Monday, March 21, 2011

Are you sick of dinner?

I’ve been really sick of dinner for some time now. I’m tired of eating the same old stuff and even more tired of cooking the same old stuff. It’s been more than just a rut. It’s been more like a total loss of desire. I’ve pulled out cookbooks and gone to the computer looking for inspiration but still feel bored. I’m not going to go too far out on a limb in the creativity area. I don’t have that the time with three kids to be overly fancy. I tend to avoid recipes that have a laundry list of ingredients. Short attention span maybe??? Besides, since I’m cooking for kids, I need to keep things fairly simple and recognizable for their sake. There’s nothing worse than cooking meal at the end of a long day and then sitting across the table from a wrinkled up nose.

One night, I made an off the cuff remark that the kids could plan dinner. I said it with the sentiment of a punishment in mind. I guess that’s how I’ve been feeling about the kitchen lately.

To my surprise I was met with excitement.
I quickly changed the tone of my voice and continued on with the thought as if it was some grand new scheme of mine. (I meant to do that the whole time).

So we started to talk about what things made a healthy meal. We discussed what the different food groups were and what things sounded like they would be good together. The girls (7 & 5) came up with a quick list of some of their favorite things and I pulled out paper and a pen. I had each of the girls come up with a plan for one dinner and they each picked a night that they would be the chef.

The next day I made a trip to the grocery store and that evening we started our cooking team. For two nights I had a little helper making dinner with me. We talked about cooking terms and how to time things to be finished at the same time. They were so interested in seasoning and how flavors came together. They were slightly intimidated with the stove and some of the sounds of food cooking at first. A little talk about safety and their confidence bloomed in front of me.

After the first week I thought I would continue as long as they showed an interest. I don’t want it to become something that they are not enjoying. Although it started as a threat or an intended punishment, I want them to be excited about cooking. It’s not like they have never helped before but now the planning and the scheduling of it has giving them so much more ownership. I can’t believe how they look forward to their night.

I new it was a hit when my second grader got off the bus and before she was half way up to the house she wanted to know who’s turn it was to cook that night. When I said it was her night the response was “YES” with a cute little dance move.

The change was more than I could have expected. We’re several weeks into it and they are still excited to cook and they are very complimentary of each other’s skills. Sometimes they like what the other has made so much that that becomes part of their choice for the following week. Sunday afternoons have turned into a planning meeting for the week to come as they pick their dishes and what day will be their turn in the kitchen. The best part for me is the special one on one time I get with them to do what was becoming mundane and tedious for me. Our little man (2 ½) has even gotten into the game. His job is to sprinkle cheese on our Friday night pizza and set the timer. He is thrilled with himself for being such a big boy and cooking like his sisters.

So what do you do to keep from getting boarded with your daily routines?
Do you have any fun ideas to make cooking more interesting?
What’s for dinner tonight?


blueviolet said...

I tend to get in a rut with my cooking too. I like quick and easy with simple ingredients also.

But lately I've just been cooking up Lean Cuisine frozen meals for myself. Bad, huh?

Alexis AKA MOM said...

I was in a rut for a while that is when I started doing the new meals at least 4 times a week.

I love you have the kids involved, I love the boys to come in and help me when I cook it's a special time :).

I love the sprinkle the cheese job!

Amyt said...

My experience is very similiar to yours. We usually cook together on the weekends. My girls love to make wraps or fancy sandwichs. Sometimes it is a spur of the moment decision and they scan the cupboards for things to use. They often ask, "Can we make a dinner creation?" I find it fun and is great for building their confidence. Thanks for the ideas!

Nicole said...

I love this idea. One night I was doing the menu planning and pulled out some cookbooks and had my two little helpers "help". Sometimes I just want to get it done, but to make them apart of all aspects of getting dinner on the table would be new and refreshing for all of us. Thanks!!!

Heather said...

What a great idea! It's wonderful that your girls and boy are so eager to learn and help and take charge! They will learn such valuable knowledge and the time will be such a special memorable moment for all of you!
I've recently changed my cooking as I could tell hubby wasn't happy with dinners at all. I was always trying to figure out something new and exciting to make and was usually met with the infamous wrinkled up nose (from him). So I asked him exasperated what he wanted for dinners - his response stunned me - he simply wants meat, potatoes and a veggie. Nothing fancy just simple and filling. Plus we throw in pasta one night and pizza one night.
So for me dinner has become very simple to plan (I base the meats on whatever is on sale at the grocery store) and my little guys always help and my big guy is happy. Simplicity won out in the end - go figure.

Intense Guy said...

Now to get the kids equally excited about cleaning the toilet and doing laundry. :) Just kidding...

I remember coming home from Jr and Sr High School and starting the family dinner on weekdays. My dad worked until about 5:45 PM and my mom was talking some college courses, so to help her out - I "started things" like boiling a pot of water for spaghetti or what have you - I learned my way around the kitchen and how that "get everything finished at the same time" can be a challenge.

I was watching a cooking show on PBS a while back, and the guy that did the show was all for children helping - and had a bunch of tips. Of course, my fuzzy brain can't remember which show it was now.

I found this website: that might inspire ya.

:) Someday when your daughters are the "next Julia Child's" you can look back on your blog to see how and when they got their start!

Debbie said...

I tried that with mine but only one out of the four was the least bit excited and would even try to help. I get bored too. I don't really have any great solutions.

Sandra said...

This is such an excellent idea! I absolutely hate the whole "what should i make for supper" schtick. I think this is something I will definitely consider with my kids (I have four).