Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Feeding the hungry Wolves

( I'm a visual person, and don't enjoy reading blog posts without pictures, so  I am throwing this snapshot in  from a dinner last week. It's this recipe from TheSistersCafe. My kids love it!-- a no, we didn't eat all four loaves!  Whenever I make bread I like to double the recipe so that we can send loaves to  neighbors or friends. Everyone loves hot bread!)

The school rush is underway and I am desperately trying to keep my sanity balancing all the homework and after school activities while still trying to feed my kids decent meals......They are ALWAYS hungry, and if I'm not on my A-game, they end up eating a less than stellar diet.

A few weeks back, I planned an entire month of meals. My thought was to just repeat this same monthly menu for 6-months and then make a new one. I presumed this would work great, but each day, when I checked my schedule, I'd find that whatever was planned didn't sound good to me. Who wants to make something that they aren't in the mood for? It takes the joy out of it. I'm just too fickle with my food!

My other goal has been to have a big snack ready for the kids as they walk in the door. If I don't have it ready then they start frantically grazing on whatever random snacks (usually nutritionally low carbs)that they can find. This inevitably leads to the "I'm not hungry," proclamations when it's time to sit down to dinner, and then you can bet that I will go to bed feeling guilty that another day has passed and my kids missed eating a single vegetable. Not to mention that my kids and I tend to suffer from a form of hypoglycemic crazy-people syndrome. If we don't eat quality food regularly we start to foam at the mouth and breath fire!

However, trying to come up with snacks and a dinner plan, as well as cook it all, in the middle of the homework and chauffeuring chaos that is my afternoons, is never a good mix and often causes my evil half to creep to the surface. (Some of you may have never met her. Let me assure you that she is not pleasant. She lacks patience and calm understanding and generally speaks with sounds that include a lot of hissing and gnashing of teeth. Not pretty!)

If my evil twin gets out at this particular time of day, everything falls apart. By evening, when my poor husband walks in the door expecting a kiss and a "welcome home," he instead meets a ferocious growl and a cold shoulder. The whole house goes to bed sad.....very sad. Particularly me. No mother wants to look back on her day and find a stock pile of moments with her kids gone wrong. Our time with them is too short. I hate days like that!

And it all gets back to food.

Recently, I was sharing some of this food angst that I have with some girlfriends and one of them mentioned that when possible she actually tries to have dinner ready for the kids right after school. She figures that they are the most hungry then and will fill up on a really good meal. Then later in the day they can have a light snack before bed. She said that when she gets this done, it works brilliantly. This got me to thinking...

To make this plan work, I would still have to be on my A- game- I would still have to plan the meals and get it done, but the beauty of this is that it doesn't mix the cooking with the homework and car-pooling etc. I could get it all done before the rush and I believe I might be able to tame the tired, hungry and crabby beast that lingers in me. (My husband's dinner would always be about 4 hours cold, which is a bummer for him, but he might be willing to sacrifice if it meant the death of Mrs. Hyde).

Time will tell. Hopefully my efforts won't bite the dust like so  many of them do.

Do any of you have dinner time plans that work for you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Bethany said...

You are most certainly not alone! I go in and out of feeling like I'm doing a good job and feeling like I'm feeding my kids cereal for dinner every other night. We have tried the dinner-when-the-kids-get-home-from-school method, and I echo your friends' sentiment -- it's extremely helpful. I still don't do it all the time, but we do do it decently often. The only thing I'd add is that even if your family ends up eating dinner at different times, insist you all sit at the table at the same time for at least 15-20 minutes so there is still the family dinner "feel" and discussion time. I hate when we miss out on that! Good luck and let us know if you discover any other brilliant ideas!

Bethany said...

P.S. Beautiful bread! Wish we were neighbors...

Danika said...

What I do is plan a week's worth of meals before I grocery shop (so I can buy all the ingredients) but I don't assign them a specific day. Each morning I decide which one we'll have based on what sounds good to me, what we are doing that day/afternoon (so I know how much time I have for prep), what we had the day before (like no two pasta dishes in a row, etc), and what needs to get eaten first (fresh food vs. frozen). It works well for me. I also always keep the basic ingredients on hand for a few favorite meals so if I don't get to the store on the day I need to or if nothing on my list sounds good I can substitute those. I also use my crockpot a lot and whenever I make a casserole-type dish I always double it and freeze 1/2. You'd be surprised at what you can freeze! My big freezer in my garage was one of the best purchases we ever made.


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