17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Quick, before I starve!

One of my new years goals is to get better at planning and executing meals. I actually think I am a pretty good cook when I set my mind to it. I watch the Food Network and I have good instincts about the cooking process-(except for that time I soaked chicken in soy sauce for about 12 hours…but that is how you learn right?) I enjoy making dishes that require a lot of chopping…it helps me get some of my anxiety out. In case you haven’t noticed, I carry a lot of anxiety.

I have been sort of “take it or leave it” about food since about 2001, so that is another reason why cooking is a low priority. The conflict there is that I would rather eat healthy food and chocolate over fast food or pizza or pretty much anything else bad for me, any day, and chocolate aside, that healthy food usual requires some preparation.

Then there are the children. Let’s face it, they should be eating healthy food. So, week 1 of PLANNING went really well. I sat down for about 30 minutes and decided what I would make, and as I decided I filled out my Fresh Direct (online grocery shopping) with exactly what ingredients I would need. The first meal was easy b/c it was just something I had to warm (I ordered one of Fresh Direct’s dinners for 4), the second one I made the night BEFORE we ate it, after the kids went to bed, then I just had to warm and serve the next night. Also successful.

Tonight however was trickier. I decided to make a meal at the dinner hour. So around 5:30 I started cooking and my baby sat in her high chair near where I was cooking and cried/whined the whole time. As I was cooking the sink was filling with dishes b/c I didn’t empty my dishwasher (and yes I know how lucky I am to HAVE a dishwasher) first, and thus couldn’t load it as I cooked. This along with the crying caused my chest to tighten. Then when I finally cleaned up (halfway) and sat down to eat, my baby was still fussing and I had to eat my meal in about 5 minutes while wrangling my wiggly baby, and trying to prevent her from getting botulism (b/c there was honey in the recipe and she kept grabbing at the food).

Of course when I had finished scarfing my meal (which was actually pretty good), I cleaned up the rest of my mess and the baby decided she was done crying then, and just hung out on the floor with her toys. I appreciated her being quiet during the cleaning, but would have rather enjoyed the experience of cooking and eating, then cleaning. I am so frustrated after all of this that I really need some ideas of how to feed my family, and ME!


  • I save 5-6pm as a TV time in our house, so that I can have a small breather and cook dinner in relative peace. I'm trying to remember how old Max was when I started doing this... probably older than your baby is now, so that might not work for you at this point! The other thing that we used to do if we wanted some peace was to eat dinner after Max went to sleep - required me to adjust my body to eating later, but it made for a more peaceful meal, one that hubby and I often prepared together.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/06/2006 05:10:00 PM  

  • Deciding what to have/make for dinner is one of the things I hate the most!! One thing that works well for me is to plan out some things that can be frozen (depends on your freezer space too) but then you can find a day, or night, when the hubby is home and can handle the kids and you can make up some meals/casseroles/whatever and freeze them so you can put them in the fridge the morning of and by dinner they're ready to go in the oven. The other thing I like to do is when I'm cooking up something like chicken, I go ahead a do a whole bunch and freeze it, then I at least have that part done when I'm ready to make up dinner.
    Then again, most nights take out sounds like the best option! Good luck!!
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 1/07/2006 12:13:00 PM  

  • The only time I make dinner is when the children are asleep or when hubby's home. The kids are still young enough that they don't enoy the foods I like to eat and I don't want to eat mac and cheese and chicken nuggets every night.

    I think it is really important for the family to all sit down together to eat, but at this point in my family's life, it's just doesn't happen except for on Sunday's.

    I enjoy the act of eating far too much to be rushed through it by my children. That is why I also prepare and eat my lunch during their nap as well.

    If I do make something for dinner (which I usually eat with my husband at around 9 or 10 at night) that my child might like, I just save it and serve it for her dinner the next night.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/07/2006 05:32:00 PM  

  • carrie, I had a feeling this post was coming....Obviously I know you are a skinny lady, but what about all those diet people saying not to eat past a certain time? I have anxiety about that....plus I get hungry around 5 or 6...And heartburn if I don't have time to digest...And I guess I am just not passionate enough about food b/c I have never dreamed of preparing food during that precious nap time.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/07/2006 07:45:00 PM  

  • The best thing we do is plan ahead -- a week's worth of meals planned out on Saturday. Then it's just a matter of choosing one and throwing it together. Less stressful than trying to figure out what to eat from scratch.

    I don't remember what I did when my oldest was little, and the only one; probably put on a TV show or something. When they get older, you could have them help cook (which is a pain, I know; I don't even like it all that much). Or, better cook along with you: invest in one of those little kitchens and put it in the kitchen (if there's room), so they can cook right beside mommy.

    Now that I have three, I just banish them to the basement to play until dinner's ready. Unless they want to help... then I have negotiate whose turn it is, and working around the not-so helpful helping....
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/08/2006 03:51:00 PM  

  • It is nice to know that one day I will be able to "banish the kids to the basement" though for me that might mean to their tiny shared bedroom. But maybe someday I will have a house too. Anyway, I think I need to give myself a break b/c my kids are small...and just learn to eat at odd hours. Like today my husband and I had dinner at 4 b/c that is when the kids were asleep. Or maybe it's b/c we were really hungry from fasting...so we upped the time! ; )
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/08/2006 06:17:00 PM  

  • Kage, Kage, Kage. 1 bad try does not mean give up all together. Keep at it and plan some really simple meals that just involve throwing things that involve 2 pots or less. I have some good meals I do that take less than 20 mins to prepare, but then again I don't have any children outside of utero yet!
    My advice is keep at it a few more times and develope a system that works best for you by trial and error.
    posted by Blogger E-Dawg at 1/09/2006 08:44:00 AM  

  • I pretty much don't enjoy cooking since the kiddies came along....
    although, when I'm organized (maybe once a week), the crock pot is my friend. I just throw everything in the pot first thing in the morning when things are still calm....and voila...dinner a few hours later. I have some recipe books if you're interested...
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/09/2006 09:34:00 AM  

  • I tried again. I made Swedish Meatball Stoup from Rachel Rays 365: No Repeats. My baby sat and ate her cracker in the high chair and my 3 year old helped me make the meal. Then we cleaned up, sat down and ALL ate it together. It was a miracle. The best part was leftovers for lunch today. I am not giving up yet.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/10/2006 10:16:00 AM  

  • Congrats on the success, Kage.

    In my experience, it's all about 2 things. Practice, and easy foods. Find some easy foods that your children will eat, and that you can tolerate.

    What worked well for us has been noodles. Penne, rigatoni, macaroni, ravioli, whatever. Ten minutes in the saucepan, and the noodles are done. Add red or white sauce from a jar, and you've got a meal. Meanwhile, for yourself and husband, if you have the time or inclination, you can cook up some chicken in white wine sauce or whatnot, and have it with the same noodles. Add some grated parmaggiano to the top, and you've got a halfway decent meal yourself. And an easy one.

    (Easy baked chicken: take a few chicken breasts; toss them in the baking pan; add wine or italian salad dressing or marinade; add mushrooms/artichokes/capers/whatever if desired; bake at 350 or so for ~40 minutes, depending on your oven and how much chicken you've got in there. Note: Don't add salt; you'll get plenty from the marinade/wine.

    If you've got a big enough pan, cook up six breasts this way and you're set for a few days.)

    (Of course, if you have more time, you can make your chicken snazzier than that -- but the easy way works quite nicely).

    Also, you can make noodles by the truckload, keep them in the fridge, and reheat for lunch.

    That's one family's easy solution. The solution will vary from family to family, depending on what your kids like and what you like, but the key is finding stuff that you can extend easily to cover more than one meal.
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 1/10/2006 05:39:00 PM  

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