Meal planning is one of the most dreadful tasks I have as a domestic engineer. I don't mind grocery shopping and I like to cook, but planning a menu is a thorn in my side. It is one of the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning - "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" As a family we have attempted a week-at-a-time menu. It worked well while we kept up with it, but soon it fell to the wayside. So now we have come up with "theme" nights. Monday - hotdish, Tuesday - Mexican night, Wednesday - brupper, Thursday - grill, Friday - pizza, Saturday - parent's choice, Sunday - smorgasborg. My favorite night is Wednesday brupper (breakfast for supper). Other than Friday's pizza, it is the one night even my picky eaters will enjoy. Tonight we had french toast and bacon. Not one morsel remained.
Cooking for a large family poses a few problems. In the mix, I have a couple of picky eaters, two that will eat almost everything, one that barely eats anything, and one who loves to leave the table early, only to wander back and eat off mine and Monkey Toes plates. So creating the "perfect" meal is rare. Tonight as I pulled out the large griddle, Sweet Pea and Pumpkin Pie decided it would be fun to crawl around me and through my legs. I finally convinced them to play with the Mr. Potato Head. I knew this would buy me a few minutes of peace, so I went into the zone - that is, I pretended I was an Iron Chef.
I hurried from the refrigerator, to the stove, to the cupboard, gathering a mixing bowl, whisk, and ingredients. I cracked eggs, added a little this and that and whisked to my little hearts content. While the french toast was cooking, I started the bacon, made some syrup, mixed the orange juice and set the table. I had my hair pulled back, a towel on my shoulder and a spatula in hand. With food on the table, I proudly called out to my brood "suuuuuuuuupper", to which I heard big and little feet scurry into the kitchen. We all sat down, said our meal prayer and I served up my creations. In about 10 minutes, the only ones who remained were me and the baby in the highchair. We sat and looked at each other as if to say "what just happend and where did everyone go?" Then, I just laughed.
It doesn't matter if it takes me 5 minutes or 2 hours to prepare a meal. For the kids, mealtime is more or less a pitstop in their daily schedules. I can take great care in producing a delicious, nutritious, and pretty to look at meal, or I can slap together a bunch of PB& J's and the kids wouldn't know the difference (at least not yet). Whether grand or simple, mealtime is more about sitting down together as a family, with no distractions, even if for just 10 minutes. Now. . . .what to serve for tomorrow. . . .hmmmm. . . .