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On Your Table Blog

March 6, 2019

The struggle is real

What's for dinner?

The struggle is real

This post first appeared on OYT last year about this time. It was so much fun, we decided to share it again!

By Alysa Leier

“If I have to cook another [insert kid-friendly food choice here] I’m going to puke!”

Sound familiar? As a mom of two kids (7 and 5) it’s definitely something I’ve said/mumbled a few times. I have just enough stubbornness that I can out-wait my kids at the table if I need to get them to eat something. Sometimes I just have to make foods I know they’re going to eat without a fight. My kids aren’t saints. I’m not Super Mom. We have our share of fights and tears at the table over cooked carrots and needing ranch or cheese or whatever for whichever vegetable we are having (that they couldn’t possibly stomach as is). But honestly, the biggest problem we have at our house is deciding what we are going to eat.

As parents, we make decisions constantly, and even though I know that my food choices now will affect my kids’ choices later, I still struggle with these seemingly innocent decisions. It’s almost as if there are too many choices! Are we having beef? We raise cattle for beef so this is an obvious choice. How about chicken? It’s a healthy protein. Pork? Bacon makes everything better! Or maybe fish — hello Omega 3. What vegetables are we adding? How about sides? Is it a hot dish, or a slow cooker meal, or is everything cooking individually?

And then society says I have to worry about all sorts of other things: GMOs (they’ve been repeatedly proven safe); pesticides (less than a Venti, non-fat, hazelnut latte’s-worth is used on an area the size of a football field); antibiotics (they’re undetectable in an animal long before it is food in a grocery store); and gluten (thankfully none of us have celiac disease so that is zero concern for us). I definitely need to start menu planning!

Kids making french fries

If I ask my kids what they want, it will undoubtedly be a pasta dish, but that’s not happening every night, so I still have to decide, and fast! Sometimes…shh…it’s just a sandwich and chips in front of the TV. Maybe it’s breakfast for dinner (and “dinner”—is that a daytime meal or a nighttime meal?). Often, it’s leftovers, because I still haven’t figured out how to cook for only 4 people. Mostly (more often than not), it’s a combination of random foods I’ve found in my fridge/cupboards/pantry that may or may not actually cover all of the nutritional needs for that meal. Infrequently, it’s a meal I’ve carefully planned and prepared ahead of time. And rarely, but by far the quickest to be devoured, is fast food.

Kids helping to make burgers

In the end, although they’ll eat anything from asparagus to zucchini, sometimes all they want is chicken nuggets (and sometimes all I want is chocolate). And my husband? Well he’s another adventure entirely, but at least he can cook for himself.