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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In serious need of some serious kitchen help

I realized today that I'd be a pretty good mom if I just didn't have to make my kids meals. Well, I can actually handle the making of said meals (most of the time), but it's the deciding what to make that's most problematic. Perhaps I suffer from a lack of kitchen creativity because I honestly believe shopping is more crucial to life than eating and let's face it, buying groceries and kitchen appliances is not exactly where it's at! Or maybe my culinary repertoire was stunted in utero because my mom only ate fried eggs and ice cream when she was pregnant with me? Whatever it's called and whatever caused it, my MOD (Meal Options Disorder) is severely impairing my ability to be a good parent. We have to start getting ready for lunch at least 45 minutes before we plan to eat it, because that's usually how long it takes for me to think of a few things to offer and my kids to veto all of them. Then we battle back and forth until eventually, I just give up and make the same thing we had yesterday. That's almost an hour of time wasted - instead, we could have used that time to continue working on our toilet paper roll butterflies with the googly eyes that my two year old keeps dropping and my trusty one year old is so damn good at finding (and eating!). Or we could have emptied out the entire basket of at least 27 pairs of shoes to find just the pair we needed to match our eighth outfit change of the day. Or to chase each other around the house with no shoes on (because we didn't have time to find that perfect pair) while dodging stray googly eyes, taunting our siblings with the laser beam flashlights an unnamed extended family member thought was a great idea to give to kids and that we've warned them "Don't shine it in your sisters' eyes!!!" ad naseaum, to no effect. But no... Instead, we have to use those precious 45 minutes every morning to figure out what the hell to make for lunch...

The sad truth is, not only am I suffering from my Meal Options Disorder, but my kids are, too. Not only do they have to be subjected to my lack of creativity and therefore, often end up eating the same thing every day, but it gets even worse than that. Now, my kids have come to actually only want the same thing to eat day after day. My two year old constantly asks for "noodle soup" for lunch - every. single. day. Once in a while it's fine, but Ramen every day? Julia Child and Dr. Spock are certainly both rolling over in their graves (are they even both dead? maybe I should google that before I hit "submit post." I digress...). My four year old is a girl after my own heart - she just wants peanut butter and jelly (grape, never strawberry) every day, served in her current favorite shape (or at least the one that I can find the cookie cutter for from the abyss some might call a kitchen cupboard) - hearts, stars, Christmas trees (even in April), you name it. My one year old isn't quite articulate enough yet to state her culinary requests, but she seems quite content when I offer her turkey meatballs and pasta day after day after when-will-I-learn-not-to-feed-a-baby-red-sauce-when-she's-anything-but-naked-and-going-to-take-a-bath-anyway day.

Is there something I can do about this disorder? I have tried perusing cookbooks and looking on line for inspiration. It doesn't help that my husband isn't much of a foodie himself and prefers a small ensemble of "tried and true" recipes. Safe is certainly safe, but it's so boring!!! As good as it is the first time (or second or third), who wants to eat Parmesean Chicken for dinner every Tuesday? And Spaghetti Carbonara every Friday (except during Lent, but then my menu selections are even more limited, so don't get me started there...)?

I can handle the grocery shopping, the meal preparation, and even the clean up, but will someone just tell me what to make??? I honestly fear we're going to turn into a family of PB&Js, noodle soup, and turkey meatballs. Well, at least we've (mostly) got the five food groups covered...

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