What’s for Dinner?

So, I used to dread those words because I didn’t always have an answer…now that I have become an obsessive meal planner, I dread them for a totally different reason: I live with a threenager. Here he is:

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Super cute, right? And tonnes of fun, really. 90% of the time. Because the other 10% of the time he’s throwing a tantrum because he just asked, ‘What’s for dinner/lunch/breakfast?’ and you answered something that didn’t involve sausages, ketchup, or chocolate biscuits – his three main food groups. It’s driving me nuts. Maybe because my first born is a fantastic eater (the kind you can bring for midweek sashimi dates and who has been eating pulpo since he was three), I’ve been a bit spoilt. I’ve never really known what it’s like to live with a picky eater. I like to tell myself it’s a phase, but…it’s been happening since he started eating solids, so I think it’s time to stop fooling myself.

I was particularly tired and cranky last Taco Tuesday (yes, that is a weekly thing in our house – a key aspect of my  aforementioned obsessive meal planning…), so I did something I’m not particularly proud of. When Josh decided that he wasn’t going to eat my (very delicious) slow cooker chicken & black bean enchiladas, I cried. Yep. Had a proper tantrum at the dinner table, had to go on timeout in my room, and come downstairs and apologise to everyone. Super mature stuff.

Fortunately, my husband has a much more even temper than I do (excluding rugby-related issues), so he calmly handled dinner cleanup and, the next day, sent me this life-affirming article about family dinner strategy. I already engage in some of the articles suggestions in a casual way, but I was comforted by the idea that we can still have a family meal with reasonable standards and all be happy.

So I started the week with a renewed sense of purpose. Monday night’s dinner looked like this:

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I roasted a huge tray of veggies (whatever was in the fridge, really) and let people take whatever they wanted as a topping for some fresh tagliatelle. Josh opted for none, but did not have a tantrum, Dan choose broccoli & peppers, and Ben & I went for the whole kit’n’caboodle, with a dash of lemon zest and generous shaving of pecorino romano. Garlic bread was a universal hit, and NO ONE CRIED.

Maybe I’m just a bit slow, and I should have thought of this years ago, but thinking about dinner in this way has refocused my meal planning. For tonight’s Taco Tuesday, I made turkey chili, but instead of stressing about what Mr. Picky would eat, I planned a side of  quesadillas. Josh scarfed them up, and even dipped them into his otherwise untouched chili, but I looked at it as baby steps. (Also, Dan had two helpings of chili, which fed my ego enormously.) Next week, I think I’ll put a baked potato bar and a ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ buffet into the calendar. And, no matter what anyone does or doesn’t eat, I’ll remember not to cry.

Also, in my foodie world this week:

  • I’m excited about an upcoming dinner reservation here.
  • I’ll be baking this on Friday, for the day that’s in it.
  • I’m currently completely obsessed with Wall & Keogh loose leaf Irish Breakfast tea. It is the Best. Thing. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

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