It’s four o’clock! Kids are finishing school and you are managing pick-up, coordinating after school activities, and/or winding down the workday and you suddenly ask yourself:
What’s for dinner!? Oh crap!
By now, I would have expected myself to be the master of the meal since I have fed so many mouths – DAILY, for years. If you recall, my household consists of four kids and three adults – yep, seven tummies! I basically host a party every night.
Sadly, I find myself asking the dinner question too late in the day to really count as “planning dinner.” The evenings I scramble to pull together dinner leave me stressed, exhausted, and unsatisfied. Furthermore, the nutritional value and enjoyment of the family meal is diminished when I wait until the last minute. Making chicken nuggets (again) while the kids complain about being hungry is NOT my idea of a good time.
The clear answer is to plan ahead. But let’s get real – how many of us take the time to be that organized on a weekly basis? I applaud your family if you do (and send me some tips)!
For those, like me, who struggle with dinner dilemmas, I have some easy to abide-by tips for conquering this daily challenge. My answer is to follow GENERAL guidelines for the week and have the staple ingredients on hand. Here is an example of a weekly guideline:
Mexican Monday – taco bar, enchiladas, nachos etc.
Noodle Tuesday – pesto, spaghetti, lasagna, etc.
Wacky Wednesday – clean out the fridge or have cereal, basically you’re on your own!
Grilling Thursday – burgers, hot dogs, fish, whatever can be cooked on the grill
Pizza Friday – sometimes we make our own pizza or call out for delivery
Spousal Saturday – spousal discretion and RESPONSIBILITY
Family Funday (I mean – SUNday) – healthy, novel, and/or fancy meals made together as a family
Do I follow these guidelines religiously? Absolutely not. However, when the witching hour sneaks up on me it’s a lot easier to answer the question, “What’s for dinner?” by recalling what day of the week correlates to the guidelines we have already established instead of trying to come up with a meal plan while under duress.
I love how my own laziness for wanting a night off from cooking, known as Wacky Wednesday, has turned into an opportunity for my children to test their knowledge of a balanced meal or be brave and try cooking for themselves. They soon realize Cheerios and ice cream for dinner is not what it’s cracked up to be and meal planning and cooking is hard work!
My favorite and unexpected surprise from these guidelines is that my children have started asking, “How can I help?” instead of “What’s for dinner?” – I consider that a triumph when attempting to conquer the dinner dilemma!