So here is a little secret…..
I almost never make dinner fresh. There are obviously days that are exceptions (eg. weekends) but on most days I’m not making dinner to order.
Bigger secret…I don’t feel even a little bit bad about it.
I hear a lot from moms how guilty they feel for feeding their child *insert convenience food here* rather than making home cooked meals, or feeding their kids things that are easiest to make, or making really simple meals rather than slaving for hours. Because, a mom’s job is basically to feel guilty about something at all times, right???
In my practice I definitely encourage variety in children’s diets to prevent picky eating and allow children to explore different cuisines, and I do encourage home cooking as often as is reasonably possible. But it’s important to realize that what’s “reasonably possible” differs for every family situation. Work schedules, extracurriculars, culinary skills, all affect a family’s ability to eat fully home cooked meals.
Personally, when I walk in the house from work at the end of the day there I would a MILLION times rather take my kids to the park to run around than jump right into the kitchen to make dinner. So I don’t. Because let’s be honest. In ten years time are my kids going to remember one meal I cooked them or that we spent an hour having a great time goofing around together?
So I batch cook as much as possible on Sundays, and often I’ll make a dish after the kids to go sleep for the next night so it’s ready to be pulled out of the fridge the next day, and when all else fails, I normally pull out a pan to make scrambled eggs.
If you’re able to make a fresh dinner ready in time every night- excellent! If you’re able to buy a grocery store rotisserie chicken and make your own sides- you get a star! If you’re “only” able to pull chicken nuggets out of the freezer and still cut up some cucumbers and fruit for your kiddos- you still deserve a round of applause!
It can be difficult to rework a whole routine when kiddos come along, while keeping them fed and happy. Which is to say that somehow there is always something that doesn’t get done (I say siting in an apartment that looks like a bomb hit it, even though it was totally tidy last night). It becomes all too easy to focus on that one thing instead of everything else that did! I think as moms we can safely say there are enough areas that can make us feel guilty in life, we don’t really need to add this one too.
Do I believe that a balanced diet for children is important?? OF COURSE!
Do I believe that children benefit from having sane parents, who take the time to spend with them, and teach them new skills and make them feel loved? OF COURSE!
Do I think that sometimes one has to trump the other? Kinda also….. OF COURSE!
So if you had an amazing afternoon with your kids, or you were able to take time and do something you enjoy, or you spent the afternoon checking stuff off your to do list, but dinner ended up being cereal, milk and fruit…well then I say congrats on serving your child a meal that consists of three food groups! Pat yourself on the back and call it a successful day.