I Need Help! Family Favorites Besides Mac ‘N Cheese?
I may have to quit my job. Really the thought crossed my mind. Why, are you wondering? The reason is simple: I need to radically change what my family eats and in some weird way, figuring out how to do that seems like a full-time job in itself. Eat less fat, less calories, eat more protein, cut carbs, watch out for sugar – it’s the devil. Stay away from processed foods, yogurt is bad for you, yogurt is good for you. Eat more vegetables, wait… eat more vegetables grown locally. Only buy organic, although sometimes you don’t have to (just focus on the “dirty dozen”). It’s completely overwhelming!
MY GOAL FOR 2016: FIND NEW FAMILY FAVORITES
Leading up to a recent holiday family gathering there was actually debate over serving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I admit, I actively engaged in the debate. My kids eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – and only Kraft. To the point where if we go to a restaurant and macaroni and cheese is on the menu, they ask the waitress if it’s Kraft. If it’s not, they refuse to order it. But serving macaroni and cheese on a night when there are SO many other delicious, made from scratch, healthy (and not so healthy) choices, is beyond comprehension. Every time I serve it, I feel like I’m contributing to my children’s poor eating habits. (For the record, it was served and it’s all they ate for dinner despite countless vegetables and meat offerings.)
The macaroni and cheese debate is just the tip of the iceberg on my mound of parenting guilt. Quick, easy dinners and snacks are a part of our daily lives. Sure it sounds great to layout a platter of cut-up vegetables or sliced fruit for when the kids get home from school, but what parent has time for that, let alone one who is juggling working full-time and having at least a few nights a week as a solo parent? My mother-in-law tells me I have to stop buying snacks, but she’s not the one who will ultimately be fighting with my kids that there “is nothing to eat!!”
Determined to not be defeated, I am slowly letting the snacks in our house deplete with the goal of only having one choice. The hope is, with less choices my kids will consider and perhaps eat something healthier for variety. I’m ditching the goldfish crackers, baked lays, honey mustard pretzels, granola bars, butter crackers – anything processed. Knowing this could take some time I also hit the grocery store and bought a few additional kinds healthier snacks like clementines, blueberries & edamame so I could get the kids used to having alternate choices around. I bought spaghetti squash too which I will probably serve one night for dinner… and then dump it in the trash because it won’t get eaten. And I ordered a cooking device to help spiralize zucchini. I’ve warned my kids of the upcoming snack reduction and the move to healthier eating. I don’t think they believe me and well, I barely believe myself.
As for dinner, I vow to cook more from scratch. I used to cook a lot more but that’s when I enjoyed cooking, trying new recipes, finding something delicious. But once I began feeding opinionated kids, the constant “I HATE that” is quite discouraging. (For the record that normally comes before dinner actually starts which 8 out of 10 times gets eaten anyway. But the complaining starts 2-3 hours before we eat since that’s when they begin thinking about “the next meal”.) My husband, while the least critical of the group, does have some special requests like no onions or beans. Sometimes he wants his chicken cooked differently from everyone else or he likes his pork chop with Shake ‘n Bake or my meatballs aren’t quite like his moms. He also needs meat at every meal where I would gladly skip the meat and fill-up on veggies.
Laziness, the unwillingness to fight about one more thing or customize another meal has led to some poor eating habits that absolutely have to change! Unfortunately, as I start looking for some healthier recipes (I’ve probably looked at nearly 100 at this point), only a couple jump out as possibilities. I can actually hear a family member complaining, crying or throwing a fit within seconds of reading the recipe title.
Perhaps quitting my job to revamp what the family eats is a little extreme, but I’m definitely overwhelmed as we enter the New Year. While I’m not looking for advice on what else to cook or what else to eat, I would love any readers to share their favorite family endorsed recipes (even by name if not an ingredient play by play). One thing I know I want to do in 2016 is to cook more from scratch. Perhaps I’ll set a goal of finding one new “well received”, healthy, easy meal a week. Four a month. Fourty-eight in a year. That’s doable, right?
- Bright Horizons on Pinterest: Kid-friendly Recipes Board
- Parenting Webinar: Nutrition Tips and Strategies for Growing Healthy Eaters
- More posts about family health and posts about family fitness from the Family Room bloggers