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How to answer the age-old question of “what’s for dinner”

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Some days I feel like I have the world’s pickiest eaters. Well, since I refuse to run a short order kitchen.
I have developed some strategies to save my sanity and get me out of the kitchen before midnight.
Depending on the time of year and how much time I have to devote to meal planning and preparation, I do different things.
One thing I try is to plan meals around a “theme.” I will have “Mexican” night. I have the fixings for hard and soft shelled tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and nachos. John and I like the enchiladas, but none of the kids do. I have two that eat only the burritos, one that eats only the nachos, one that eats only the hard shell tacos, one that eats only the soft shell tacos and one that eats anything I put in front of him (except the enchiladas). Another meal I can easily do for everyone is spaghetti or pasta. I have some that use regular tomato based sauce, others that use only alfredo (white sauce), and hubby and I like meat sauce.
OK, that being said, I can’t always do that. So then comes plan “B.”
If it is a week where we’re going to be home in the evenings then each child is given a “night” to plan a meal. This way everyone gets what they want at least one night out of the week and you can’t fuss about what someone else picked because you get a turn too.
I have one child that is just incredibly picky. I think she could live off pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and bread (just about any type). So she and I finally came to this agreement, if she doesn’t like what’s being served, she can wait until everyone else is done and then she can fix her own meal.
However, she must fix it for anyone else that wants it and she must clean it up. This has been a fairly good arrangement. By the way, this is plan “C.”
Don’t get me wrong, children (and husbands, too!) need to be introduced to new dishes and a variety of foods. I have to be a little devious when it comes to introducing new dishes. So when I find a new dish I want to try I usually make just enough for John and I. Why? Well, children typically want what’s on your plate — at least mine do! I usually place the food on my kid’s plates before we sit at the table. I don’t give them any of the new dish. It is only on mine and John’s plates. Usually about half way through the meal, I hear, “What’s that? Can I try some?” I reply with, “I really just made enough for your Daddy and I, but I’ll give you a bite or two.” Do they always like the new dish? No, but at least they want to try it. Obviously, this works better with younger kids.
We also require that if you don’t care for a dish or food, you simply say, “I don’t care for it.” I don’t tolerate, “yuck,” “gross,” “disgusting,” etc.
Of course, during sports seasons, I have to have food ready that can be eaten in shifts and in between practices and games.
This is when I have things that I can fix ahead of time that everyone will usually eat, like veggies and dip, fruit, cheese trays, fresh breads, lunchmeat, chicken salad etc.
Most of my family doesn’t care for casseroles, but they will eat my homemade chicken pie.
During this season I also like to use my crockpot. Although it is difficult to find things to cook in it that my kids will eat.
Every couple months, usually on a weekend when I know I’m going to be incredibly busy, I schedule a “snack night.”
I have things ready to munch on like little smokies in bar-b-que sauce, tortilla chips and salsa, chips and dip, veggies and dip, fruit and cheese tray, etc. The kids love this. I love the break.
Speaking of the veggies and dip. Here’s my kids favorite veggie dip . It was given to me by a dear friend around 14 or 15 ago. I don’t know where she got it, but we love it!
Mary’s Veggie Dip
1 cup Hellman’s Mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 package (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
Mix thoroughly, refrigerate overnight. If you don’t like the texture of the cottage cheese you can also put this through a blender to get a smooth texture.
If you have a question, comment or suggestion for Mom’s Corner, please e-mail: moms-corner@juno.com.

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