Cooking for Five

There is so much that I wanted to write about today but when I sat down at the computer, my mind went blank and now I don’t remember any of it. If you knew me IRL you’d be hard pressed to believe that I had nothing to say but I guess typing is different.

I think I wanted to talk about how hard it is to find things for the whole family to eat. I know at my house, we go out to eat probably more than we should. Not because we don’t like to cook or anything like that. I do enjoy cooking. It’s because there are five people with such strong opinions about food in this house. Everybody has to say something about dinner. I often feel like a short-order cook.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. One kid likes his hamburgers burnt to a crisp, Husband would rather his basically moo at him, one kid just wants to eat the fixin’s and not the actual burger, and the other one won’t eat hamburgers at all and insists I make a hot dog instead. Then there’s me, who will eat a burger any which way if it means I don’t have to cook it. When I do make them myself, mine has to be medium-well, with swiss cheese, lettuce, a slice of tomato, bacon, and BBQ sauce.

Every meal is like this. I am sure this is something you can all relate to. So eating out, where somebody else is going to deal with all these weird dietary requests, often seems like a good idea. It is also impractical and expensive, so I am trying to come up with alternatives (as every eatery in a 25-mile radius either groans with sadness at the loss of a cash cow or squeals with glee that we might not darken their doors as often) for real mealtimes at home.

One thing I am doing, which the kids can’t stand, is making everyone meal plan and go shopping with me. The kids each get to pick one dinner menu item per week, and they help make choices about sides and snacks when we’re at the store. They hate that it is extra work for them (before a magical fairy named Mom did all the meal planning and food just mysteriously transported from the store into our fridge and pantry) but I’ve noticed that they actually eat more of what’s on their plate.

The other thing I’m doing is making more items that require assembly. For example: tacos. I make the meat and put out different things everyone can use to top theirs off. While there’s a lot of chopping and dicing and what have you, the actual meal building is up to each individual. That means less complaining and more eating!

What about you? How do you handle meal time with a bunch of people who like food but not the same food? I would love to add more tricks to my arsenal!