I guess I’m out of the running for the “Perfect Attendance” award in this 365 Dinner Project, but let me tell you about some of the meals of the last week or so.
My wife (who I’ve dubbed “Sutton” for these updates, after my crush on a Broadway performer of the same name) started doing something about a month ago that has done wonders for my stress around dinnertime. She started mapping out a week’s worth of dinners at a time, so it’s kind of like looking at the kids’ school lunch menu. Spaghetti and Meatballs on Monday, Taco Tuesday (Everything is Awesome!), and so on. It’s not the exact same every week, and sometimes she’ll prepare the food and sometimes I do, but one of my recurring daily stresses has been trying to figure out what to eat/make. I just don’t have enough skill, passion, or appetite to keep coming up with things, and I also hate the drama that often ensues from, “How does [thing they usually like] sound?” One says “Yes!”, the other goes “Noooo!” Blech.
In theory, there shouldn’t be anything stopping me from making the same kind of plan, but in practice, it’s like I have a mental block there, and Sutton is just better at it. That’s not to say she enjoys it, though, which is why I’m so grateful that she’s doing it anyway. It has made dinnertime way more relaxed for me. We still sometimes change up the plan for assorted reasons, but it’s so nice to have a default to fall back on instead wrestling with that indecision every day.
Of the meals pictured above, only the quesadillas (with caesar salad and tomato soup) were actually planned that day. The pasta (with italian dressing, tomatoes, and sausage) was an on-the-fly offering by Sutton that sounded good, and was. The Santa Fe Salad (romaine, southwest ranch dressing, chicken, corn, cheese, crunchy tortilla strips.) was an impulse buy at Costco a couple days ago, and turned into late dinner for me last night. It came in a 2-pack and I liked the first one so much I ate the second one right away.
Usually if I eat a late dinner alone the reason is hockey-related, but last night was “Free Choice”. When I first saw that on the dinner schedule, I thought it was like working at Summer Camp when we dreaded “Counselor’s Choice”, which meant all the regular activities and fun areas are filled up, so have fun trying to keep twenty five-year-olds entertained with your wits and a patch of grass for an hour. Instead, it was Sutton’s idea – which I completely endorsed – to try to give the girls at least one night a week where they get to choose whatever they want (within reason), contrasted with the other nights where we’ll work on them eating whatever is offered. That may sound like nothing to either non-parents or parents whose kids have been cooperative eaters all their lives, but that’s a big deal in our household, where mealtime holdouts and negotiations can be like something out of an action movie, only sometimes the hostages don’t make it out alive.
Daddy: Look, I only made this mac and cheese because you promised you’d eat them since you hate the nuggets on the table even though you loved them last week.
Unikitty: But you left the cheese on! I want it without sauce! I want frozen yogurt now!
Daddy: You can’t have dessert for dinner and this is the second food you’ve already been offered. I won’t make you eat it but if you choose not to, you can sleep hungry tonight.
Gasping Mommy [distraught by the possibility of any children going hungry]: Wait, maybe we should…
Unikitty: Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfuckers!
I’m paraphrasing for dramatic purposes, but you get the drift.
So where was I… yeah – last night was “Free Choice” and the girls chose and ate fettucini (with butter) and tortellini (with butter) without incident, but I wasn’t hungry enough to bother scrounging for myself. I finally noticed feeling hungry around 9pm, when it was Costco salads to the rescue. I’ll definitely be getting those again.
Among the dinners with no photo, there was another “Free Choice” night when I had Kraft Mac & Cheese because that was Brooke’s choice, but if only Brooke had any, 3/4 of a box would have gone into the disposal. (Mac & cheese leftovers don’t heat up well.) One night we got assorted takeout from Famous Dave’s Barbecue, but my main dish was hot link sausage with a side of garlic-mashed red potatoes. I had leftover Famous Dave’s the next night. If I had any other dinners since the last time I blogged, they’ve already been excreted from the intestines of my memory.