Thursday, December 8, 2011

meal planning sucks

when i was growing up, my mom cooked dinner for us every night. that was the norm. she meal planned, coupon clipped, grocery shopped and cooked -- my dad came home from work at 6 p.m. and we all sat down to eat together. so i have spent 27 years thinking that's what moms do.

annnd now i'm ready to quit. since we got married, i've tried to follow my mom's example. i totally believe in preparing home-cooked meals [as opposed to eating pizza or warmed-up frozen meals every night] AND in eating together as a family every night, and i'd like to continue doing those things. but seriously -- it is hard.

i completely DREAD saturdays when my planner says "plan menu." i loathe combing through recipes week after week after week. i've tried cookbooks, food blogs,, friend & family recommendations but i feel like i'm starting back at scratch for every meal. finding something both b and i like is difficult -- i prefer salads & don't particularly need to eat meat every meal; b likes comfort food & thinks it's NOT a meal unless there are copious amounts of meat -- and i'm bad at keeping track of which ones succeed.

also, finding time to prepare dinner is tough -- my day is already pretty busy, so i don't have tons of time to research & prep recipes, plus it's universal knowledge that all children turn into demons between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. so all my cooking time has to fit into a 30 minute episode of mickey mouse clubhouse or i'm screwed. trying to make dinner is hard enough when you don't have THIS guy pulling on your leg:

oh, and did i mention i'm not the best cook? so there's that.

anyway, after devoting more time that i should to planning & preparing a stupid meal, i finally get a semi-well-balanced dinner on the table close to the time b comes home from work and i feel sort of proud of myself -- and then b says he doesn't like it. UGH. [to his credit, he probably likes 3 out of every 5 meals i make...but he dislikes meals so frequently that my mediocre chef pride takes a hit anyway.]

take last night, for example. i made chicken taco salad & quesadillas [we need to eat a lot of salad right now because for some reason i bought a 6-pack of romaine lettuce at costco, seriously what 2-person household needs that much produce?!] and b wouldn't touch the salad. which was mildly offensive to me also because that salad is one of my faves and i literally ate it for lunch every day i was pregnant with jack so it's basically family. i felt like i was living with TWO toddlers.

now i'm starting to think maybe we should just all have separate dinners. i already make two each night, since jack is hungry around 5 and b doesn't get home till after 6. why not just eat with jack and make b fend for himself if he's so picky?

i know a lot of my friends don't meal plan, or they have their husbands cook, or they don't worry so much about dinner. maybe i'm trying too hard to push my mom's round-peg example into my square-hole life and should just give it up. should i make b start cooking his own meals? should we trade off? or is it my motherly duty to just suck it up and meal plan the heck out of the comfort foods i despise?

so...i guess i need help. any tips or suggestions on dealing with dinnertime? seriously. we need it.


The Andelins said...

OK, so i totally get where you are coming from!! Here is what we've done... hope it helps somewhat!!

We have a notebook where I write down any meals we like. Sometimes I feel like I make the same 5 things over and over, and it is nice to flip open the book and see ideas that I know we'll enjoy!! We have a section for main dishes, and side dishes, cuz I swear sometimes ALL i can think of for a side is rice pilaf or broccoli.

Another thing we have recently started doing is getting recipes off pinterest. Some are great, some are so-so. I print the recipe off, and after I make it, i either keep it if it was something we liked, or throw it away (and delete the pin!) after.

I'm lucky, cuz Rich eats everything-- so that is nice- if he refused to eat something I made, I'd make HIM cook the next day!! (c:

Hope that helps!! I have such a hard time coming up with new dinner ideas. I've even toyed around with making a blog or FB group called "What We Ate" where people I trust can contribute (with pictures, cuz I have to have pictures) things they ate that they loved. Someday maybe...?

P.S. Sorry for my novel (c:

The Hunt House said...

THIS IS ME EXACTLY! There is even less time to prepare with each additional child! :) I try and plan each SUnday night. It's so time consuming. I even looked at websites where you can pay for menus/grocery lists for 1 year or something like that. Yeah NO thanks. Plus, the meals were all like Mac N cheese and super gross looking. I think you are super wise to try for this goal and I think you should NEVER downplay the importance of mealtime. It does so many things for a family besides feed them. I try and simplify 2 meals a week and add one night of left overs. I also give Aaron 1 night to either cook or figure out take out, etc. That lightens my load. Best of luck! Just keep'll find that you get faster at planning.

LB3K said...

i am SO glad you wrote this! i feel the exact same way-- and it only gets worse as you add more kiddos. one loves the meal and asks for it weekly, dad hates it and would rather NEVER have it, one kid likes it one week, won't eat it the next week and the third never eats anything. and trying to eat healthy on top of that? yeah right! and THEN, on top of that, if i find something (magically) that everyone will eat, b and i get tired of it after a few months and it gets thrown out. i don't remember my dad EVER complaining about anything my mom cooked-- EVER! but b? he only likes about 1 meal out of every 5. . . and when i really put effort into it, it gets really hard to take. i think our generation needs to find a new system, i am just not sure what that is. if you come up with anything, please share! ;0) sorry, that wasn't very helpful. . . but i do feel your pain!

Summer Sarah Wang said...

I couldn't agree with you more! Same story over here except the hubs isn't home most of the time to eat the dinner I slaved over but expects one when he does show up. Sigh. The thing that has helped me the most is the cookbook Our Best Bites. I've made more from that book in the last 3 months than I have in the last 3 yrs of our marriage. I don't like cooking and am not good at it, but these have turned out alright, even if it does take me 2-3 times longer than what it says.... And it has rollover ingredients which is nice since we throw out half our stuff cuz we don't use it all in time. And don't even get me started with what to feed the kid--ugh! But keep on keepin' on. I'm told we'll get better over time... :)

Sarah Ann said...

1. You are so not alone in this. Way to go for trying so hard, your family is so lucky to have a mom/wife like you.

2. I think being together as a family during dinner is what is important - it doesn't matter if it was a gourmet meal, if everyone ate the exact same meal or even if everyone liked it :).

3. I got this idea from Becky O.'s blog - we have a Fend For Your Self (FFYS) night about once a week. Its great for using up leftovers or a night when you cant eat together. And the pressure is off you for a night.

4. One of the easiest meals that works for us is to get a rotisserie chicken. I can make myself a salad and top with some chicken breast while Kevin eats the dark meat with some instant mashed potatoes :). I also love making cafe Rio style pork, again I can have a salad and Kevin can have a burrito.

5. Cooking with a little one is impossible. I will email you some recipes for easy slow cooler or make ahead meals. Hang in there!

Angela and Mike said...

DEAR friend,

I, too, am a failure at dinner preparedness/making. So, take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one. What I believe is important, is trying, even if you aren't really succeeding. Because all little Jack man will remember is what YOU remember, having meals with the fam. So, take it easy on yourself...and make sure more than half your meals are easy GO TO meals. We have homemade pizza, grilled cheese, and hawaiian haystacks EVERY WEEK.

Next, tell b that you appreciate his opinion...but actually you don't. Tell him to just tell you that he likes everything... OR ELSE you aren't cooking :) I'm sure he prefers you cooking not ideal meals to you not cooking at all :)

Alison Rae said...

OMG Lindsey, we are kindred spirits lately! I have been feeling the same way! My Mom always cooked every night too and I am also trying to live up to that because that is what I feel like I am "supposed" to do. It does take a lot of planning and I have definitely not mastered it yet. I don't have too much advice because I am curious about this too, but I do know that we are generally way too hard on ourselves and it is pretty safe to say that most of the time we just need to relax!

Alison Rae said...

Lyndsey* Sorry!! :)

Brandon and Erica said...

You crack me up.....mainly because I feel like you LIVE my life, the only difference blog about it :) I think I make the exact same 8 meals in a we have the same meal about 3x a month. BORING. So with that, I've got no advice.

Maybe we should start email-swapping our meal-plans again...that always helped me + got me excited to try new things. can look at my Pinterest Board...I know, I'm so hip.

You're a great wife, mom and even better chef. Momma P is proud.

Suzana said...

I hear you on the meal planning. I need to do it today... actually right now... and i'm avoiding it like the plague. Tell B to man up and eat what you make! And if not then yes, make your own meals! Pinterest has been my go-to for meal ideas lately and when I find a good one it goes into my stash of favorites. I think in order to be an effective menu planner you just have to take the time to do it, however you decide to do it. It just takes time and planning. Boo.

The Mid Life Guru said...

FYI-We have eaten out every night this week and I kind of like it even though it is not healthy. You are doing a magnificent job so don't be so hard on your self. The meal planning just kept me sane on busy days and to quit hearing, "What are we having for dinner?" I've simplified lately. I make sure I hit a "category" once a week so we aren't bored: Mexican, Asian, Breakfast, Comfort, Raw, Italian, Food Storage/Leftovers. It seems to work.