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My Third Job

December 15, 2009

Trying to figure out what to make for dinner is like having a second job. Actually, being a dedicated wife/mother is my second job so figuring out what to make for dinner is technically my third job.  While there are only three of us to cook for, we might as well be a family of 10 considering how many likes and dislikes I have to consider at mealtimes.

I’ll admit that I am probably the most demanding what with my 100+ food allergies. Plus I don’t eat meat or chicken and I don’t like to eat too much fish either. That doesn’t leave a whole lot to choose from other than eggs, vegetables, and fruit.  I am single-handedly ensuring the livelihood of cage-free organically grown chickens and organically grown zucchini.  Anyway, I figure that since I am the one who cooks everything I have a license to be demanding, right?

So we have Maya who doesn’t particularly care for chicken or fish unless it has been battered, salted, breaded, frozen, salted some more, and then defrosted. She doesn’t like hamburgers. She isn’t a huge fan of homemade pizza (not enough grease maybe?) but she’ll go to town on Dominos Pizza.  She doesn’t (knowingly) eat lots of vegetables except for broccoli, corn, and sometimes carrots and cucumbers. She is the only child on the planet who doesn’t like potatoes. So what does she eat? Maya could easily live off of bread and cheese. This would be no problem if we lived in Paris but while Ali tries to figure out a way to make a millions so we can live large near St-Germain-des-Prés, I’m trying to get Maya to eat a lot more than just cheese sandwiches.

Ali has come a long way with his eating habits. A few years ago he wouldn’t consider eating a meal that didn’t contain a dead animal. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut were staples in his diet.  Chalupa, anyone?  I’m happy to say that these days he will often ask for a vegetarian meal. We have made huge strides!  But alas, dinner still isn’t as easy as giving him the same thing I eat. His idea of a vegetarian meal is a giant plate of pasta covered in spaghetti sauce (no parmesan cheese of course as that would be greeted with a “what’s this white stuff” comment).  He won’t eat fish unless it involves going to Chili’s and having what he deems the best Tilapia ever.  Yes, that’s right, apparently Chili’s has cornered the market on Tilapia.  He’ll do vegetables occasionally but they usually need to be covered in some type of oil or sauce and never, ever in their original raw state.  Try to hand him a raw carrot and things could get ugly. 

So today after picking Maya up from school and taking a short detour to the library where we read 10 Christmas books as she made herself at home:

I immediately came home, put my stuff down, and set to work figuring out dinner.  Maya wanted the early bird special, i.e. whatever I could pull together in 5 minutes because apparently “they had pretzels at snack time Mama, and I HATE pretzels.”  So at 5:30 Maya had a fried egg, toast, broccoli, and an unpictured orange.  Dinner of champions.

She ate the entire thing without complaint. 

“Why are you taking pictures of my empty plate Mama?”

“Cause Mom’s nuts, Pokey, that’s why.”

While Maya ate her dinner, I cleaned up her lunch box and started on Ali’s dinner. 

Two tortillas with shredded chicken, spinach, mozzarella cheese, and roasted zucchini on the side. 

While he devoured his meal Maya played on the Wii for her allotted half an hour.  “I want to play the game that breaks things, Daddy.”  Lovely. 

Meanwhile, I opened the nearly empty fridge praying for a miracle that would deliver me from another egg based dinner.  God heard my prayers because I managed to pull together a pretty decent dinner via the freezer:

A TJ’s Salmon patty, roasted zucchini, and tomatoes on my Eiffel Tower plate.  I swear everything tastes better on it.  I ate in the kitchen with the company of my new library book. 

And then yes, you guessed it, I cleaned up the kitchen again.

So this eating in stages thing is really irritating.  Making 3 different meals for dinner each night is even more annoying.  I don’t want to spend 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen cooking and intermittently cleaning when I could be spending quality time in front of the TV with Maya. 

Does anyone else have to make different meals for all members of their household?  Any suggestions on how to stop the madness?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2009 7:51 am

    That’s a hard one. I am definitely one of those moms out there that does NOT cook three separate meals. I can easily see everyone, but me, being thrilled with that option, but I think when you don’t make that option available…everyone adjusts. It may take some getting used to, and probably some tears will be involved, but once everyone learns that we eat together as a family, and we what the family is eating.

    Now with that being said, that doesn’t mean there can’t be small accomodations within the same meal. It sounds like you and Maya could actually be eating very similarly…she sounds like converting her to a vegetarian diet would be no big deal.

    Cook one meal, small on the amount of meat, since just Ali will eat that, large on the veggie side since everyone will eat that, find a starch too that everyone likes. I’ve found in my own home once I eliminate a lot of the snacky foods for my children then they are more likely to eat what’s on their plate b/c they are hungry.

    Again, it will take some adjustment to new expectations, but it’s really all about setting the tone of what’s expected come dinner time. What you are doing by cooking a meal is a gift to those who receive it. We are always told to receive gifts with gratitude! 🙂

    Best wishes! You can do it!!!

    • December 16, 2009 12:07 pm

      Thank you for the suggestions. I know that eventually everyone will adapt if I just cook one thing but I sometimes feel its unfair for them to be held back by my allergies, etc.!

  2. December 16, 2009 8:59 am

    I really like what Tiffanie said. I agree.

    We have an interesting mode…My husband is home with our son days and I get my Mom time nights and weekends. So some dinners he cooks ( and they are not what I would cook but when you have a 11 hour day, you say thank you, and do your best) when I cook they get fed very big plates of plant based foods, most of which they are all learning to enjoy ( I also have a teenager who is willing to try new things) (plus he’s always hungry)

    it’s a slow progression with husbands. My toddler ate “my way” since birth and he happily eats/ drinks green things. Husband does the “grilling of meat” when he wants it and he and the Teen enjoy that…I definately don’t short order cook. I am always trying to “healthify” old recipes too…like pancakes…whatever.

    some days it works and sometimes I make them a good old fashioned batch of something they love. it’s a balance.

    I understand you have food that does complicate things …for sure!

    good luck!

    • December 16, 2009 12:08 pm

      Starting your toddler from birth was a smart idea. I tried to do that as well but working kind of made things like chicken nuggets an easy fix when I was tired.

  3. ajalaa permalink
    December 16, 2009 10:28 am

    My little boy has just come around and become much more open to veggies, beans, rice, quinoa . . . I always try to get him to eat what I am eating. You never know, Maya may suprise you one day. I’m lucky that my hubby will happily eat anything and doesn’t mind never having meat at home.

    • December 16, 2009 12:09 pm

      You are super lucky that your husband is easy going! I love quinoa and I’m hoping to get Maya to like it eventually!

  4. December 16, 2009 10:32 am

    It depends on the night and what evening activities are going on. My girls are picky but I have found recipes to make a 2 for meal that incorporates the same ingredients but may look differently on the plate. If my girls could eat mac and cheese every day of the week they could.

    • December 16, 2009 12:09 pm

      I agree that sometimes its all about how something looks on the plate!

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