It’s six o’clock in the evening on a weekday. You come home from soccer practice with hungry and tired kids that are about to crack if they haven’t already. Now what to make for dinner?
You frantically scan the fridge for something that you could cook in less than 5 minutes. That’s about the time you have until complete rupture. Nothing. With a sigh, you once again surrender to those pre-made frozen pizzas.
As you sit eating at the table the kids are quite content. You feel like an utter failure. What kind of a mother am I if I can’t cook nutritious meals for my children? You imagine all kinds of vitamin deficiencies they might have. A, B, C, D, E, K. Maybe, not C, they do eat a lot of oranges. But the other letters are surely missing. What could that lead to? A: bad vision, B: neuropathies, D: cancer, E: cell damage, K: blood clotting problems.
And you will be the cause of all that. The reason for them not living a long and healthy life.
After the children have gone to sleep you have every intention to look up some recipes and compose a menu for the coming week. Once they are asleep so are you. On the sofa.
You were just going to close your eyes for a few minutes and relax while the kids were going to sleep. Four hours later you wake up. Your mouth is a desert. You crawl your way to bed and crash once again. Not even having enough energy to bypass the bathroom. Let alone clean the kitchen.
So where to start? How to break this cycle of processed foods and start to make your own? The key is to keep it simple. Don’t aim for a three course Nobel dinners. Your kids will surely not appreciate them anyway. Go for the simple dishes with only a few ingredients that you can always find at home. Don’t fill your cabinets with weird expensive stuff that you only use once.
There needs to be some variation in what to eat for dinner. But you don’t need to overdo it. Most people tend to eat the same for breakfast every morning. Your repertoire doesn’t have to be hundreds of recipes. If it’s in the twenties your are fine.
Writing a weekly menu helps. Everyone in the family knows what’s for dinner. You know what to take out from the freezer in the morning.
So keep it short and simple. Especially on the weekdays when food should have been on the table at least twenty minutes before you even entered the house. Try to engage your children in the cooking process. Even very small children can participate as long as you give them appropriate tasks.
Many parents regard cutting with knives as a highly risky business for children. So they give them the least sharp knife in the household. The rationale being that they shouldn’t cut themselves. They are more likely to cut themselves with a dull knife (ever tried cutting tomatoes with one?). Better then to wait a few years before handing them a knife. Give them something else to do in the meantime.
Let your kids try out the food to make suggestions on what spices and flavors that might be missing. This way I’ve found that they are more prone towards actually eating it once it’s done. You also help them develop their palate.
On the weekends or any other day when you actually have some extra time for cooking you can try out those new dishes that perhaps take a bit longer to prepare. Or not. It’s up to you. You need to figure out what works for your family. It’s not up to what everyone else thinks.