Do you hate the question ‘What’s for dinner?’, too?

On May 5, 2011 by Aimee
What's for Dinner?

What's for Dinner?

It’s dinner time in my house and that means trouble. The groceries, lovingly bought a week (or two) before have expired or staled. The kids are whining, crying or otherwise making life miserable, complaining there isn’t a thing in the house to eat.

Despite knowing otherwise, I yell back, “Just snack on something, we’ll eat ‘soon’!” knowing, full-well, that soon isn’t going to happen because I, too, have no idea what we have, what we should make, what sounds good or even what’s in those dusty cabinets, in that room with all the appliances.

This isn’t you? Your house is the Martha Stewart of working moms? Then, can I come live with you? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?

When I was a kid, my Mom (and Dad) cooked almost every night. My mother is a gourmet, and I LOVE (with a passion) going home and eating whatever she makes. Heck, I’ll even help her cook.

But … send me home with a stove and some pots, even give me a list, and my mind starts wandering. I think of all those nice restaurants where people will serve me, where they’ll bring me water in a cup without fingerprints on it, and they use cloth napkins instead of the ones we stole from Wendy’s during our last trip for burgers. A place where the bathroom doesn’t smell, and it’s far enough away I don’t have to hear what’s going on behind the not-closed-all-the-way door while I’m eating my now-cold dinner that I burned in the first place.

Come on. Admit it. Unless you are **ahem** a few people I know whom I shall not name, you don’t like to cook, and the anxiety that builds with the words “Mom, what’s for dinner?” can overwhelm you.

I’ve tried it all—lists, pre-planning, running to the grocery store on the day of—everything to get into a habit. I know something about myself though. If *I* <—- (This means ME) has to think through that horrid question, I will sit my butt down on the floor and pout like a three-year old, spouting off the “You can’t make me!” line repeatedly. I usually manage A day of these new resolves and then quit (thus the spoiled food by the end of week 2 notation that opened this little story).

So while agonizing over said ridiculous-question-that-should-be-way-easier-than-it-is yet again last week, I had a moment of inspiration. Yup. Me. Just one moment and I snatched it.

First, know, that if it’s fast, I’ll buy it. If it’s fried, I’ll probably eat it. If it it’s healthy and I don’t have to MAKE it, I will accept it. That usually leaves us in the Wendy’s, McDonalds, Burger King class of foods since I also don’t want to spend $$$.

Back to last week … I sat with burgers (see?) on the table, our family of five together, and I said … “From now on, you’ll all be assigned a day of the week–” {begin groans here} “–and it will be your responsibility to make dinner.” {Insert excited giggles from my girls here.} “And at the end of each week, whomever produces the cheapest, healthiest meal of the week–” {Insert super smiles ‘cuz they know something good is coming.} “–gets to pick where we go out for dinner on Sunday.” {Insert: Mom! Can I be on tomorrow?}

Buy in, baby! Buy in. They ALL bought in. All four faces staring my way. 6, 6, 13 and 40—all ready to have at Mom’s new plan.

Day 1

It’s my daughter Abby’s chance to ‘make’ dinner. At 6 though, what’s she gonna do? She made a list. We went to the grocery store. She picked a pre-made Lasagna, fruit salad and fresh Artisan bread. While her final total came to $30, it lasted for lunch the next day and each day since, she’s asked what her new total is (so now, we’re doing math, too). Her new total is $16.

Day 2

My day (we opted to go alphabetical). The girls and I went to the grocery store—no long-winded trip, just for dinner makings. Our Day 3’er though opted to get her stuff then. I chose pre-made roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and watermelon. Me? $16.

Day 3

Emily. She opted for hand-made pizza, fruit salad (left overs from Day 1 with the addition of watermelon from Day 2 and bananas) and salad. Her total? $15.

Day 4

Big brother. Unfortunately, he’s opted to hang with the Grandparents for the week, so he’ll be joining in the fun next week, but he does have his list ready : Fettucini Alfredo.

Day 5

Dad. Spaghetti. He makes it himself. He’s going to win on the $$ part, so I think we’ll disqualify him from the race.

What did I gain this week?

NO ONE and I mean NO ONE has asked the question, “What’s for dinner?” Quite the opposite, in fact. They’ve been asking how much their dinner cost, if that was ‘cheap’, if it was the ‘yummiest’ and the ‘healthiest’ and what can they do for next week.

Problem solved.

I feel so much better and just had to share in case, like me, you’re a make-dinner-phobe.

Share your creative problem solving techniques—not just about food—anything!