Sous Chef to the Rescue

Ready for some tips on how to manage the meals in your house?

There was a meme I saw one day that said something like “I never realized how exhausting figuring out what to make for dinner every night was un that job was mine EVERY SINGLE DAY”. 😊

Here’s the thing, I love cooking. I love making a meal for people & seeing them enjoy it! It makes my heart so happy. But, since we homeschool, I’m not just making dinner. I’m also making breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, & dinner!

And somehow it turns out I have picky eaters. And I have food allergies & food restrictions.

Over the last few years cooking has become not as much fun for me. Who likes to cook only to have no one eat it? Or to cook something that smells delicious, you know you love it, but turns you can’t eat anymore?!

And yet everyone still needs to eat (what’s up with that?!) 😊 And you’re the mom so they all look to you even though your husband is an amazing cook (and he does do his fair share of the cooking)! And then add it that it should be delicious, nutritious, & more than once a day…I mean seriously people!

There are days where I’m just so tired, it was a full day of schooling for the kids, a full day of work for me, & 6pm rolls around & the little people are saying they’re hungry & I’d love to just go order dinner, but we haven’t set up our budget to cover eating out for 8 people every worknight, & would our belts really thank us if we did?

Do you have those days?

I mentioned in my scheduling post how I’ve recently started having the kids help me with dinner prep each night. I resisted this activity at first because even though I know they need to know how to cook, I thought it would take more time than I have in the evenings. But it has truly been one of the best parenting decisions we’ve implemented in our house. There are a few reasons why I love the outcome so much.

  1. It’s giving the kids ownership with the meals. When it’s their day they not only get to help make whatever is for dinner, but they also get to pick what we make, so I know at least 1 child is going to eat dinner that night 😊 They also have to think ahead as I have them help me with the menu & grocery list so I know we’ll have the ingredients we need for their preferred meals. (more on that in a later post)
  2. It’s teaching them skills & giving them confidence. Of course, we’re starting with fairly simple meals like pasta dishes, simple meat dishes, breakfast food (is my family the only one who like breakfast for dinner?). But they’re learning how to feed themselves. Our goal is to raise adults, not children. I want them to know how to survive & thrive when they’re grown.
  3. Once I’m certain they can do a meal with me, I can then tell them to manage lunch or dinner on certain days for everyone (another task delegated!) It again, gives them ownership of something, gives them a responsibility, & gives them more appreciation for being an adult & in charge of necessary tasks. I think having them not only feed themselves, but also their siblings, is teaching them so many things. They’ve learned that it’s not so fun to cook something only to have someone not eat it, or if they do eat it, to not say thank you! I’ve found they’ve become more appreciative for what’s being made for them since we’ve started having them help us.

Since we’ve started doing this, I actually now have kids who fight over who gets to help make dinner. I have one son who loves cooking & I think he’d be totally happy to be my sous chef every night. My oldest son dislikes cooking at this point, so if I ask him to make lunch, more often than not he’ll ask his younger brother “Hey! Doesn’t ____ sound good for lunch? Great, do you wanna make it?”, knowing full well that he loves cooking & will do it!

My husband is amazing in the kitchen, & since he works from home we divvy up the cooking duties. There are days when I know my afternoon is going to be crazy so if I give him enough heads up he’ll usually BBQ something that night. The kids love when he BBQs!

Another trick I use to make feeding the hoard is to double up on meals when I’m cooking so I don’t have to cook the next night or two.

When my husband BBQs & he’s planning on doing steaks or hamburgers I typically thaw out some chicken, marinade them through the day, & then have him throw them on with the other stuff he’s doing for that night. Then the next night we just reheat them, add a different side or two, & we’re good to go!

If we’re cooking up a casserole or pasta dish, I make sure it’s enough to have leftovers for the following day’s lunch or even dinner.

If we order pizza, we order enough for multiple meals. We had a delivery guy comment on the party we must be having as he delivered the 6 pizzas, & my #5 asked after the door was closed why he asked that, she thought dinner was just us. They don’t realize the normal family doesn’t usually get 6 pizzas at a time!

The trick when making extra is to make sure most of your family likes it, you don’t want to be eating the same meal for 5 nights because none of the kids will eat it (ask me how I know this!). And make sure you only have it for the next night, maybe two. My darling munchkins are pretty much finished with a meal after the second night no matter how much they love it.

I’m going to post some of our meals to the blog, just to give you ideas. I know sometimes I just look at my calendar & my kitchen cabinets & my mind goes blank. I love browsing other Mom blogs & Pinterest, just looking for inspiration. So, I’d love to create a place with kid approved meals for the days when you’re just wish someone would provide dinner & take that stress off your plate.

Let me know if these tips are helpful in your situation!

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