks, Mark Bittman!) and then, a few times a week, we make Chipotle bowls! Just add salsa, lettuce and avocado!
We are full, have lots of energy, don't feel sick and it's so cheap. Also, my boyfriend's lost over 20lbs since the end of July, mostly from these small things.
I just heard of this book because friend of mine just went to his book signing! A normal people kind of way very much appeals to me.Delete
If I could get Nick to do this with me, this would change our lives, I think. I do all the food shopping, prep, what cooking we do. And I hate it.
This, too, is very appealing: "We are full, have lots of energy, don't feel sick and it's so cheap. Also, my boyfriend's lost over 20lbs since the end of July, mostly from these small things."
This is one of my favorite easy weeknight dinners. I usually throw in an extra can of beans and some extra cheese. It is a really flexible recipe, you really can't mess it up.ReplyDelete
Thank you thank you! I have a severe weakness for gnocchi, but have never had it like this!Delete
And this is my favorite cookbook. It is mostly but not entirely vegetarian: http://www.amazon.com/Rebar-Modern-Cookbook-Audrey-Alsterburg/dp/0968862306ReplyDelete
Thank you, Marissa, for lovely salad and cookbook suggestions! I appreciate it! Definitely trying to incorporate more veg into all our lives.Delete
Use a meal delivery service! it's like training wheels for figuring out how to plan and cook regular meals.ReplyDelete
Thanks! That's not anything I had ever considered. Interesting! Food for thought...(heh)Delete
De-lurking to comment (I've been reading your blog since before you were married!). Check out ohsheglows.com. I've also been trying to eat healthier lately and she has some wonderful vegan recipes: Rad Rainbow Pad Thai, Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce, 15 minute creamy avocado pasta for example. I tried some of them and liked them so much that I just bought her cookbook which is fabulous. She even has some smoothie recipes (she calls them "Green Monsters"). She also has some granola bar recipes (she calls them "Glow Bars") that are easy to make, healthy and my grandson loves them...along with everyone else I've shared them with. I highly recommend the book! BTW, I was so inspired by your 10 day smoothie cleanse that I decided to try it. I'm on day 5 and have lost 4 pounds and feel really good. Thanks!ReplyDelete
First, wow! I'm so pleased to have inspired you, and proud of you for your success! That is terrific! Also, thank you so much for the suggestion. She has a lot of DELICIOUS looking things - and her treats seem pretty healthy, which would be nice for the kids. Thanks! And thank you for being a long-time reader. Hearing that makes me so happy; I really appreciate it.Delete