Let's Get Real: I'm Too Tired to Cook

Thursday May 12, 2011

You know how it is. There are just those times!

Too much to do, too little time...the end of a day with mischievous kids that has taken you to the brink. Tonight's dinner will never look like the one in the picture there.

So, should you feel guilty about giving in to fast food for the family?

Well, there are several ways to answer that question.
If it’s a habit, yes.
If it’ll save your sanity, no.

We all know how unhealthy a fast food diet can be. And let’s not talk about the expense. What’s the up side?

Let’s say Dad stops and picks something up on the way home. (I often felt that was easier than schlepping four boys out to a restaurant, expecting them to behave, and driving back home again.) If you do carry out, there’s no preparation and less clean up.

What if you go out? You can use the opportunity to teach kids how to eat smart out. They’re going to be faced with choices as they get older – even in the school cafeteria line – so teach them how to make wise choices. And there are plenty of other lessons to be learned in the restaurant setting. How to wait (and not annoy those around you while you do) and how to be polite to those who serve you are just two.

You can combine math with frugality by using coupons. Let the kids go through the coupons and clip the restaurant ones, saving them in a special spot for that evening when they’re needed. After you’ve ordered, figure your cost before and after coupons, and show the kids how much you saved.

If you’re just too beat to fix a traditional meal and eating out isn’t an option, get creative. How about breakfast for dinner? Or maybe mini pizzas? Early in my blog life, I ran a feature called Well-fed Wednesdays with easy family recipes. (If you’d like to see a couple, just put Well-fed Wednesdays into the Search box.) Don’t want to deal with dishes? Haul out a plastic tablecloth and have a living room picnic – or take the meal outside. Need more ideas? Check this out for a link to a blog about teaching kids to eat right.

The important thing about dinner is doing it together. Don’t get me started on the importance of family meal times. Just this past weekend, our boys related how few of their friends recall sitting down and eating with family. And our son who was a student teacher was appalled at the almost nonexistent response when, in a classroom, the teacher asked students if their families eat together. The boys went on to say how important family mealtimes were to them, and that was so affirming.

So get them all together and eat something. Lose the guilt once in a while and enjoy the family.

Give yourself a break, Mom.

What about you? Can you share some ideas for easy family meals for those crazy days?

Linking up with Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays.


Heidi @ Decor & More said...

Ah, yes, too many dinners on the fly this time of year. I think we'll only manage one family meal this week, but better that than none. Timely post, Laura!

Diane said...

I think I give myself too many breaks. It is way too convenient to go the fast food route but well worth the no clean-up! :O)

Rhonda Schrock said...

This very outnumbered, working, writing mother of four sons knows exactly - exactly! - what you're talking about. Often, Father picks up pizza on Friday night and brings it home. By Friday, this mama has not only hit the brick wall, she has become one with that wall! :)

Good advice!


alicia said...

Yup, I often feel the drive-thru guilt...especially when my hubs is traveling. Although as it warms up, the easiest way to let myself is cereal night. Its my favorite supper. I am noticing though that as my kids get older, they are better at chipping in... my 10 year old is very quick to make sandwiches for everyone or even quick cook some hot dogs. And my 8 year old loves to make homemade pizzas- I buy the premade crusts and they top them how they want. Works great! But yes, even on cereal night, we all sit together. :)

Unknown said...

We don't even have a kitchen table right now! Our little man is only one, but as soon as we get out of the apartment we're getting a table and dang it, we're eating at it! At least we eat together on the couch? Does that count? :)

Karen said...

Laura, I agree. Sanity is to be preserved. Oh, but you said not all the time..... teehee. Great words!

a joyful noise said...

We treat ourselves to fast food, but we skip the french fries and the soft drink. At least that causes us to feel we are eating more healthy!

Ann Kroeker said...

What a sweet and generous note that should, I hope, free moms to do what they need to if they need a break. :)

Together--whether a picnic in the family room, breakfast for dinner, or at a restaurant with slow service--will make memories.

Thanks so much for linking to Food on Fridays with this informative and encouraging post!

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