Sometimes in the middle of dinner my husband glances up at the clock and mouths something along the lines of “73 minutes babe… 73 minutes!” Long gone are the days of sitting opposite, or even better beside each other at the dinner table making civilised conversation while using both hands to eat a hot meal. No, no, no… dinner time has become a military type operation consisting of gently encouraging (force feeding!) a picky 4 year old, reigning in the enthusiasm of a speed eating 2 year old, keeping spoonfuls up to a keen solids starter and filling constantly empty drink bottles all while we attempt to eat our own dinner and encourage polite conversation and good table manners!
The planning towards dinner begins on a Sunday night when I give everyone the chance to choose one meal for the week, the next step are the inevitable tears as Mr. Picky realises that Watties “orange spaghetti” is not a valid choice! Eventually they all make a choice and I go about planning the week to ensure that we don’t have pasta 3 nights in a row. Weekly meal planning is a relatively new concept in our house and although it seems like a drag on Sunday night it makes the grocery shop (usually done online) so much easier and eliminates the daily discussion/argument between my husband and I. Don’t get me wrong the meal choosing and planning are not solutions to Mr. Picky’s eating ‘issues’ but it does help in that we can talk about what is for dinner during the day and this has put a stop to the outburst of wailing when he gets up to the table and sees what is on his plate.
The challenge has been in finding meal ideas that contain meat and vegies, but are not just the traditional ‘meat and 3 veg meals’ that I was brought up on and that my husband would probably prefer. I must admit Chelsea Winter’s awesome cook books have been a god send in providing me with nutritious, family friendly meal ideas. Some of our favourite Chelsea meals are… ‘Good Green Spaghetti’, ‘Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs’, ‘Beautiful Bolognese’ and ‘Spaghetti Amatricana’. We are also big lasagne fans… lasagne makes me happy as it contains meat and I can cram/hide lots of vegies in it too (and if I play my cards right I can make it last 2 nights!).
P.S. All going to plan, 73 minutes is the approximate time left before our three gorgeous munchkins will be all tucked up in bed.