This. That. Mom.

Some of this and some of that. Musings of an ordinary mom.

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Always, Sometimes, Never: Menu for the Week #5

One of our sanity-saving food observations over the last ten years has been the classification of foods into the categories of Always, Sometimes, and Never (and not the Sesame-Street-type categories):

“Always” – a food the children will eat even if they are full. Examples: fruit, chocolate, steak, yogurt, roast chicken, tacos, homemade chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, bacon, eggs, cheese, nuts, any kind of doughy carbohydrate.

“Sometimes” – a food the children will eat if they are hungry enough, trying to earn a dessert, or in a good mood. Examples: meatloaf, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, casseroles, never-seen-before foods, fish.

“Never” – a food that the children would not choose over going to bed hungry. Examples: shrimp, tuna, mushrooms.

We use these unofficial classifications of food (designated by years of kid reactions) to help encourage the kids to eat the way that we think they should be eating. When the kids are waiting for dinner and are “starving,” we offer Sometimes Foods to snack on, and when we serve them their first plate of food (the kids eat one plate of food that we serve them, then may have seconds of whatever they would like), we fill it with Sometimes Foods. 

Healthy Always Foods are served after the kids eat their Sometimes Foods. Nuts, cheese, yogurt and fruit are usually reserved for school lunches, when we’re not available to supervise the kids’ eating. We also serve fruit as dessert after dinner. As I mentioned last week, breads, pastas and treats are saved for treats. 

As for the Never Foods. . . . we don’t prepare them often. If all six kids gag on a food, cry about a food or would prefer to go to bed without eating over trying it, we save that food for Date Night (or, as with mushrooms, save it for Sisters Night). Every once in a while, we encourage the kids to give it a try, but we don’t push it. We fight plenty of battles here, and we choose to let that one go. Luckily, that list of foods is short and getting shorter all the time. But you probably won’t be seeing shrimp on our weekly dinner menus anytime in the near future.

Dinner for the Week.

Monday: Cauliflower and Sausage Casserole and Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday: Spinach Quinoa “Mac and Cheese” and Salad

Wednesday: Lemon Chicken and Rice and Green Beans 

Thursday: Salmon Cakes and Lemonade Broccoli

Friday: Cashew Waffles and fruit salad

Saturday: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Sweet and Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

Do your kids have Never Foods that you choose not to prepare?

What’s for dinner at your house this week?


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The Thing about Dinner: Menu for the Week #2

The thing about dinner is that it’s not just about the food. I love the food; I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to feed people. But, more than just food, dinner is a meal – a time for us to come together as a family and take a break from everything else. To share about our days. To talk about what’s coming up. To just be together. And that’s the reason behind our next dinner rule.

Family Dinner Rule #2:

2. Everyone sits and participates in dinnertime, even if he/she chooses not to eat. Sometimes our kids choose not to eat because they don’t like what we’re having. And sometimes they get upset about it. But they are expected to put on a nice face and participate in our dinnertime discussion. Rudeness and bad manners are not permitted, and they are punished with timeout (or an extra chore for the older kids).

And those are all of our rules. Just two. We have other ideas and strategies that have helped us overcome our picky-eating epidemic and enjoy dinner as a family, but those are the only rules.

Here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week.

Monday: Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

Tuesday: Potato, Cauliflower and White Bean Soup

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Salads

Thursday: Meatloaf and Green Beans

Friday: Red Pepper Frittata Squares and Brussels Sprouts

Saturday: Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

A couple people asked me last week what we eat on Sundays, which I don’t include on our weekly menus. We usually just eat leftovers and whatever we can throw together easily because the time I spend in the kitchen on Sunday is usually used prepping lunches and dinners for the upcoming week.

What dinner rules help you enjoy dinnertime as a family?

Trying any new recipes this week?