Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kitchen Nightmares

This is not the sort of thing I normally blog about, and I really don't think anybody even reads this thing anymore, but I need some help.  Well, I probably need help with a lot of things, but let's focus on one...healthy food for my family.

Some things to know:
1) I hate cooking.  I think it is because I don't know what I am doing and I hate doing things I don't know how to do (admittedly, not one of my best traits).  Also, I am really bad at it.  Family legend has it that I don't know how to make instant oatmeal.  Yes, there was once an "incident".  I would also like to add a disclaimer here that my mother is a FABULOUS cook, I just didn't seem to inherit that gene.

2) I am neurotic.  I have always been a huge fan of "moderation is key", so I don't mind Gracie eating a hot dog and a cookie here and there.  But right now I feel like she is getting a lot of overly processed school food and then not much better at home.  Which leaves me up at night freaking out that she is going to grow two heads, grow a tail- anything seems plausible around 2 am.

3) Like everyone else, I just don't seem to have enough time.  I work all day, and I don't want to spend what time I do have with my family in the kitchen.  Also, if I was in the kitchen I would probably just be standing in there for no reason because I don't know what I am doing.  Another disclaimer, Parke is a great cook and does most of the heavy lifting here...but I am in charge of the grocery shopping.

4) I like to eat.  A lot.  And I like my food to taste good, every time I read about an actress/ model who lives on steamed fish and lettuce it makes me so thankful not to be that person I run right out and buy a package of M&M's in celebration.

So, my request for anybody who still happens to read this blog...what do you feed your family?  And how do you know where to start?  What will your kids eat that is good for them? I would love to overhaul our eating habits (for the most part...like I said, everything in moderation) but that goal seems way out of reach right now.

Anybody out there who can help or offer suggestions?


  1. The Crockpot - makes the worst cook appear to be the best!!! Let me know if you want any recipes! Meatballs with bbque sauce and grape jelly, roast with carrots and potatoes, the most tender Thanksgiving turkey, and I will next try a pork loin! Or, call Cracker Barrell, pick up an order, and take it home and put it in your grandmother's pots and pans!

  2. Okay, so I have three suggestions.

    1. Learn to make something that you feel good about and is easy and that Parke or your mom has never made before. Comparison kills all joy, especially in the kitchen. And tell yourself and Parke that its okay to eat that same meal at least four nights a week indefinitely. I have two great and easy recipes I'll email to you :)

    2. Devote that 25 minutes as a calm time to yourself. Let it be a time that Gracie gets to play on the ipad or Parke takes her for a quick walk. Pour yourself a big glass of wine, turn on pandora, and relish the quiet. It's amazing how quickly chopping veggies and drinking wine will quickly be a part of the day you cherish!

    3. Learn to chop an onion, garlic and red pepper. Add wine and you've got a good start to making anything taste good.

  3. Oooooh...I am RIGHT there with you. Last week, I had one job for dinner (as my hub graciously offered to cook that night--maybe because he wanted something edible?): Make toast. I kid you not, I burnt one piece and under-toasted a second...AT THE SAME TIME.

    Point being...I am anxiously awaiting other responses so I can steal the advice. :)

  4. Here are a few tips I have done in the past because I am right there with you as far as worrying about my child not getting enough healthy food!

    1) If Gracie likes Oatmeal (Ellis loves it!!), I stir in a chopped up banana or blueberries into it OR sometimes I even put a few spoonfuls of a veggie baby food like squash or sweet potatoes and she never knows the difference!

    2) Trader Joes sells these packets of Carrot Applesauce and they are super easy - you can just twist the lid off and give it to her, or put it in a bowl if you want. Ellis gets one of these almost daily and has no idea it has veggies in it.

    3) If Gracie likes marinara sauce (spaghetti, ravioli, etc.) this is a good place to hide veggies - you can shred carrots, zucchini, spinach, etc. and pour them into a sauce and cook them down to be soft. Maybe make a big pot of sauce one weekend in a big pot or throw it all in the crockpot one morning?

    4) Just a general idea would be to use your crockpot as much as you can. I use mine a ton in the winter - pot roast (with soft veggies), vegetable soup, etc. You just dump stuff in and let it cook all day.

    5) There are all kinds of "toddler muffin recipes on pinterest which are healthy. Make a big batch for the week.

    6) Lastly, lately Ellis has been really into chicken nuggets and I found a healthy kind at the grocery store. The brand is Perdue and the name is "Simply" something - you will see them at the store. They are very lightly breaded and gluten free. She never knows the difference and it makes me feel better about her eating so many chicken nuggets.

    I hope these things help!

  5. Focus on what your gifts are. You are an excellent writer, loving mom, and stylish dresser. If you don't enjoy cooking, don't be hard on yourself, just do what's necessary to get by and focus on your strengths.

  6. First time comment, long time reader. I think it is completely normal to have these feelings. I like to cook but still struggle with what to feed my family (my daughter is 8 1/2 and my son is 5). My daughter is a little picky, my son is more willing to try new foods. If you want to email me (knkristof@yahoo.com) I can give you some suggestions of what we do in our house. My biggest suggestion is to keep giving that beautiful Grace new foods to try so she doesn't become picky (trust me, it makes for unecessary stress in the evenings.

  7. I'm always a reader :)
    As for meal planning, I'm constantly battling it and I do love to cook. I don't mind grocery shopping, but I hate thinking of what will we eat this week? I just don't have as much time to enjoy and think about it anymore. And of course I'm always worrying if Walker eats healthy enough. In agreeing with other comments, here's my simple advice (I can elaborate later):
    1. Cooler weather = crockpot cooking!...lots of recipes on pinterest and online, makes life easy!
    2. If you need to do the cooking (instead of Parke), definitely make it a more pleasant experience with wine and music, and use the time for you. It will make the cooking part go more smoothly and be less of a hassle if you are relaxed. Sometimes I forget but always enjoy it more when I remember.
    3. Consider meal planning websites...ex. emeals.com...you pay a small fee but you get 5-7 weekly recipes sent to you that include shopping lists and shopping deals based on your choice of local grocery store! Could be worthwhile for you :) (my friend did it and loved it, and I've done something similar in the past)
    4. Check out the pre-prepared meats at Publix. When we can't think of new ideas or are tired of the same old thing, we look at the meat counter and have had a lot of successful, easy meals. Pair with a veggie and voila! A easy, healthy meal!
    5. Pick any veggie, drizzle with olive oil and spices and either saute in pan or roast in oven. Super easy.
    6. Best thing to do for Gracie is keep things mixed up and different for her. I still make separate meal for Walker unless I give him leftovers but I try to keep up with the variety. I'll let you know later some specific things I feed him so I'm not writing a novel...
    7. You don't have to be an amazing cook to be an amazing Mom. So I agree with the others...keep up what you know best, the rest will fall into place.

  8. I'm still a reader!!! I am right there with you about not being a good cook! We try and plan our meals out for the week on Saturday or Sunday. I will agree the Crockpot is a life saver for sure! And makes meals really easy! I still feed Ella separate than us (although I think she would prefer to eat with us but Alston doesn't get home in time)... so it is kind of a pain to come up with 2 meals! Ella eats a lot of beans (lima, pinto, black, black eyed peas, green peas). I try and buy the frozen kind but if not I will do the reduced sodium (black and pinto)....but they also have corn and carrots, etc you can buy that are pretty quick to make. They also have some "healthier" kids food in the frozen section...ravioli and stuff so I will buy those and make those sometimes. She used to do really good with meats so I would buy deli meat (reduced sodium) and chop that up and give her that but she wont really eat meat anymore :( ... I also use the baby food pouches and they also have "toddler" ones too you can buy that are fruit and veggie mixes and she loves to eat those! I have also given Ella the Morningstar garden veggie patties (they have tons of veggies in them). I like the advice of wine and music in the kitchen...might have to try that myself and send Alston on a walk with the girls! :)