What Mom Taught Me About Getting Dinner On The Table


Forget about 100 percent healthy and homemade. Yes, we all love fresh, organic, locally-sourced produce, but store-brand frozen green beans are way better than no green beans at all. It’s too easy to burn out (not to mention run out of money!) when I try to make every meal a culinary masterpiece created with only the healthiest ingredients. I’ve noticed that when I allow a few shortcuts and less-than-optimal treats, it makes getting a meal on the table so much easier that I’m more likely to stick to it, night after night. I remember that my mom always made mashed potatoes from a box because with her busy life, she just didn't have time for peeling and mashing. I prefer real potatoes and am willing to put in the time to mash (though I just buy the thin-skinned ones and don't bother to peel!) but I can get on board with the overall philosophy: maybe it won't win me any gourmet cooking awards, but serving up some refrigerated crescent rolls with an otherwise wholesome, homemade meal beats a last-minute “I just can’t DO THIS ANYMORE!” run to the drive-thru any day.

Serve bread and focus on your own plate. Nothing wrecks mealtime like obsessing over how much your kids are or aren’t eating. Of course you want them to eat the veggies you’ve lovingly prepared, but is it worth a fight? Come up with some laid-back table rule—say, they have to try a bite of each food—but if they aren’t having it, don’t let it ruin your meal. I give my mom major props for never giving into dinnertime drama or trying to control our eating habits, and I think it's a big part of the reason I don't have major food hangups today, even though I went through a very picky phase as a child. Make sure there’s something at each meal that they will eat (bread, rice, fruit, cheese, etc) and focus on enjoying your own meal rather than trying to control theirs—or worse, offering to jump up and make an alternative. Most kids will eventually outgrow pickiness…especially if they see other people enjoying the Brussels Sprouts while they’re eating yet another plate of brown rice.

Did your mom teach you any important lessons about getting dinner on the table with a minimum of stress and fuss? Share those tips and memories in the comments below.

Meagan Francis, The Happiest Mom

[BlogHer Food '12BlogHer Food '12 will bring food bloggers together to learn, share, inspire, and of course, to EAT! Whether you're new to food blogging or an old pro, you should join us in Seattle, WA on June 8-9, 2012 -- register now!]


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