Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week night family dinner goals

I would say my goals for week night meals are as follows, not in order.
  1. serve the entire family a healthy meal, using as few processed foods as possible.
  2. make dinner in less than 20 minutes
  3. eat together
  4. reduce whining about what is eaten
  5. don't make entire kitchen dirty
  6. make one meal for everyone
This week is a bit odd as I'm deep into "use up food before going on vacation" mode even though we're only leaving for 4 days. So one night the boys were out late at karate and I made Alex and Dave individual pizzas, using already cooked ground beef for Dave. Alex got his own plain pizza and was so excited. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me before to break up the mound of dough I buy each week. Natasha was at a friend's house and I kind of used up various bits leftovers, eating standing up in a very unsatisfying way. But making the pizzas with the already browned beef was fast and not messy.

Last night called Dave and asked him to make rice in the rice cooker, which took a full 5 minutes, much to the amusement of my next door work neighbor. When I got home I heated up the tofu-veggie mix in the microwave. I also warmed up some frozen corn and pre-made TJs chicken meatballs. So we all ate the corn and rice and the kids ate the meatballs (well Dave ate a few too) and Dave and I ate the tofu-veggies. I count this as making 1.5 meals. So this was an admitted defeat of sorts. The chicken meatballs were undoubtedly in the processed category, even though TJs doesn't use a lot of preservatives and junk. I actually bought them for this very purpose - which is to feed to the kids when I feel like making something un-kid friendly for me and Dave, such as tofu, or something really spicy.

Tonight Dave and are eating at a neighbor's, and I'll have to scrape something up for the kids. They'll probably get sandwiches or eggs in a tortilla. Thursday will really be scraping the bottom of the barrel and then we leave Friday mid-day.

So I realize that we're still all eating too many processed foods, such as chicken sausage for the adults or turkey meatballs for the kids. I had kind of let the relative normal sounding list of ingredients on TJs frozen foods lull me into denying that they are still processed foods. I mean at one level, if the ingredients really are, "chicken, bread crumbs, salt" that's not so bad. But of course they use all sorts of junk I'm sure, even within those foods. Actually, I'm sure the fresh chicken sausage at Whole Foods is much healthier than anything frozen and in shrink-wrap, but I don't shop at Whole Foods much. And while I don't want to feed my kids frozen meatballs every night I also really don't like the idea of being overly ideological, ie crazy, about what "processed" means. I mean you could argue that whole wheat flour is "processed" as opposed to wheat berries. But that's just silly.

I should note that my mother and sister-in-law both make home made meat balls often - with my sister-in-law even grinding the meat herself. I have always found this to be very labor intensive and messy, and the kids don't notice the difference between frozen and home made. But Dave does. Perhaps I'll try making a huge batch one weekend and freezing them myself. I guess I've never done this because I don't really like meatballs or meatloaf. Perhaps this is a bad reason.

I kind of abide by the Dr. Oz rule, which is to not eat anything with more that 5 ingredients listed on the package. I should clarify, I think that is a rational goal, I don't always abide by it, but I try. But sometimes goals 2,4 and 5 beat out goal 1.

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