Thursday, March 3, 2011

Keeping meal times interesting

Mommy Daisy wrote yesterday about being in a food rut and I totally know where she's coming from. I've had trouble adjusting to cooking for just the kids and I, now that Jason has moved out and am often faced with hungry kids and no plan.

I joined the discussion in her comments but that got me to thinking about what strategies I use to keep things interesting.

1. Plan
There really is no substitute for planning your meals and snacks when you have a family. Simply put, it's cost effective and efficient and can save your sanity too. That being said, I don't subscribe to the notion that in planning your meals you can't be flexible. For me, that really IS key.

2. Keep it simple
I plan for easy, simple meals whenever our schedule requires it. I really don't want to spend the little money we do have on take out or dining out so having go-to meals helps with that. You can use freezer cooking to have handy meals in your freezer, keep a stocked pantry with your family's favorites or think outside of the box a little.

A couple of months ago my kids were asking for McDonalds after church. Instead, I brought them to the grocery store and we picked out some fruits, yogurt and a treat. We talked about the price difference, health difference and even taste difference. My kids all agreed that the grocery store lunch was the much better option.

Another strategy I've been using lately is creating a snack tray that we can nibble at our leisure, instead of a formal lunch. This is really only for Sunday afternoons and since my boys are with their dad every other Sunday, they only get this twice each month, making it a treat. The picture below is from the first time I created such a tray and I can tell you that it was waaaay too much food! There's cheese, apples, carrots, grapes, crackers, tortilla chips/salsa and some rather boring sandwiches. If I were to do this one again, Id cut out the crackers and make the sandwiches a little more interesting.

3. Have fun with it
If you find yourself making the same old things then try to add a little fun to your routine. Create themed meals around certain days, countries or even colors. Try eating breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast. Serve dessert WITH dinner, just because.
And if you're really out of ideas, ask your kids. They're always full of creative suggestions that Im sure you never would have considered otherwise.

1 comment:

Mommy Daisy said...

Great tips! I use a lot of these myself. :D