December 28, 2011
© Kathryn Thompson
It’s time for my yearly parenting resolution. Of course there are fifty things I could and should make resolutions about but I try to stick to one per year in order to keep myself from feeling like a complete and utter failure. I have resolution ADD and can barely keep my brain focused on one goal, let alone fifty.
This year, as a mom, I’ve decided to focus on food.
I love food. I love to cook and eat and cook so others can eat. I love the way food smells and looks and tastes and sounds. Isn’t the sizzling of bacon almost as good as the taste? The bright colors of a beautiful salad make me giddy inside, and I feel my most artistic when I’m creating a fabulous and healthful meal. So why do I do it so rarely these days?
Maybe I’ve been beaten down by picky eaters or maybe I’m just sick of the relentlessness of cooking three meals every single day, but when I think back to what my family ate this week… and last week… and the week before, I’m not exactly brimming with pride. Gone are the days when, as a new mom, I would plan out my menus a month at a time, making sure to incorporate variety in flavor, texture, and nutrient contact. I’ve been in survival mode for a long time.
Breakfasts are a wash. We eat cold cereal. Pretty much every day. And I am awesome at breakfast. I can do things with eggs that would make Julia Child gleeful. Do I? Rarely. I have some great muffin recipes and I am masterful at whipping up steel cut oats, pancakes and fruit smoothies. However, it’s much easier to yell at the kids , “Have you eaten breakfast yet?” as I jump in the shower. Family breakfast together? What’s that?
And I think, I’ll have two more chances today to make them a great meal… okay one, as I slap the peanut butter on their sandwiches and send them off to school. I’ve been very supportive of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and other efforts being made to make school lunches more healthful. I’ve been supportive online, but not in the lunch box.
My kids’ lunches aren’t awful, whole wheat bread, single ingredient peanut butter, all-fruit jam, a carrot and a fruit. But they’re the same almost every single day. Every once in a while, I throw some soup in a thermos or some crackers and hummus in a tub, but if Laylee and Magoo bet their allowance that lunch would be PB&J, they’d win nine times out of ten.
Dinners are the best meal of the day but they’re just not thought out. They’re not mindful. More often than not, I find myself picking the kids up from school, about to begin the gauntlet of soccer games and homework and ballet practices, and I start to wonder, “What should I make for dinner?” Really, I should have planned and shopped for it days ago and started cooking or at least chopping in the afternoon before the kids came home.
So, this year my goal is to be mindful of what we’re eating. Let me rephrase. This year my goal is to be mindful of what food I’m preparing for my family. If my goal is about what they will eat, then I’m guaranteed to fail because I have absolutely no control over what they ingest. I can control the options I bring into the house and what I offer them but not whether they actually eat it. There are a few parts to making this goal a reality:
I will plan menus at least a week in advance, not just dinner but other meals too, and I will consider whether the foods we’re eating would make me cringe if I saw them in a school lunch line.
I will ask the kids to help me plan the menus by giving them several healthful choices and letting them select what we’ll eat.
I will serve them hot breakfast at least twice a week.
I will make double whenever I can and freeze additional food for follow-up meals with little preparation.
I will take the time to sit and enjoy good food with my family and make eating together more fun for everyone.
Let’s face it. Food is awesome. It’s how we fuel and care for our bodies. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours a week to ensure that I’m fueling my family properly and I know the benefits can be huge. Here’s to 2012 – the year of great food!