One of the great parts of gabbing into the wee hours of the night with close friends is discovering the obvious and making sound decisions based upon those realizations. I made such a decision during my weekend retreat which is that I am scaling down my dinner menus. By a lot.
It kills me to write this because, if you don’t know this about me, I love love love food and trying new recipes and eating various cuisines. A regular foodie, if you will. But I had to ask myself, “What’s the point?” At this stage in my life, planning, shopping for, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up exotic dishes that my kids sometimes reluctantly eat is not worth it. To his credit, Warren generally does eat most meals that I prepare. Maddie will often surprise me, too. But the main point is, the kids do not care if I make Curried Cauliflower & Potatoes with Basmati Rice or if I steam some cauliflower and serve it with mac & cheese. So why am I killing myself to do it? When I’ve got Maddie screeching for food while pulling on my leg and Warren trying to get my attention about some building project he’s working on and Colin has just walked in the door, does chopping the six ingredients for a 5-step meal make any sense?
I went a long time thinking that my culinary efforts were worth it because it was going to make them love food as much as I do. That their appreciation for bold flavors and different cuisines would help them appreciate variety. Maybe even prevent them from becoming picky eaters. Perhaps, but I’m not convinced. For one thing, I grew up eating pinto beans, tortillas, beef and potato stew, and macaroni and cheese on a weekly basis. I only wanted plain cheeseburgers from McDonald’s (no ketchup or mustard) and wouldn’t eat split pea soup to save my life. I didn’t try half as many types of foods that Ren and Madds have tried until I was in my early twenties! I obviously changed somewhere along the line. I’m banking on that happening to their tastes, as well.
So instead of Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragù and Smoked Mozzarella which is ridiculously good (thanks again, Hilary!) I’m happy to make baked potatoes and green salad. Or pinto beans or spaghetti and prepackaged meatballs. Weeks 1 and 2 have been a smashing success since implementing this new plan. I feel like I have more time with the kids and that’s really what it’s all about.
But I promise, if you come to my house for dinner, I won’t serve you mac & cheese. Just make sure I know in advance that you’re coming.