Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How I Do It - Food

Food is a challenge in my house. I have blogged about this before in passing and anecdotally. I was an incredibly picky child. I remain a somewhat picky adult. I try to hide it. It embarrasses me. But there are some foods I just simply cannot put into my mouth.

When I was younger I swore up and down that I would not battle my kids over food like my parents did with me. I spent many nights sitting in front of my dinner plate until late. I refused to do that with my kids.

Of course it would figure that my kids would inherit my pickiness. And I would marry someone who claims to be the anti-picky. (He claims this, but you can be in on my secret - he has his own food issues... )
So basically food is a big issue in our family, unfortunately.

So I could go into the picky issues... but I think I will skirt that for now and hit the basics.
Grocery Shopping:
I used to have time to do little grocery shopping trips over lunch when I worked in my office 40 hours a week. Now that I spend less time in my office a week I find it very hard to carve out time to run down the street to the grocery store. So my fixes have been:
  • - Subscribe and Save. There are certain dried goods that I can get there, for cheaper and if I "subscribe" I save an additional 15%. I can get one box of my cereal that I eat daily for $4.39 at the grocery store. Or I can get 6 boxes sent to me automatically (and I can cancel shipments) for $20.
  • Honey Do - I despise hauling my kids to the grocery store. If I do, I end up with more crap in my cart and spend significantly more. If I just need a few things I sync it to my husband's phone and he grabs the milk and eggs on his way home.
  • Farmer's Markets in the summer - the kids love it and here I will let them go nuts. Plus, it humors me to see my son talk kale with with one of the vendors.
  • Once a month trips - where I need to improve drastically is planning these. I need to use coupons. I need to have a list and stick to it and quit browsing.

Meal Planning:
  • We have a deep freeze and we do a lot of preparations of foods ahead of time. We make and freeze; chicken pot pies, spaghetti sauce, red chili, green chili, cod in Panko, and calamari in Panko.
  • I have a white board in my pantry - I keep a running list of dinner options because how many times have you asked your significant other what he wants for dinner and he responds, "I don't know, what are my options" or "I don't know, what do we have?" And you reply, "I don't know." And it becomes pizza night? (Not that there is anything wrong with that...)
  • On my white board list right now (in addition to the items in the freezer); Salmon, Tacos, Stroganov, Raviolis, Chicken Breasts, Halibut, Fish Tacos, Gnocchi, Shrimp, Frozen Pizza
  • I try to keep my fridge and pantry stocked so that I can make just about anything I happen upon a recipe for.
  • Pinterest. There, I brought it out. I have a Pinterest board for cooking and when I need a new idea I go there.
Actual Cooking:
I wish I did cooking, but it seems as though what I do is "meal prep". I try to plan meals ahead, but so often it is walk in the door and figure out dinner. I have a crock pot and I am ok at using it, but not great. I struggle with everything tasting the same or it being a novelty substitute for real actual good cooking.
  • Once a week Leif is responsible for planning and executing dinner (with me). I try to get him to do most of it. We have had some interesting foods - egg pie (a few times, he likes quiche), meatball sandwiches a few times, chicken nuggets (note that this is where I jump in - we make panko chicken breasts instead, if he is going to learn to cook then he is going to learn from raw ingredients - within reason for a work night), nachos (yes that counts), fish, macaroni and cheese homemade (flop) and hamburgers (his favorite).
  • For the most part I get the weeknight cooking duties and AB gets the weekend. He enjoys BBQ'ing and for the most part that is the only time we really do red meat - I don't cook red meat. It's not that I have an opposition or anything... nope, this is where my husband's pickiness comes in... he is VERY particular about how his food - particularly his meat - is cooked. 
  • Breakfast - whatever I make on the weekend we double or triple the batch and make and freeze enough for during the week. Pancakes? Freeze fabulously. Crepes, separate them with parchment paper and freeze for easy weekday breakfasts. Muffins too!
I like to think I am not over the top with food. But some people will read this and think I am a total slacker and criticize that my kids eat white sugar and flour. Others will read this and think I am a health nut.


My mother died of a rare digestive cancer. Some part of me has wondered how much of this has to do with what she ate on a regular basis. I don't think I will ever know what caused her cancer, but I can't help to think that my kids and I are at a greater risk for this or other digestive cancers. I am a huge advocate for "everything in moderation". But some moderations are smaller than others.

By my typing this I hope no one thinks I am being critical or self righteous. It isn't my intent.

Used very sparingly if at all:
  • Pop, Soda, Carbonated drinks - my son makes this easy, he won't drink carbonated drinks at all. AB and I gave them up years ago. Though we do indulge on a rare Jack and Coke or a Pepsi at a movie theater.
  • Partially hydrogenated anything - I am sure I miss it on occasion, but we avoid it.
  • Fast Food - (Pizza excluded) It is a treat to have when we are headed out of town.
  • Canned vegies - attempt to use fresh when at all possible with the exception of canned carrots (because for some freaky reason my daughter loves those things) and an occasional can of green beans to serve as a vegie for the kids when AB and I have fixed something we have no expectation of the kids eating.
  • Fruit Snacks - my kids used to be slaves for these. Then I made a rule that I wasn't buying them if the kids weren't shopping with me. And since I avoid taking them grocery shopping... well they have fallen out of favor.
  • Store bought cookies - face it, homemade taste better and they aren't THAT hard to make.
  • Cereal - believe it or not my kids are not cereal fans. Skadi will eat Frosted Mini Wheats (pink ones) without milk. Leif would rather have oatmeal. I eat Puffed Kashi. AB is the only one who seems to miss cereal. True confession - I buy a box of Lucky Charms to keep in the trailer during the summer as a treat when we are camping.
Used in moderation:
  • Red meat - my husband has a hard time with vegetarian, but he can be limited to no red meat except for 1-2 times a week.
  • White bread - I buy whole wheat for everything but hamburger buns and hot dogs. So far my kids have yet to notice a difference.
  • Pasta - I love it, the kids love it, but I try to limit it to 1-2 times a week. One night being spaghetti night, the other can be macaroni and cheese or white cheddar shells and cheese side dish.
Used a lot:
  • Fish - A lot. Really a lot. The kids love salmon, cod, halibut and trout. They also love calamari steaks, are learning to love scallops and shrimp.
  • Fresh vegies - I push and push them and amazingly they are starting to sink in with at least one child. Leif loves baked cauliflower, Skadi loves broccoli, Leif does kale chips, fresh peas and carrots. AB and I try to do salad most nights.
  • Chicken breasts - truth be told I could care less for chicken breasts. Ok, I might even go so far as to say I despise them. They have no flavor, little texture and just blah - I would prefer a thigh or drumstick anyday. But we buy the breasts bulk at Costco and use them. A lot. But the kids love chicken tikka masala, breaded chicken cutlets, Chicken Satay, etc. And they are easy. Way easy.
  • Rice - of all types. Even boxes of rice pilaf. The kids love it and I like it too.
  • Fruits for side dishes. My kids will do fruit salad. Skadi only likes apples, bananas and oranges for some reason - she is weird. Though she will eat most fruit dried. I haven't figured her out. On a day when her fruit and vegie intake has been light, we slice up and apple for her side dish.
So there you have it. How I do meals... How do you do it?

1 comment:

Jay said...

It sounds like you have a nice varied diet andi nspite of what you say your kids are well on their way to having varied tastes and certainly a healthy diet. I found letting my kids make "dip" for raw veggies saw them chow down on all kinds of veggies that weren't otherwise accepttable to them. The dip was plain yogurt and anything from relish to dried mushrooms, chives, ketchup, hot sauce. The dipped raw turnip, cauliflower carrott sticks celery brocolli and I can't recall what all else.Sometimes I'd capitulate and"let"them have raw veggies and dip with their dinner-nice of me ehhh?

We never used white bread still don't. Nor do they.
Good on you Nuclear Mom;o)