Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wednesday Why: About Dinner

Dinner is my favorite meal.  It’s the celebration of the end of the day.  It’s the meal that involves more forethought than the others, and is generally more nutritionally balanced, creative and interesting.  Family dinner conjures up an image of everyone sitting around the table enjoying a yummy meal and each other’s company. 

Apparently, I have seen too many commercials for Pillsbury crescent rolls.

Naturally sometimes dinner does look like the all-American ideal.  Sometimes I manage to get my chopping and other prep done early so everyone, or at least the kids, is sitting down to eat by 6:15 p.m.  But usually, what happens is, we stay too long at the playground or a playdate, so I wind up frantically throwing something together, with children screaming and hanging on my pants so that my ass is hanging out as I hustle and bustle around our kitchen.  It’s funny, but also humiliating – not at all what I thought my life would look like.

There’s also the scenario where I have my act together. When I chose a kid-pleasing recipe (one based on something they’ve liked before), bought all the ingredients, did the prep during naptime, prepared everything carefully and lovingly and no one will eat a thing.  Maybe I fed them too many just-keep-out-of-my-hair snacks. Maybe they just don’t like what I’ve got.  I know that the eating habits of a young child are as predictable as Rihanna’s hairstyles, and I shouldn’t take it personally, but I can’t help feeling betrayed, hoodwinked, exploited, frustrated, enraged and heartbroken. 

So, here’s the Wednesday why - Why is dinner so damned hard?  And if it’s not for you, then what’s your secret?

This post was requested by an MNS reader.  If there’s a topic you’d like to hear about, let me know!


  1. I clearly remember as a kid that my mom often expressed what a challenge it was for her to plan dinner for us (4 kids + dad) every day. I'm talking the 1970s and '80s -- pre-Food Network days -- when mothers were totally on their on coming up with quick and easy, delicious and different dinner menus. Fortunately, my mom was a great cook, so we always ate well and thoroughly enjoyed every dish that she served -- except maybe pork chop dressing, which we all agreed was a disaster. Looking back today at our life back then, I so wish that Mom hadn't stressed herself out so much about meal planning. Some kind of good food was always on the table. And more than the fantastic dinners that she served us on a daily basis, my most treasured childhood memories are of the amazing times that she and I had together doing simple things, like her combing my hair or reading me books or letting me help her fold clothes. Those special times are worth so much more than all the time she spent fretting over meals.

  2. I don't condone, but now know why those nasty processed "pre-made" meals were invented... Moms in the 50s were searching for an answer and corporations gave it to them... despite the crap they were made from. I think it's really hard when kids are very little. Unpredictable, easily tired, volatile eating habits, zero attention span. Multiply that times your number of kids below age 6. I have no answers cause dinnertime mostly stinks for us too... But I do try and make lunch before outings and prep dinner as much as possible. We also side on the youth factor: our kids now eat at 5:30/6 or freak out... which is VERY early for us. We eat as a family maybe 3-4 times a week, the rest I feed the kids and sit with them to "chat" about the day, then we (husband and I) relish in some of the last few years we have eating alone and order in or make spicy food, steak, things the kids won't like and relax together after they go to bed. As the kids get older and everyones patience and timing becomes more aligned well do family dinner which is very important to all of us. I also think its hard because kids are completely distracting and cooking fast takes concentration,! I often find myself staring into space, cabinets left open as well as refrigerator doors... Kid crawling on my leg thinking " what the f do I need.,." ugh. Find something healthy, stick it in their mouths and we'll worry about memories later:)

  3. I know I have to let it go, and just be happy that they are ingesting some calories. Little kids won't starve, as they say, it would just be nice to have dinners that I work hard on be appreciated. My kids are 1.25 and 2.75 - super little. Which makes almost everything hard.

    As for dinner with the hubs late, that isn't possible either because my son stars nightly in his own version of "Go the F to Sleep." Sigh. I know this will all pass, and then it will be everyone eating whatever they can get their hands on b/c of practices, rehearsals, meetings, social events, etc.


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