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Can Cheerios and Milk be Considered a Balanced Dinner?

There’s one question I struggle with each and every day. It’s not “what should I wear,” though it was for many years. It’s not which route will have the least traffic or did I remember to turn off the stove, or why is my computer so slow. The question that constantly plagues me is what can I put together for dinner? Yes, that’s right, “put together.” I’m past worrying about what I can “cook,” as anything that involves oven time is reserved for holidays, birthdays, and the occasional dinner party.

When I get home from work, my kids are famished, I’m exhausted, and the last thing I want to do is spend time fussing in the kitchen. I prefer to use my last burst of energy for playing. Friends have suggested that I cook several meals on Sunday to use throughout the week. Every six months or so I get motivated and cook a lasagna that gets lost in the freezer until the next time I get motivated. The kids would be perfectly happy to have micro waved mac-n-cheese every night – and frankly so would I. But no matter how I dress it up, the June Cleaver in me tells me that mac-n-cheese for the fourth night in a row simply won’t do.

So I wonder: Can we can have breakfast for dinner, is tomato sauce a vegetable, and will my kids be permanently scarred if they come to believe that dinner comes from the pizza delivery man?


  1. Anonymous June 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    As a single parent for years, I struggled with the “are cheerios dinner?” question, not just for my son, but for myself as well. When my partner came along, my son was a little older, and I was able to work more, but now I had to cook dinner for three instead of two (the third eating almost as much as my son and I put together).

    I don’t think it hurts your kids if once a month you have a breakfast for dinner night with fruit, some yogurt, and cereal.

    There are plenty of things you can get from a can, in a bag, or do before, though, to help mitigate some of the guilt, and to add some extras to your meal. For instance, we do refrigerator soup with 1 can of tomatoes, 1 can of cannelini beans, 1 can of vegetable broth and whatever else we feel like adding.

    Buy your veggies on the weekends, and have your kids help in prepping them for the upcoming week. I peel carrots, slice celery for stir-fry, dice cucumber for tzaziki sauce, and chop apples and walnuts together for oatmeal breakfasts all on sunday. I’ve found it easier to do that and throw together something last minute like stir-fry or soup (both pretty afforable, and easy) than to cook 6 days worth of meals on sunday and hope and pray my 4 year old and I are in the mood for whatever it was I fixed.

    I don’t think your kids will be scarred for life thinking that the delivery guy brings dinner, but I would be a little careful of always using upper-middle class solutions to solve a problem that affects all working families… try budgeting for thai food or pizza only a few times a month, and use their energy to help you cook when you’re fried.

    I hope that helps!

  2. Mr. Curious June 25, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I am a new parent and I struggle with the same questions. One question is how to provide healthy food everyday. Another is the question of what’s considered healthy.

    Checkout these resources
    A tremendous benefit to everyone to read. ( I read the first 2 books there)
    Also the blogs

  3. Anonymous July 2, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    One thing i’ve found helpful, is steaming a batch of veggies on Sunday – carrots, brocolli and green beans are my usual. Then i toss them in tupperware and pull out enough for the meal and heat it up.

    Also, i usually cook a hot meal for my husband and i while the kids are eating their meal and then I make enough so that the next night, they get our meal’s leftovers. Not perfect, but since they need to eat the moment we walk in the door I can’t realistically cook them a hot meal but i can offer them a good meal, albeit a day later..

  4. Sue July 2, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Oh yes, Cheerios can be dinner! My kids adore breakfast for dinner, though I leave pancakes for special occasions and instead serve eggs w/ham and cheese, maybe a pepper if I have one. Add some fruit and you’re good.

    Another great solution is soup. Yes, it comes from a can, but chicken noodle has veggies, protein, etc. Add a grilled cheese sandwich and voila!

    Maybe you just need some new ideas. Try googling crock-pot recipes and just asking friends what they serve. My staples are spaghetti w/meatballs (frozen meat section), canned green beans (low sodium, and yes, they’re not great but they do qualify), tacos and fajitas are easy and balanced too.

  5. toste July 3, 2007 at 7:32 am

    I tihnk the smaller portions frozen is a great idea. My husband and I like to BBQ over the weekends and we tend to have left overs. I break them up in smaller portions (chicken, veggies and mashed potato) for my 1 year old and just throw it in the microwave for 2 minutes and done..

    It does save ALOT of time and “worry” about what to feed them. But then you have to worry about Wednesday -Friday! 🙂 Pasta is a great solution. My daughter adores it.. and just because it is messy doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for her.. just throw some peas or brocolli in them.. Amazing how little time pasta takes.

    Good luck, I believe that every parent faces this hard challenge because we do not want to feed our kids fast food all the time.

  6. SEO Boston December 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Good point that I had never thought of before.

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