The Pain Menu…Blah!

The new school year has been in session for a little over a month now and it’s been busy, busy, busy!  Are you having one of those months too? And I thought I was going to be relaxing!

One of the busiest parts of my day is making and planning meals for the entire family.  Realistic meals, not fancy, gourmet meals like those depicted on tv.  Even though the children and my husband are away during the day, I still make three meals a day.  Breakfast for everyone to start the day, lunch for my husband and little girl when she gets out of school, and then dinner for everyone again.

Meals for breakfast and lunch are not that difficult to prepare but dinner does take a little more time.  I want to give my family something substantial, healthy, and varied.

The substantial part is tricky.  I’ve found that every day is different because they are not always that hungry, especially if the kids have a snack, however small.  Sometimes though, they are very hungry and they want to eat everything in sight!  How much to make is hard to estimate and more often than not, I must admit that I end up with leftovers I don’t know what to do with.  Unfortunately for me, the only person in my family who likes leftovers is me.  Solving this problem is just to try to strike some kind of balance with each meal.  I know what they like and to that, I add what I want them to eat, such as disguised veggies.  Does it work?  Only sometimes.

Healthy meals?  My kids run and hide when I mention “healthy”, like it’s a bad word!  We all want that, right?  But it’s hard.  I think that well-know tip about hiding veggies into meals is as good as it gets when you are trying to feed your kids vegetables.  They just don’t like to look at them so they automatically reject them.  Then, they also go into stages, when, for example, at one point they adored mac and cheese and then all of a sudden they don’t.  What I do here is really just boil it down to basics.  As long as they have some of all of the food groups (if possible), then I’m happy.  I’ve insisted that they drink water, for one.  With my husband they get away with drinking several servings of juice but not with me.  They know that if they finish their juice (about 8 oz. max) and if they are still thirsty, then they can revert to drinking water.  It works.

Ah, yes, the variety.  This is perhaps the only fun part of planning meals.  They eat two weeks worth of varied meals every month, so it doesn’t seem to them that they are eating the same thing all the time.  And they like all kinds of things I make:  enchiladas, spaghetti, tacos, meatloaf, tapatias, hamburgers, beef stew, and so on.

So, is it hard to make meals for your family?  What are your tips?

This is a family favorite:

Enchiladas

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