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Today's Family Magazine

Dinnertime dilemmas

By Stacy Turner

Now that school is back in session and our family schedule is filling up with sports and other back-to-school activities, filling up at mealtime has once again become a challenge.  I’m sure we’re not the only family with members running in a variety of directions at different times during what formerly was dinnertime. 

When everyone is hungry, some of us are hangry, and we need food fast.  Sometimes we get fast food, but too much of a good thing, even when it’s Chick-Fil-a, isn’t all that good.

I saw a T-shirt that summed it up perfectly.  “I hate it when I’m waiting for mom to cook dinner, and then remember I am mom.”  While everyone in my family has plenty of opinions on what they don’t like about whatever I’ve decided to make, it’s not often they share suggestions on what they’d actually like for dinner. 

Over time, we’ve each learned to make the dishes we most enjoy, and it’s taken some of the stress out of menu planning.  Over the summer, my youngest perfected smoothie bowls, topped with fruit, nuts, and granola, and looking as Instagram-worthy as they taste. When she became a fan of lo mein, we found a recipe online and she’s learned to make it at home.  You know, give a girl lo mein and she eats that night.  Teach her to make lo mein, (which she calls Chinese noodles), and the world is her oyster, or something like that.

And thanks to inspiration from certain fast casual Mexican-inspired restaurants, we eat our fill of tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, taco salads, and loaded nachos each week.  My oldest, the Mexican food aficionado, makes the best guacamole.  During lock down, she mastered a recipe for chicken enchiladas, something she named spicy buddies.  We’ve added cowboy caviar to our repertoire, too, and we’re working on perfecting our Spanish rice.

Man cannot live by burgers and hot dogs alone…even my husband. Although he claimed the salads prepped in advance were ‘too pretentious’ to eat in the stands at our kids’ sports events.  When anyone complains about whatever I’ve made for dinner, I give them the option to eat whatever they made. In this case, he ate the dang salad. 

My husband may not love salads, but he has mastered the art of pizza making.  Every Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find him layering hand-shredded cheese and hand-cut pepperoni on the homemade thin crust he makes from scratch.  The other nights may be a grab bag filled with whatever I can figure out, but at least we’ve got pizza night to look forward to at the end of each long week. 

And when I’m completely out of ideas and suggest cereal and milk, suddenly the “I don’t knows” and “I don’t cares” turn into valid suggestions.  Sometimes, we even work together to get dinner on the table. And sometimes, we do have breakfast for dinner, but instead of cereal, it’s eggs, pancakes, or waffles. 

But no matter what you end up eating for dinner, at the end of the day, it’s much more important who you share it with.  Even if you end up eating cereal.