The Pilot Widow's Club

Family Meal planning
September 26, 2007 at 12:21 AM
Okay, I know this sounds so stupid, but I have to ask this.  I am struggling with this and can't seem to pull it together. 

Am I the only one who only plans real meals on nights the husband is home?  I grocery shop for, thaw meat, and plan real meals ONLY on nights he's home.   That leaves me feeding a 4 year-old the old stand-bys of grilled cheese,  soup,  spaghetti, etc. on the nights he's away.  Because when he's gone, after I feed the baby (who luckily still eats babyfood and a small assortment of chewy things), I have zero time or brain power to get a real meal together for myself and the 4 year-old. I get her faux meal to her then scurry around to get the baby fed... then I grab something for myself after I get the both of them in bed. Usually 8:30 or so.

I have really just struggled with this.  Back in the day when my husband was home every night...we ate dinner every night.   Then there was just me and one baby, so I didn't cook for myself.  Now she's getting to where she needs to eat real meals...but getting her to eat something "real" is a game I don't have time for when I've got another one using every spoon or Cheerio as a projectile.  I'm hoping when the baby gets older it'll be easier (no idea why I believe my life will be easier when I've got 2 combative kids), because I can fix ONE child-friendly meal for everybody.

So here's my question:  Do you put together a spread every night, regardless, so your children grow up knowing good manners and good eating habits? Or do you feed your kids what you know they'll eat, with the least amount of resistance, because that's all the sanity you have at 6pm?



  • atoddlermom
    September 26, 2007 at 8:23 PM
    This is sooo great. I was just thinking of this.

    I really need to look at my husband's "schedule" (with Reserve I use that loosely) and see when he's going to be home and then meal plan for those.

    But no. We eat whatever -- leftovers mostly -- when he's not home. I'd eat whatever every night since I'm really only feeding a 3 year old... But he's SO picky and likes "meals" (which he does help with, so that's good, but he's a hard one to please).

    So, I've been planning 5 meals a week -- and then just buy everything for those. When he's home I'll make his pick. I try to do at least one casserole so I have leftovers.

    The thing is -- he loves desserts and cookies and cakes. And I'm trying (not very actively, but still trying) to loose weight. So, I go shopping for us and then when he comes home, I tell him if you want beer and crappy food, you have to go buy it. I'm not keeping bags of brownies in the house for you when you're gone for 4 days straight because I will eat them.

    And I'm shocked at how domestic I sound in this post.


  • PooerGooch
    September 27, 2007 at 9:15 PM
    Keeping in mind that my kids are grown and gone, but I don't cook much when my husband's gone either.  I do cook when he's home, but not necessarily every single night.  Leftovers. 

    By the time he gets home, he's sick and tired of crew meals, airport food and whatever else he's had, so I feed him well.

    Now, since I haven't had to experience being married to a pilot with small kiddos, but I was a single Mom of 2 for a long time while in school and working, so I learned how to get creative.

    Two big time savers for me are the crock pot and cooking ahead.

    There are tons of great crock pot recipes out there, and you can modify some things you already cook to save some time.  Now, I think it's Reynold's, sell crock pot liners so you don't even have to worry about major soaking and clean-up!  I loooove them!

    Cooking ahead.  The one thing that saves me the most time is browning hamburger, pounds at a time, and freezing it.   I just guesstimate at how much I'm putting into each freezer bag, but I try to make it in the 1.5 lb. range.  I season it with salt, pepper and minced onion, drain, cool, bag and freeze. 

    I'll cook chicken breasts in the crockpot then cut or shred the meat and freeze that. 

    Sometimes I buy pre-cooked bacon (usually in the summer when it's 115), but when it's not that hot, I'll buy regular bacon, cook it in the oven then toss it in the fridge.

    When I make meatloaf, I'll make 2 or 3 and freeze.  You get the idea.

    I know it's tough when the kids are little and you're exhausted.  There's nothing wrong with some canned soup and a grilled cheese or whatever, but I do think it's important to carve out 'dinner time' as much as you possibly can.   It's a good routine for them, even if you can't do it every night.  And who can, really?

    One of my kids' favorites?  Hot breakfast for dinner.  Pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, toast, etc.   Fill their tummys followed by a nice warm bath and Zzzzzzzzz.  YAY for Mom!!!

    I have lots more tips, but I'm pressed for time right now......more later!


  • HyphenMama
    October 11, 2007 at 9:24 PM
    Thanks for the ideas!  I didn't mean to not reply for so long... and seem so ungrateful. I've been trying all kinds of new ideas you've given me.  I broke out my crockpot and I've really been trying to feed myself and my daughter more than grilled cheese and spaghetti!  I've honestly never made a casserole either, but I'm willing to try anything! Especially since now it's getting cooler and hot meals seem so much more appropriate.

    Thank you so much for the ideas. Seriously, I'm not a domestic diva and need any ideas I can get my hands on!

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