You look at the clock and it is dinner time and you remind yourself that mom cooks one meal. Your preschooler who is “helping you” in the kitchen is asking for mac and cheese. Another kiddo is asking for chicken noodle soup. You want a salad and you know your hubby will want chicken wings when he gets home from work.
Wait a minute.
You are not a short order cook. Your job is not to stress yourself out every night making separate meals for each member of your family. I get it, though. I am a mom, too. You want to make everyone happy and you want to make sure everyone goes to bed with full bellies. However, you may be making dinner time more work and more stressful than it needs to be.
It seems that our culture is really into making each other happy, which is a good thing, unless it makes you unhappy in the meantime. A stressful mother is not a happy mother. Cooking 6 meals a night may be fun for some, but for me… it is stressful.
“In France, children eat three meals a day and have one snack around 4 p.m. Adults generally don't have this afternoon snack. Of course, things are changing in France, as more and more people break away with tradition and snack more often. But after a stay in France outside of big cities, and coming back to America, you ™d think you were dealing with two separate races of humans: one who only requires to eat 2 or 3 times a day, and one who seemingly must eat every 2 hours to survive! Guess which is which?” ~Frederic Patenaude
Another common thing here is that we allow our kids to choose their own meals, instead of every family having the same meal. It seems that having the same meal was common when we were children, but with the convenience of foods make it easy to make so many meals a night. I want to encourage you to cook one meal for your family…
Here are my 10 tips to allow yourself to be a mom who only cooks one meal:
- Get your kids involved in meal planning – Dinners don’t have to be fancy. Heck, you could even make my healthy real food pumpkin cinnamon pancakes! My grandma’s spanish rice is a go-to in our house. It is a great way to hide a bunch of veggies for the kids – and hubby too! I love to make meals where the kids can get creative and try different veggies – taco bar, soups with different toppings, omelet stations, and chopped salads.
- Have the kids pick the vegetable – I have my girls pick the veggie they want to have. I ask, “Girls, what green do you want for dinner?” They can pick from green beans, sautÃ©ed greens, steamed broccoli or even some salad.
- Put together a list of easy, affordable, real-food meals to choose from – I love to pin recipes that are family favorites so I can find them easily. I also love to use my mom’s recipes as a base and play around with them to make them healthier. Keep track of the recipes that the kids love and save them for future weeks!
- Display the meal plan for the week in the kitchen – We have a big chalkboard wall in our kitchen where I display the meals for the week. This way, everyone in the family knows what is for dinner each night. This has saved us from a lot of questions and confusion.
- Have your kids help at the grocery store – I love to bring the kids with me to the store to show them where the ingredients come from. I think kids are more likely to try new foods when they are involved in the entire process.
- Have your kids help with the cooking – There are things that kids can do in the kitchen to help you at every age. Even preschoolers can help you make something easy like granola. Schedule a day when your kids cook dinner with daddy. After school, make some healthy snacks with the kids to get them in the kitchen.
- Make the dining area “look fancy” – My girls love to have our dining room look nice when daddy gets home from work. Light a candle. Clear off all of the papers and toys from the dining room table. Small changes really make the meal more special!
- Have the kids play “restaurant” – My girls love to pretend they are waitresses. They wear aprons and jot down our orders!
- Put a little of everything on their plates – Even if you don’t think they will like it, give them a little of everything. Over time, I bet they eventually try those veggies they claim they don’t like!
- After dinner, ask everyone what they thought of the meal – My girls are great eaters so now I will ask them what they thought of the dinner. Wait until everyone is done eating before you ask. If you ask while they are eating, you might get some negative comments and push back.
Remember that every day is a new opportunity to try something new. Try not to get discouraged. Meal time doesn’t have to be a stressful time of the day. Hang in there mama and stand strong on only making one meal for dinner.
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