Favorite Family Dinners

I love to cook.
I love my family.
I love my job.

Fully living into all 3 of those loves can be challenging.  That’s not new news, but my approach to it continues evolving.  As a new year began, I took stock of all the areas in which I needed improvement—clutter, finances, health (sleep, diet, exercise, spirituality), etc.  

About that time, my friend Beth gifted me a book that my friend Sam recommended.  It’s a book about many things, including simplicity.   As a wife/full-time working mom/pastor, I’m looking to simplify the things that matter less, so I can focus on the things that matter most.  The first area the writer (who’s also a mom/pastor/wife) of the book tackled to simplify was food.  She decided to eat only 7 foods for a period of time.  I liked the idea behind it, but as I read her words, it sounded like only eating 7 foods was actually quite complicated.

So, I took the concept, made it my own, and called a family meeting.  Here’s how it went:

1. The family meeting

My daughter stood at her dry erase easel, marker in hand, (Being in charge is her leadership style, and I enjoyed creating that opportunity for her.) as we brainstormed things we eat for dinner.  I listened as my family named off foods, and I fought the temptation to add so many dinners that they forgot—that I work hard to prepare.  I kept my mouth shut.  (Somebody congratulate me for that accomplishment😉.)

I handed out index cards, and had everyone write down their 5 favorites.  Then, we shared one at a time, tallying the results as we went.  We were left with a list of 14 dinners that multiple family members selected, 6 of them getting at least 3 votes.

2. The results

The top 6:  tacos, hamburgers, spaghetti, Italian sausage, breakfast for dinner, and pork loin

#7-14:  beef roast w/veggies, pork chops, chili, baked ziti, drumsticks, paninis, takeout pizza and Chinese

So that’s what we’ve been eating the last couple months.  It makes meal planning and meal eating easier.  

3. The planning

On Saturday nights, I look over our list, mentally noting which ones are about due in the rotation.  I compare that with what’s on sale at Kroger.  I make my Click List order to pick up Sunday afternoon on my way home from work.  (If I’m not on top of things or Sunday pick-up just doesn’t work—like if my car is so full of church stuff that groceries won’t fit, then I check out the Food Lion weekly ad, make my list, and go Sunday or Monday night after the kids are in bed.  I avoid grocery shopping with my kids whenever possible.)

4. The eating

Meal time is still full of Sit down.  Push your drink away from the edge.  Use a napkin.  But, it’s NOT full of food battles.  My kids like the food.  My husband likes the food.  I like peaceful dinners and conversations about how our days went, not how much we don’t like the food.

5. Notes

I plan to re-do the exercise as summer approaches.
I do a weekly run to Aldi during my daughter’s dance class for produce.
You’ll notice I still have control over side dishes (control—that word makes me happy.  I have issues…).  And, I still get to experiment and get my creative outlet with veggies and starches.
I’m happy to share recipes.  I’ll start with the Italian sausage ones.
I prepare Italian sausage two ways, and we love both!  (At least, my husband, son, and I love both!  On these nights, my daughter eats either a hot dog or her very fav meal—noodles with Parmesan.)  I hope you enjoy:

Italian Sausage & Pepper Sandwiches:  https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/sausage-pepper-and-onion-hoagies-recipe-1941240

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash:  https://twohealthykitchens.com/parmesan-spaghetti-squash-with-italian-sausage/


→What are your family’s favorites?


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