I love my family! And I love to cook. Check that. I used to enjoy cooking. Or… I enjoy cooking for people who will eat and appreciate whatever I prepare. Unfortunately, that is not the situation in my home these days.
Two of my three children have or had food allergies, which made feeding times challenging when they were toddlers. My oldest (now 9) was allergic to lots of things, including dairy products, tomato, citrus, strawberries, soy, peanut butter… Just about “everything.” My second (now 7) was allergic to wheat. The set of foods that they both could and would eat was extremely small.
Mercifully, the youngest (just turned 4) doesn’t have any food allergies. Hallelujah!
To make a long story short, what started out as cooking to accommodate the kids’ allergies and prevent anaphylaxis, has developed into a habit of me running a Denny’s in my own kitchen. I’m like a short-order cook behind the counter. One wants macaroni without cheese (he’s allergic to cheese), the other wants French toast (he could eat macaroni, but won’t), and the Hubby prefers a normal meal, but nothing with peas, beans, or potatoes.
Ding! Order up!
Do you see why I’m going insane?! Every day, every meal, I’m running around the kitchen. Water boiling, toast toasting, microwave nuking, etc. Kiss my grits! (Flo, the sassy waitress at Mel’s Diner in the sitcom “Alice,” remember?)
I finally came up with an idea to make things a little bit easier on myself. It’s been in effect for a grand total of two days, but it’s working pretty well so far. In case there are any other overworked, kitchen-weary parents out there, I thought I’d share my solution.
At dinner on Sunday, I told the crew that I wasn’t going to take special orders any longer. I assigned Hubby and the kids the task of agreeing on five dinners that they would ALL eat. If this sounds ridiculous to you, you must have an easy family to feed, because it was no easy project for my bunch.
After about 30 minutes of lively discussion, they had assembled this list:
- Pizza night
- Taco/Nacho night
- Spaghetti and breadsticks night
- Snack/Buffet night (fruit, cheese, yogurt, bread, etc.)
- Grill night (burgers, brats, etc.)
Those five things will be rotated each week, and on the other two days, we’ll have leftovers or something special.
So that’s the plan. I’m feeling saner already. I went grocery shopping today and bought everything I’ll need for the rest of the week. And the ritual of 5:00 dinner panic has come to an end. Let’s hope they still like pizza a month from now. 🙂 Cheers!