Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's for dinner?

Warning- I'm going to whine!

Have you ever reached the point where you are just so tired of figuring out what to fix for dinner?

I don't mind cooking, in fact, I really enjoy cooking. (the cooking part, not the actual cleaning up part) I have just had it with trying to figure out what I can cook.

No matter what I fix, I know that someone will be unhappy, and possibly highly offended by what I make for the family to eat. Last week as I was fixing dinner, the whole time I was cooking, I knew that one of the children, upon finding out that night's menu, would say something like "Do you really expect me to eat this?" or "You don't love me. If you loved me then you wouldn't fix food that I don't like!" (and they did)
Or my other personal favorite, the glaring at me from across the table, because the food is deemed inedible by a particular child.
The teenager has stopped these things because he recognizes that any food I make is generally edible, and with a hollow leg to fill, one can't be too picky. (which is a refreshing change from when he was younger and a very picky eater)
Max is still in the stage where he will only eat eggo waffles, PB&J sandwiches and Easy mac & cheese. Occasionally, I can get him to try whatever we're having for dinner, he will try one bite, say it's yummy, then refuse to eat any more.
I have always told the kids that they don't have to eat what I fix, they can make something for themselves, however, I'm not a short order cook, and will NOT fix a different meal for everyone.

Still, I do try to fix something that I know that everyone will like. On the rare occasion when I find something that everyone likes, I put it on my "keeper" list and try and fix it again.
The problem is that we still end up eating about the same 8 meals over and over and over.
These are the meals that I have cooked so many times that I could fix them in my sleep.
There's nothing wrong with these, aside from the fact that I am really getting sick of them!

Every once in a while I will try a new recipe, I tried two new recipes last week, and while I did like both of them, (my husband liked them too) the kids weren't in complete agreement.

The one thing that my family all agrees on is my homemade lasagna. Unfortunately, it takes over two hours from start to finish, and that's just not the amount of time that I can spend on dinner every night.
Something that really bugs me is when I get asked, multiple times a day, by multiple family members, my least favorite question "What's for dinner?"
This bothers me because generally, I have no clue what I'm going to make for dinner until I actually start making it.

Today, I made a management decision, and wrote up a menu of what we will be eating for the week. I've written the menu on our big dry erase board in the kitchen, where everyone can see, and prepare alternate food if they so wish.
I even went a step further and decided what I would be fixing for lunches this week too.

I know that I still won't make everyone happy, but at least I'll know what I'm doing.

What do you do when you run out of ideas or get sick of fixing the same things for dinner every night?
(or is it just me?)


Mum-me said...

A menu plan saved my life several years ago. I was in the same situation as you describe, but now they can read what's for dinner and get their whining over and done with before it actually hits the table. I have 10 fornightly meal plans (because we shop fortnightly), 5 for winter and 5 for summer. Although favourites like lasagne are on the list more frequently, it does mean we don't get into that 'Oh no, not this dinner AGAIN!' rut.

And not everybody likes everything on the menus (my 3rd daughter is extremely fussy) but we do insist they have a little bit of everything on their plate before fleeing the scene.

Oh, and when they do complain, or especially when they say it is disgusting or revolting I tell them that it's rude to insult the person who prepares their food. Now my son says "This vegetable doesn't taste very good TO ME." rather than "How gross!"

Annette Lyon said...

It's not just you. I HATE cooking, and I HATE getting the question, "What's for dinner?"

(One tip on the lasagna--you don't need to cook the noodles first. Really, you don't. I never, ever have. Just add a couple of TB of water to the bottom of the pan and make sure to cook the whole thing about an hour with foil on top to keep the moisture in. They soften right up. So much easier than the mess of wet noodles.)

b. said...

(absolutely agree with A. Lyon-you don't have to cook the noodles, actually better if you don't)

YES, a thousand times yes!
I put in the effort to fix a great dinner and suddenly nobody's hungry or they've all got "plans". Ugh!

If it's not the traditional Sunday meat, potatoes and's a risk!

Dianne said...

When they start the what's for dinner whine, calmly look them straight in the eye and say, "I don't know. What are you fixing?"

Kristina P. said...

I am unlike you in that I just recently started cooking. We used to eat out every day, for all our meals, but we need to tighten our budget.

I made Chili with cornbread last night. It was delicious.

Jen said...

I love having it in advance. I do two weeks, and then I just pick whatever sounds good or whatever food needs to be eaten soonest. Best of luck to you in your culinary pursuits. Just tell them to be glad you aren't always putting wheat grass juice in everything or making them eat plain TOFU.

Jillene said...

I find myself in the same boat as you. I call out to my friends and ask for their tried and true recipes. My kids are picky too but my rule is you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. I don't let them fix another alternative. I guess I am mean like that. If you would like to swap some recipes--e-mail me.

I also make a 2 week menu that stays on the fridge. I make sure to get everyone's input on what they would like but it is always right there for all too see. That way they know what is coming.

Chief said...

I feel guilty that I cant commiserate with you on this one Jill. Duke does all the cooking and I do all the complaining. SOrry!

MaeRae said...

all complaints ended in my house when anyone over the age of 12 had one night a week that they were responsible for cooking. Granted one night a week we know we are having pasta and one night a week we are having shephards pie. But they don't complain any more (unless someone *me* has snuck mushrooms into the dinner)

Rachel Sue said...

I could have written this post. (Minus the part about the teenager. I don't have one of those yet) Except that isn't so much my kids as it is my husband. He is the pickiest man alive. My kids like more foods than he does. It is SO HARD to find things that he likes and I can almost guarantee that at least twice a week we have something that he doesn't really like but will choke down any way. It drives me crazy.

Karen said...

Allow each child to have a night where they plan the menu. That way they have something they like at least one night per week.

marythemom said...

Oh my goodness I have sooo been there. Hubby has a couple of recipes that are family favorites, probably because they take forever to cook and he only makes them once a month or less.

There is never a night that I make something they all like. Sometimes none of them like it. *sigh* If they don't like it they can have leftovers.

They have all learned to stop insulting the mama's cooking though! I got tired of putting up with it.

Mary in TX

Jessica G. said...

Awesome idea to post the menu! My eldest eats anything while the Boy is just like Max (except I can't get him to actually try something new).

I'll send you my chicken parmesan recipe, if you want it. It's really easy and tastes pretty dang good. It's what I usually serve to company. :)

val of the south said...

Our rule is - if you don't like it - there's pb&j that you make yourself.

I put one over on my pickiest eaters ~ I made lasagne Sunday and used whole wheat noodles and pureed a bunch of fresh spinach in the sauce - amazingly enough neither my husband or my two boys noticed and they all loved it ~ if they'd had any clue - no one would have even tried it!

marythemom said...

Oooh I do that all the time. I've used baby food if I'm feeling lazy. I've also put frozen veggies - I like Normandy blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) - in the blender and chopped it up finely. It looks like confetti in spaghetti sauce and they don't complain (did this until my blender broke). I liked this better than the pureed veggies which can change the color of the sauce. (Green spinach plus red tomato sauce looks bleechy brown). Squashes are fun to put in things too. I like zucchini or carrots that are shredded like coconut. We only use whole wheat bread and noodles and brown rice so my kids are used to it.

Sneaking veggies in may be why they hate it when I cook though...

Mary in TX

mommeeof9 said...

Hubby always make easy stuff on the nights I work. Frozen corn dogs, spaghetti, french toast, frozen lasagna, etc. I try to make real food-roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, apple pie, etc when I cook.

The kids can eat what is cooked, make a sandwich, eat leftovers or go hungry.

LisAway said...

I love to cook, too, and somehow found myself in the habit of putting things away (and washing bowls and pans) as I go, so I don't mind the clean up too much, either. But of course I hear you about the complaining.

Growing up we could always eat what mom made or we could make ourselves a PB sandwich. Which we all ate for lunch. Every day. And didn't want for dinner, too. I think it was a good system.

My husband disagrees, however. If the kids don't like something they can dish it up for themselves and have to eat whatever they dish up. If they don't they're supposed to pay for it (technically, but I don't think we've actually made them. . .) He also doesn't put up with whining or making rude comment about the food. Now I agree and I feel it's so rude if I spend an hour or more in the kitchen and they whine about my creation. :)

Bonnie the Boss said...

I am sitting here right now reading your blog instead of figuring that out. I don't enjoy fixing dinner. Mostly becausae I hate coming up with ideas.