Family Meals

I’m a stay at home mum.
We are a bit of an old fashioned type of family where my husband goes out monday – friday earning the bacon and I cook it … every evening 6 o’clock sharp …

Craig is a wonderful cook but by the time he gets home from work and changes out of his work clothes there is not a lot of time left for him to cook.
The kids can’t eat too late as they are only 2 and 4 and frankly i’d rather he spends what time he has playing with them and not cooking dinner.

I grew up with a single working mum where meals eaten together as a Family were rare and often rushed.

One of the things people often remember most fondly about their childhood is having meals together as a family.
Sitting around a table and enjoying good food while connecting and hearing about each others lives can be such joy for a busy family.
I think it is important that children grow up with a decent cooked meal each day, that they learn to appreciate different foods and that everyone eats the same meal.
I never cook different meals for the children. I have adapted some of my recipes so that they are suitable for the whole family …
Cooking for children can be really tricky … I always thought that fussy eaters are due to over leanient parents … I have been proven wrong !!!

I have found out that apparently it is developmentally very common for children to go through a fussy phase somewhere between their 2nd and 4th birthday …
It’s supposedly an evolutionary thing where the natural suspicion towards unknown foods prevented young children from accidentally poisoning themselves …
So I think it is very important to be relaxed about mealtimes so that they in turn can be relaxed and open about food.
Our approach is that they don’t have to eat something if they don’t like it but they do have to at least try the food.
If they really don’t like it they are allowed to spit it out but they do have to try it everytime it is served to them…
Winry really does not like peas but I still put a few on her plate in case she decides to try them one day – you never know …
I do always make sure that there is at least one thing on the plate that I know they will eat – so if i cook peas I will make sure I also cook at least one more veg that I know winry will eat…
Most people probably do this but there you go …
My point is that everyone gets served the same meal and if on the odd occasion everything is rejected (because kids like to test boundaries) there is no alternative …
It might seem strict to some but to us as parents it is very important that our children learn to accept and enjoy a variety of food without dinner table tantrums.

Children go through phases of eating very little so it can be tempting to cook things they will definitely eat to make sure they don’t starve… In rare cases you can end up with a kid who will only eat jacket potatoes and beans or spaghetti which I would imagine is a habit that could prove tricky to reverse …

I’m a big believer in the fact that as long as they get offered a variety of nutritious food they will eat as much as they need. Even if that is shockingly little at times. And they will surprise you by trying stuff you never imagined they’d even look at.

Finances are also a very important point when it comes to mealtimes. Money is far from limitless and smart shopping and cooking goes a long way towards having value for money meals.
We hate throwing away food and the way I cook often involves scanning the fridge for what food needs to be eaten and then cooking something out of that. We also freeze a lot.

I realize however that a lot of mothers have to work and that time is a factor there …
I’m also very lucky in that my mother worked as a cook all though my childhood. I pretty much grew up in a Restaurant.
Specials of the day often used to be made from produce that needed using or faced throwing out – which is a big loss of profit of course so my mother became very skilled at making up dishes to avoid waste.
It’s a skill I acquired watching her and I realise that many people find this particularly difficult…

After talking to a few mums on the schoolrun I decided to start a little recipe page where I would share a few easy, cheap, kid-friendly recipes each week…
We all know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut and a little inspiration sometimes goes a long way…

So in this blog today I just wanted to cover a few basics to give those who are interested an overview of how I approach dinnertime …

The way we shop has become quite organised especially since the kids have come along, and we have found this to be very beneficial.
Once a month we do a big food shop. In this we try to cover all the basic foods for the month that don’t expire quickly.
This includes boxes of cereal, dry pasta and rice, a variety of meat – some of which we portion and then freeze, tins of chopped tomatoes and beans, nuts, lentils, stock cubes, condiments, crackers, frozen vegetables ect., household cleaners, toiletteries, nappies and so on.
Then once a week we shop for fresh foods that have a limited shelf life. That would be things like milk, bread, fruit, fresh vegetables, sandwich meats, cheese, yoghurt and eggs.

We mostly buy pretty basic foods that I then cook with. But of course we also buy things like fish fingers or the odd jar of ready made sauce for hectic days or days when I can’t be bothered to cook.
I also buy things like ready made pesto and sachets of cheese sauce because sometimes its just easier and less messy than making these from scratch…

Of course I don’t just cook from “scraps” – I love cooking traditional family dishes but I have now adapted quite a few of them so that they take less time to prepare or are more child friendly by hiding the odd vegetable they otherwise might not eat.

Lastly we do love to forage every now and again and we have a few lovely neighbours around us that let us have stuff like cooking apples, runner beans and courgettes for free. One of the first recipes I intend to share is my courgette soup which has become an absolute family favourite and the kids devour it.

Anyway … that should give you a pretty good idea for now and I do hope that some of you can benefit from it in some way or other …

Until next time…

Ta da

Advertisements