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Caraway

I Feel Such Rage About Planning/Cooking Dinner

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I leave the house mid afternoon to commute to my kids’ sports activities and then don’t return home until 7 pm. 

I am trying to “organize” dinner so we can eat as soon as we are home without a bunch of hassle. I’m tired of daily grocery shopping and the general waste of my time. 

We are gluten free, Whole 30 style eaters. Usually I cannot eat the same meal as my family and have to create a second meal for myself, or eat something I’ve meal prepped for myself. 

Im sitting here with a cookbook where you cook some things on the weekend and then reassemble during the weeknights. It seems fine, and like it might even work for us. 

Yet I am so full of rage on this topic. Why am I in charge?  I’m not even eating the food. Why do I have to figure out how to make it all work?  Why do I have to make their meals fast, exciting, and healthy every night?  Why can’t anyone else realize that if you’re eating 3 eggs for breakfast 7 days a week you’re going to need to start with more than 4 eggs?

I think what I need is an attitude adjustment, but what I want is to burn the whole situation to the ground. 

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Is there someone else who should be working on this who is not?  Because that's something that causes resentment.

Regarding how to feel better--you might consider a 'standard' shopping list in Word that you can copy and doctor up.  Basics like eggs, milk, butter, etc. would be on that.  Salad greens.  Cheese, peanut butter, bread, oatmeal if you eat that, whatever normal breakfast stuff you eat.  All you do is put in the quantities for those, in a place on the left side--like, if this is a big egg week put a 3 dozen in front of the eggs on the list.

Then for specials, you get two packages of chicken, 1 of ground beef, and one of sausage, for instance, plus whatever specific things you want to have to cook with them.  Leave room at the bottom of the list for these.

You buy this all in one trip.  

That means that you're not shopping every day, and you don't have specific menu daily--you have stuff around for several options each night at dinner, but you are not bound to a specific meal (which is what I used to founder on.  Some people plan their meals on the calendar day by day, but I need a little more flexibility than that.)

Also, you stock your freezer/larder with a couple of good freezer meals that you can whip out quickly in a pinch.  We don't do Whole 30 and I'm sure ours would not suit you, but we always have a frozen polenta pizza crust in the freezer, and cheese in the fridge that we can put on it.  We also usually one Chinese food dish like Mandarin chicken or General Tso's chicken in the freezer, or frozen potstickers.  We keep canned baked beans in the larder, which we all like as an occasional main dish, and boxed mac n cheese.  These are not regular meals but having them available quickly keeps us from going out to eat when we are too hungry or tired to actually cook.  Building margin into your life is really helpful.

Another margin thing is to have all the spices and herbs that you normally use stocked in the kitchen so you don't have to run out to the store at the last minute for 'just one thing'.

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OK, coming from the perspective that I know exactly how you feel, because I have BTDT (for a thousand years, it seems) on the daily activities and multiple special diets...

 

Who in the world ever said that you had to achieve fast, exciting, AND healthy, EVERY night?

For the kids, crockpot whatever*, salad, fresh fruit, and whatever bread they can have...literally every activity night. As long as you aren't serving literally the same meal every night, it doesn't matter that this is the format. Just change up the meats, starches, veggies, and fruits.

Set up a special cupboard and fridge area for the foods you need for your diet.

When you get home, serve up the kids' entrée, salad, fruit, and maybe bread, and then fix what you need.

 

*Or soup/stew that is kept hot in the crockpot. Or cooked-ahead meats in the fridge, to heat up, and just do the quick vegetable sides while they are putting away gear and washing up for dinner. 

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Other people have good ideas about how to get past this- how to streamline, get others involved, etc. 

‘But all I can do is sympathize. I’ve been menu planning and grocery shopping and managing food budget and inventories for decades and I’m just tired of it. Almost rage tired sometimes. So I understand. Been there, done that, got through it multiple times, and survived. But when it crops up, (and it currently is because dh is newly retired but here I am, resenting that I still have this task) I get crabby.  I allow myself to get crabby, but not drown in my irritation. And then work through it. 

I hope you get some good ideas to help you past it. And in the meantime, hugs. 

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50 minutes ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

OK, coming from the perspective that I know exactly how you feel, because I have BTDT (for a thousand years, it seems) on the daily activities and multiple special diets...

 

Who in the world ever said that you had to achieve fast, exciting, AND healthy, EVERY night?

For the kids, crockpot whatever*, salad, fresh fruit, and whatever bread they can have...literally every activity night. As long as you aren't serving literally the same meal every night, it doesn't matter that this is the format. Just change up the meats, starches, veggies, and fruits.

Set up a special cupboard and fridge area for the foods you need for your diet.

When you get home, serve up the kids' entrée, salad, fruit, and maybe bread, and then fix what you need.

 

*Or soup/stew that is kept hot in the crockpot. Or cooked-ahead meats in the fridge, to heat up, and just do the quick vegetable sides while they are putting away gear and washing up for dinner. 

I have a specialized diet and we have a tube fed kiddo. That’s exactly what we do.

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Meals that do the job of feeding people do not have to be exciting.  And if there are people requiring that then they need to start making meals.  I don't know how many and how old your kids are but I will say, my ten year old makes dinner once a week.  My 6, 9, and 10 year old make lunch for everyone most days, any many times it is a hot meal.  The 10 year old will also make eggs for breakfast if I ask him too.  So,my solution to your problem would be that people start contributing or evening activities are no longer a doable thing for the family.

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I have BTDT. It has been rooted in my work being unappreciated and others not pulling their weight. 

My solutions?:

1. Menu plan (for the realistic time you have to allot) to minimize thinking about meal planning 

2. Switch to instant pot recipes, buy a good food processor and use other machines to minimize your work

3. Have others take over some meals

4. Look at the overall work balance in your life.

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How old are your kids? Do you have a partner? If you have teens and/or a partner, I would start delegating responsibilities and letting anyone who is old enough fix their own meals at least a few nights a week, even if it's just sandwiches on gluten-free bread, burritos or quesadillas on gluten-free tortillas, or an omelet or something. Microwaveable brown rice + a bag of stir-fry veg can be prepared in 15 minutes by anyone over the age of 12 – and even DHs. 😉 

As a single parent of teens, I stopped making big cooked dinners each night and just started stocking the fridge on weekends and I would usually prepare one or two cooked dishes that could be heated up during the week, like a big pot of pasta (I use brown rice & quinoa pasta) with red sauce and meat for DS and one with veggies and beans for DD and myself. If DS isn't home, DD and I will chop up a ton of veggies on the weekend (red & yellow peppers, green onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and whatever else looks good that week), cook or drain some chickpeas or black beans or cannellini beans and keep them in a container dressed with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, and I usually have stuff like marinated artichoke hearts, olives, crumbled feta, capers, etc., in the fridge. So whenever we're hungry during the week, we can mix and match to make meals, like the chopped veggie mix + diced zucchini + artichoke hearts + cannellini beans w/basil & oregano + shaved parmesan, dumped over warm pasta with olive oil & lemon. Or the veggie mix with black beans, frozen roasted corn, cilantro, cotija cheese, and lime juice eaten with corn chips. Or veggie mix + chickpeas + chopped spinach + olives + feta + quinoa for a sort of Greek quinoa salad. I also keep tortillas, cheese, beans, and salsa in the fridge, and when DS is home I will cook and shred some chicken breasts, so anyone can make themselves a burrito or quesadilla any time they want.

If you think in terms of "modules" instead of meals, you can stock the fridge with components that can be combined by different people in different ways for different meals, and everyone can help themselves.

Edited by Corraleno
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I eat Whole30 and cook 2 times a week. Here's how.

We eat 4 meals per week, 3 nights are leftovers. Sunday/Wednesday is a fish meal, Monday/Thursday is a steak meal, Tuesday/Friday is chicken or pork, on Saturday my 8 year old makes burgers. Each meal is doubled to ensure adequate leftovers but one meal is quadrupled and half is frozen for another week.

Last week was Tuna salad with salad, meatloaf and roasted veggies from the freezer, and breakfast casserole. So I had to make Tuna salad, salad and breakfast casserole.

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15 minutes ago, Slache said:

I eat Whole30 and cook 2 times a week. Here's how.

We eat 4 meals per week, 3 nights are leftovers. Sunday/Wednesday is a fish meal, Monday/Thursday is a steak meal, Tuesday/Friday is chicken or pork, on Saturday my 8 year old makes burgers. Each meal is doubled to ensure adequate leftovers but one meal is quadrupled and half is frozen for another week.

Last week was Tuna salad with salad, meatloaf and roasted veggies from the freezer, and breakfast casserole. So I had to make Tuna salad, salad and breakfast casserole.

I sense you’re doing something that would help me, but I’m not quite following along. Are your 3 nights of leftovers included in the 4 meals?  Or 4 meals plus 3 leftover?  When you say “steak meal” is that something separate that you’re cooking outside what you list at the bottom?

 

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Chiming in...even 6 year olds can make simple meals. At my house, anyone 10+ can make a full meal.

When we go grocery shopping, my 6 yo is in charge of washing the veg, my 10 yo helps with prep. My older boys pre-prep meal components—cooking taco meat, chicken, bulk freezer prepping breakfast tacos, etc.

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Ok similar boat, though now with fewer people. 

Our solution is to prep components  on the weekend (or whatever one day a week works) and then each person can combine whatever they like to make a bowl or salad. 

So, I try to stock with things like grilled meat (usually chicken), a cooked grain (rice and/or quinoa), black beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, cut fresh veggies, some roasted veggies (Brussels Sprouts, green beans, sweet potato, asparagus), olives, boiled eggs, and dressings like olive oil, salsa, balsamic vinegar. Not all of these things every week, but a variety of things that gives flexibility for whoever can or cannot eat certain things. I also keep smoothie ingredients and protein bars (allergy friendly Enjoy Life which I order in bulk from amazon) on hand for quick breakfasts and lunch. 

On the slower paced weekends, we grill or I make some regular traditional family style meals. 

I feel your pain about the responsibility of it all. I learned the hard way that trying to share the grocery purchasing and “every man for himself” approach just shot my food budget to the moon. With the current approach, I can take into account allergies and preferences in the variety of meal building components I keep on hand. And to be honest, my please-people-through-food side has diminished to a very low level. There is no organic pistachio ice cream here. 

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6 minutes ago, Caraway said:

I sense you’re doing something that would help me, but I’m not quite following along. Are your 3 nights of leftovers included in the 4 meals?  Or 4 meals plus 3 leftover?  When you say “steak meal” is that something separate that you’re cooking outside what you list at the bottom?

 

Expanding my next quote below:

24 minutes ago, Slache said:

Last week was Tuna salad with salad, meatloaf and roasted veggies from the freezer, and breakfast casserole. So I had to make Tuna salad, salad and breakfast casserole.

On Sunday I made a huge thing of tuna salad and broccoli slaw. Half of it got put away for Wednsday.

On Monday I pulled meatloaf and roasted veggies from the freezer and tossed them in the oven. This was dinner for Monday and Thursday.

On Tuesday I made breakfast casserole. There was enough to have leftovers on Friday and a second casserole for the freezer so I could only cook two meals a following week.

Saturday the boy made burgers. So I made the tuna and slaw, and the breakfast casserole but the meatloaf and roasted veggies were made 2 or 3 weeks ago when we had meatloaf and roasted veggies.

I typically don't cook food twice. The meatloaf and roasted veggies were raw but already prepared for the oven a few weeks ago. I didn't cook the second breakfast casserole last week. I prepared it and then froze it without eggs so I'll have to break 12 eggs before I toss it in the oven in 2 weeks.

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3 hours ago, Caraway said:

 Why do I have to make their meals fast, exciting, and healthy every night?  

I think what I need is an attitude adjustment, but what I want is to burn the whole situation to the ground. 

 

Anyone who is picky cooks their own meals. I told my whiny DS13 that I am not up to cooking for him only to have him complain about the food. We stick to fast and healthy, no way do we bother with making food exciting. 

My DS14 is the most picky in my family. He cooked baked salmon one dinner and steamed salmon another dinner.

What help was having the ingredients for DS14 to cook for himself: salmon, garlic, ginger, spring onions, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, turmeric, miso paste, kelp, seasonal vegetables. 

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Are you homeschooling or working outside the house?  I feel that homeschooling is a full time job and, as such, my dh and I see the household chores the way a couple that is working outside the house does.  He has done the grocery shopping since my oldest was 5.  He has cooked twice a week since I started staying home with the kids.  This helps a lot.  I do get burned out sometimes, but I get breaks.

When I am burned out, I tend to do really easy meals for a while---grilled chicken is fast (and you can marinate it while you are at sports).  Cook rice in the rice cooker (with a delay timer), add salad and/or a bag of microwave veg.  Hamburgers are fast.  You can find recipes for things that you can put together and freeze that can be thawed and thrown in the crockpot, also.  Sub sandwiches are a hit for my crew.  Scrambled eggs works in a pinch.

Maybe come up with 2 weeks of easy for you recipes and repeat them a couple of times.  When you are out of your slump, you can get more creative.  Hand anyone who complains a cookbook.

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I've been cooking 3 double sized meals a week.  For example:

Sunday night cook a double batch of Monterrey Chicken and rice.  Leave half in the fridge for another night.
Monday cook pasta and sauce (meatballs optional.) Leave half in the fridge for another night.
Tuesday make lentil salad.  Leave half in the fridge for another night. 
Wednesday at the left over Monterrey Chicken and rice for dinner, go to the Wednesday night church service.
Thursday drop kid off at Co-OP, grocery shop,  pick kid up,  come home, and eat leftover pasta and sauce (meatballs optional.)
Friday go to Park Day in the afternoon, come home and eat leftover lentil salad.
Saturday eat out.
Sunday eat out or eat packaged frozen meal.

Lunches are easy:
bean burritos-canned beans, shredded cheese, salsa
sandwiches
eggs, toast, fruit, (meat optional)
reheated soup, rice dish, or lentil dish I bulk cook on breaks and freeze in individual portions
bagged salad, Parmesan cheese, bottled Caesar Salad dressing, chicken breast sliced (I bulk grill a dozen at a time and freeze them individually for tacos, salads, rice bowls, fajitas, etc.)
rice bowls (I bulk cook rice, freeze it individually) with leftover protein (meat, beans, lentils) veggies, salsa or use frozen protein/veg steamer bag from Bird's Eye
 

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You don't have to be in charge.

I hate cooking.  I do it on nights I have to, but there are more times I don't.  Dh cooks on his days off.  Oldest kid cooks one night a week.  We have leftovers at least one other night.  That makes 2 nights I really have to plan AND cook.  We have a homemade recipe binder with dividers in it to sort by protein.  Most of the recipes include a main dish and a side.  All I do before shopping is grab the pages we want, sort the food in the fridge, and put the pages on a book holder in the kitchen.  Anyone willing can step up and cook the meal.

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(hugs)

My suggestions are:

-simplify meals

-delegate

Ages ago I started doing a set meal plan for each week- Italian Monday; Mexican Tuesday; Stew/Roast Wed; Thurs leftovers; Fri pizza (homemade or frozen); Sat Chili/Soup; Sun Roast Chicken/BBQ. Now, I prefer to plan different things but that is still my default when I'm short on time and energy and if I don't get a plan made before the store then I'll just buy the stuff for that. 

I dont' cook perfectly healthy meals and don't generally cook multiple meals although they eat more grains/carbs and dairy than I do. On something like spaghetti night I sometimes have noodles and sometimes a bunch of veggies, Taco night is a generally taco salad for me.

And the stores do sell healthier frozen and premade meals and meal components these days. I bought myself a ccauliflower pizza the other day for pizza night and the pizza night before I grabbed steaks for dh and I and paired it with baked potatoes and salad mix. 

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Buy your DH/partner a flat top grill. Since my DH got his, he's cooked dinner 2x/week, minimum. (Now, he'll sometimes want to use my good washcloths to clean up...but that's another thread...;)) 

Joking aside, I feel ya. Being solely responsible for everyone's food and nutrition is exhausting. 

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I don't know your weather, but I'd be having your partner GRILL. 

You need to have some boxes of staples, idiot-proof stuff in the freezer. So like around here that's Trader Joes frozen fish bites (pollock squares) and turkey burgers. That way we always, definitely have dinner. And fish bites come in gluten free, so they still work.

And it sounds like you need some things in the freezer that are YOURS, so that you aren't getting run down or overwhelmed. Like whatever it is that works for you, buy it and put it in there or prep it and freeze it ahead. So I buy some little bean/rice burritoes from Trader Joes and eggplant parmesan (single serving). Those are splurges, but that way in a pinch I have food, no matter what. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. 

So up-prioritize YOUR food and make yourself happy and full and contented first. Menu plan yourself first.

Next, I agree with the statement that if that kind of schedule is necessary then compromise is necessary. I suggest investigating every food option along the way to find something compatible with your necessities. Like for me, traveling a lot for ds' therapies, I can go to Wendy's and get a baked potato. It's cheap, fast, warm, and if I get it plain it's not going to flab me up. You would think plain is awful, but it isn't. They're very juice, nice potatoes!! They also have a decent caesar side salad that works for us.

Chipotle can also be kind of flexible, and in our state we have a lot of chicken finger restaurants, haha. We don't do beef, so I'm always looking for alternatives.

As far as the gluten free we use some staples, especially in the winter when people want warm, filling meals. Wild rice, quinoa, split pea soup, etc. So I can make a pot and keep it in the frig and it just goes with whatever else is being served. 

It sounds like you need some crockpot recipes. Cooks Illustrated has a wonderful salsa verde chicken that you shred and can serve with whatever. So, so good. You saute the aromatics and then let it go.

I also freeze pancakes (oatmeal, blah blah). I freeze ahead stuffed bell peppers. 

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You might consider making the main meal lunch, when you are home to both cook it and enjoy it, and let dinner after activities be either leftovers or whatever your version of "milk and cereal and fruit" is. 

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Ever since my kids were little I have done groceries on Sundays.Dh used to travel a lot and that worked well for our schedules.Both my kids(21 and 18) are home going to college and I have stayed with the same schedule.I have a set menu .

My lunch menu has been the same for a long time Monday-sandwich,Tuesday-Tacos,Wednesday-Quesadilla,Thursday-eggs,Friday -pasta.My kids are in and out but they know what is cooking at home if they want they can come fix it for themselves or if they are home when I'm cooking I'll make for them as well.

Try to keep it simple and when you cook make double the quantity like other posters have said.I have 10-12 dishes I make regularly and then if I have time I make something elaborate for dinner.Breakfast for dinner is also a good idea things like Fritata I pair it with corn bread,If you bake the cornbread in the morning the fritata can be made very quickly.My DD has food allergies and some issues and Mexican food is her go to.I always have the ingredients on hand.Tacos/Tostada shells/Taco salad shells/Tortillas(I keep a few different varieties on hand) are good to have on hand.Of course eggs will always make a filling meal.

Any grocery store has cooked chicken if you are short on time and feel you don't have time to bake/cook your meat buy it premade! You can make chili in the IP and use corn bread as the side-so look for recipes that have a common side so when you make it you can use it twice. If your library has any of the taste of home annual cookbook check it out they have a huge variety of meals-a lot of them are from their magazine all compiled in 1 book.Its a wonderful resource.When my mom/Mil come to visit I have to cook more due to their food restrictions(diabetic,low sodium,Vegan) I cook an additional dish for them.Due to my DD's class schedule I drop and pick her up(the kids share a car) so I do drive a bit and help DH in his business so I am not home much so the menu helps a lot!Hope all the ideas help you!

 

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6 hours ago, Caraway said:

I leave the house mid afternoon to commute to my kids’ sports activities and then don’t return home until 7 pm. 

I am trying to “organize” dinner so we can eat as soon as we are home without a bunch of hassle. I’m tired of daily grocery shopping and the general waste of my time. 

We are gluten free, Whole 30 style eaters. Usually I cannot eat the same meal as my family and have to create a second meal for myself, or eat something I’ve meal prepped for myself. 

Im sitting here with a cookbook where you cook some things on the weekend and then reassemble during the weeknights. It seems fine, and like it might even work for us. 

Yet I am so full of rage on this topic. Why am I in charge?  I’m not even eating the food. Why do I have to figure out how to make it all work?  Why do I have to make their meals fast, exciting, and healthy every night?  Why can’t anyone else realize that if you’re eating 3 eggs for breakfast 7 days a week you’re going to need to start with more than 4 eggs?

I think what I need is an attitude adjustment, but what I want is to burn the whole situation to the ground. 

PREACH.

This is so relatable. Adding to the struggle recently is that dd is suddenly chicken intolerant. She got food poisoning a few weeks back from bad chicken, and now every single time we eat chicken she gets stomach symptoms. Half of my recipes are chicken. I'm at a loss.

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I didn't see the age of your kids, but from the time my kids were pretty young we have been having what we call "own" dinners once or twice a week.  This is where everyone gets their own dinner.  I just am sure to keep stuff on hand that people can use, and this includes frozen dinners.  

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My dh and I cook and eat different things at the same time.  When ds was home, he would choose whose food he was going to eat.  Dh made him breakfast every morning, I made his lunch.  

My dh eats weird stuff.  (He thinks I eat weird stuff.)

It's even more pronounced now that we are essentially empty-nesters.  

If I had it to do over again, I would have had ds join in the cooking at a very early age.  My bad.

 

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7 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

Is there someone else who should be working on this who is not?  Because that's something that causes resentment.

Regarding how to feel better--you might consider a 'standard' shopping list in Word that you can copy and doctor up.  Basics like eggs, milk, butter, etc. would be on that.  Salad greens.  Cheese, peanut butter, bread, oatmeal if you eat that, whatever normal breakfast stuff you eat.  All you do is put in the quantities for those, in a place on the left side--like, if this is a big egg week put a 3 dozen in front of the eggs on the list.

Then for specials, you get two packages of chicken, 1 of ground beef, and one of sausage, for instance, plus whatever specific things you want to have to cook with them.  Leave room at the bottom of the list for these.

You buy this all in one trip.  

That means that you're not shopping every day, and you don't have specific menu daily--you have stuff around for several options each night at dinner, but you are not bound to a specific meal (which is what I used to founder on.  Some people plan their meals on the calendar day by day, but I need a little more flexibility than that.)

Also, you stock your freezer/larder with a couple of good freezer meals that you can whip out quickly in a pinch.  We don't do Whole 30 and I'm sure ours would not suit you, but we always have a frozen polenta pizza crust in the freezer, and cheese in the fridge that we can put on it.  We also usually one Chinese food dish like Mandarin chicken or General Tso's chicken in the freezer, or frozen potstickers.  We keep canned baked beans in the larder, which we all like as an occasional main dish, and boxed mac n cheese.  These are not regular meals but having them available quickly keeps us from going out to eat when we are too hungry or tired to actually cook.  Building margin into your life is really helpful.

Another margin thing is to have all the spices and herbs that you normally use stocked in the kitchen so you don't have to run out to the store at the last minute for 'just one thing'.

So I do this (except freezer meals because our freezer is beyond tiny). If I buy components everyone eats what they want, leaving no stuff for dinner. Plus I still have to think of and cook the dinner at 7 pm. Plus if I want anyone else to help it has to be way more specific. I agree about building in margin, just not sure how. 

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7 hours ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

OK, coming from the perspective that I know exactly how you feel, because I have BTDT (for a thousand years, it seems) on the daily activities and multiple special diets...

 

Who in the world ever said that you had to achieve fast, exciting, AND healthy, EVERY night?

For the kids, crockpot whatever*, salad, fresh fruit, and whatever bread they can have...literally every activity night. As long as you aren't serving literally the same meal every night, it doesn't matter that this is the format. Just change up the meats, starches, veggies, and fruits.

Set up a special cupboard and fridge area for the foods you need for your diet.

When you get home, serve up the kids' entrée, salad, fruit, and maybe bread, and then fix what you need.

 

*Or soup/stew that is kept hot in the crockpot. Or cooked-ahead meats in the fridge, to heat up, and just do the quick vegetable sides while they are putting away gear and washing up for dinner. 

Do you have some favorite crockpot suggestions?  I basically only do variations on shredded chicken (spicy shredded chicken, green salsa shredded chicken, curry shredded chicken, bbq shredded chicken).  It’s also currently a thousand degrees here - I feel badly about serving night after night of hot wintery meals. 

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7 hours ago, Annie G said:

Other people have good ideas about how to get past this- how to streamline, get others involved, etc. 

‘But all I can do is sympathize. I’ve been menu planning and grocery shopping and managing food budget and inventories for decades and I’m just tired of it. Almost rage tired sometimes. So I understand. Been there, done that, got through it multiple times, and survived. But when it crops up, (and it currently is because dh is newly retired but here I am, resenting that I still have this task) I get crabby.  I allow myself to get crabby, but not drown in my irritation. And then work through it. 

I hope you get some good ideas to help you past it. And in the meantime, hugs. 

 

Thank you. ❤️

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6 hours ago, hjffkj said:

Meals that do the job of feeding people do not have to be exciting.  And if there are people requiring that then they need to start making meals.  I don't know how many and how old your kids are but I will say, my ten year old makes dinner once a week.  My 6, 9, and 10 year old make lunch for everyone most days, any many times it is a hot meal.  The 10 year old will also make eggs for breakfast if I ask him too.  So,my solution to your problem would be that people start contributing or evening activities are no longer a doable thing for the family.

 

My eldest has a schedule too heavy to cook. The middle could handle it but I am not comfortable with her cooking when I’m not home. 

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5 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I have BTDT. It has been rooted in my work being unappreciated and others not pulling their weight. 

My solutions?:

1. Menu plan (for the realistic time you have to allot) to minimize thinking about meal planning 

2. Switch to instant pot recipes, buy a good food processor and use other machines to minimize your work

3. Have others take over some meals

4. Look at the overall work balance in your life.

 I have an instant pot. I haven’t found it faster and the product is unpredictable. I know a lot of people live it, so maybe I’m not doing the right things. 

Im clearly failing at #4. 😬

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5 hours ago, Corraleno said:

How old are your kids? Do you have a partner? If you have teens and/or a partner, I would start delegating responsibilities and letting anyone who is old enough fix their own meals at least a few nights a week, even if it's just sandwiches on gluten-free bread, burritos or quesadillas on gluten-free tortillas, or an omelet or something. Microwaveable brown rice + a bag of stir-fry veg can be prepared in 15 minutes by anyone over the age of 12 – and even DHs. 😉 

As a single parent of teens, I stopped making big cooked dinners each night and just started stocking the fridge on weekends and I would usually prepare one or two cooked dishes that could be heated up during the week, like a big pot of pasta (I use brown rice & quinoa pasta) with red sauce and meat for DS and one with veggies and beans for DD and myself. If DS isn't home, DD and I will chop up a ton of veggies on the weekend (red & yellow peppers, green onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and whatever else looks good that week), cook or drain some chickpeas or black beans or cannellini beans and keep them in a container dressed with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, and I usually have stuff like marinated artichoke hearts, olives, crumbled feta, capers, etc., in the fridge. So whenever we're hungry during the week, we can mix and match to make meals, like the chopped veggie mix + diced zucchini + artichoke hearts + cannellini beans w/basil & oregano + shaved parmesan, dumped over warm pasta with olive oil & lemon. Or the veggie mix with black beans, frozen roasted corn, cilantro, cotija cheese, and lime juice eaten with corn chips. Or veggie mix + chickpeas + chopped spinach + olives + feta + quinoa for a sort of Greek quinoa salad. I also keep tortillas, cheese, beans, and salsa in the fridge, and when DS is home I will cook and shred some chicken breasts, so anyone can make themselves a burrito or quesadilla any time they want.

If you think in terms of "modules" instead of meals, you can stock the fridge with components that can be combined by different people in different ways for different meals, and everyone can help themselves.

 We are in module mode now and it’s chaos. The teens eat a ton of food and I can’t keep up this way. They are happy to cook for themselves but I am unwilling to let them eat what they want to cook. 

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5 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Chiming in...even 6 year olds can make simple meals. At my house, anyone 10+ can make a full meal.

When we go grocery shopping, my 6 yo is in charge of washing the veg, my 10 yo helps with prep. My older boys pre-prep meal components—cooking taco meat, chicken, bulk freezer prepping breakfast tacos, etc.

I need to work on this. It’s a struggle to get over the hump where it is easier to do it myself. 

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5 hours ago, Seasider too said:

Ok similar boat, though now with fewer people. 

Our solution is to prep components  on the weekend (or whatever one day a week works) and then each person can combine whatever they like to make a bowl or salad. 

So, I try to stock with things like grilled meat (usually chicken), a cooked grain (rice and/or quinoa), black beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, cut fresh veggies, some roasted veggies (Brussels Sprouts, green beans, sweet potato, asparagus), olives, boiled eggs, and dressings like olive oil, salsa, balsamic vinegar. Not all of these things every week, but a variety of things that gives flexibility for whoever can or cannot eat certain things. I also keep smoothie ingredients and protein bars (allergy friendly Enjoy Life which I order in bulk from amazon) on hand for quick breakfasts and lunch. 

On the slower paced weekends, we grill or I make some regular traditional family style meals. 

I feel your pain about the responsibility of it all. I learned the hard way that trying to share the grocery purchasing and “every man for himself” approach just shot my food budget to the moon. With the current approach, I can take into account allergies and preferences in the variety of meal building components I keep on hand. And to be honest, my please-people-through-food side has diminished to a very low level. There is no organic pistachio ice cream here. 

This is kind of what we’ve got going now for lunch but sitting down to dinner is a priority. I cannot handle the chaos of everyone constructing their own dinners at the same time. Maybe I need to re-evaluate the entire idea of dinner. 

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4 hours ago, Arcadia said:

 

Anyone who is picky cooks their own meals. I told my whiny DS13 that I am not up to cooking for him only to have him complain about the food. We stick to fast and healthy, no way do we bother with making food exciting. 

My DS14 is the most picky in my family. He cooked baked salmon one dinner and steamed salmon another dinner.

What help was having the ingredients for DS14 to cook for himself: salmon, garlic, ginger, spring onions, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, turmeric, miso paste, kelp, seasonal vegetables. 

My kids aren’t picky, but by the fourth night of a variation on Mexican food they’re wishing for something different.  The kids don’t have time to cook their own meals in the sliver of time between sports and homework. (That sounds like a pretty good salmon recipe though!!!)

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4 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

You don't have to be in charge.

I hate cooking.  I do it on nights I have to, but there are more times I don't.  Dh cooks on his days off.  Oldest kid cooks one night a week.  We have leftovers at least one other night.  That makes 2 nights I really have to plan AND cook.  We have a homemade recipe binder with dividers in it to sort by protein.  Most of the recipes include a main dish and a side.  All I do before shopping is grab the pages we want, sort the food in the fridge, and put the pages on a book holder in the kitchen.  Anyone willing can step up and cook the meal.

 

Nobody capable of cooking is home until 7 pm. At that point everyone is tired and hungry and there is still homework.  I have the recipe binder going. I think I need to produce in bulk to up the leftovers. 

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Maybe it's the schedule that need to be reevaluated or changed up?

Edited by ScoutTN
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1 hour ago, Caraway said:

I need to work on this. It’s a struggle to get over the hump where it is easier to do it myself. 

 

Cancel sports while working on intensive family cooking and helping skills?!?!

in meantime 🤗 hugs

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Seriously though, I posted something tending along these lines, got ideas, and ended up stopping sports and outside commitments that made me feel ragged and angry, overwhelmed and not helped.  I’m still not getting as much help as I ‘d like—but it’s much less upsetting when I’m not also trying to drive to special activities.

 

It just made less stress, less tiredness all around.

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If you decide the whole schedule needs to be revamped, you might consider making dinner earlier and eating on the drive? Depends on the drive, I guess. I recently got a Hot Logic. We're out of the house for long drives a lot lately, appointments and activities. I cook early in the day, and pack a whole meal to take with us. The Hot Logic, with a car adapter, keeps the hot stuff hot. It is wonderful to have a hot meal instead of variations on sandwiches over and over, and fabulous to have the kids already fed by the time we get home. Plus, it's already paid for itself because we don't do fast food on those days at all anymore.

I try to make sure food is generally tasty and that there is something everyone likes. But I don't worry about it being exciting or different, I just have too many other things to think about. 

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2 hours ago, Caraway said:

This is kind of what we’ve got going now for lunch but sitting down to dinner is a priority. I cannot handle the chaos of everyone constructing their own dinners at the same time. Maybe I need to re-evaluate the entire idea of dinner. 

I think that if you want sitting down to dinner a priority, then you have to make dinner *time* a priority.  Dinner takes time.  Even “fast” dinners, they still take some time.  And if you want the sit down part to be important, that setting aside the time is going to have to become a priority, which does mean schedule revamping.  Are the sports activities more important than having the time for a sit down family dinner?

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2 hours ago, Caraway said:

This is kind of what we’ve got going now for lunch but sitting down to dinner is a priority. I cannot handle the chaos of everyone constructing their own dinners at the same time. Maybe I need to re-evaluate the entire idea of dinner. 

 

Something.

you can’t be in two places at once

energy has limits

time has limits

 

you probably need to choose : dinner? Or sports?  

Or maybe some different option... if homeschooling allows mornings to start later, maybe you can have dinner at 8:30 pm, with time to at least put together the premade  meals.  

Then Go to bed late and get up late.

 

Edited by Pen
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Have you tried anything to break out of the rut?

Shopping at some new places? Buying some new ingredients? Cooking with new techniques or new tools?

I love to cook. Making healthful and delicious and ideally economical meals for my family gives me great pleasure. But to keep my mojo working requires that I feel creative and to avoid getting in a rut. No one likes drudgery.

Bill

Edited by Spy Car
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I have a special diet, and our schedule often prevents everyone from eating together, so I cook meat and occasional full meals to freeze or refrigerate for leftovers; everyone can reheat as needed.  Usually, we'll pair frozen meats with freshly cooked or raw veggies, although frozen cooked veggies do reheat nicely.  At least once a month, we all go to the grocery store together; everyone picks out what they most want to eat, and, if possible, buys it in bulk.  Since purposely getting them directly involved in the shopping, they've been a lot more willing to help with the cooking/food prep and clean-up, and they've been a lot more grateful when I do cook a family meal everyone can eat.   

Edited by klmama

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5 hours ago, Caraway said:

So I do this (except freezer meals because our freezer is beyond tiny). If I buy components everyone eats what they want, leaving no stuff for dinner. Plus I still have to think of and cook the dinner at 7 pm. Plus if I want anyone else to help it has to be way more specific. I agree about building in margin, just not sure how. 

I write on packages that I have reserved for supper 'Do not eat.'

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Cooking for teens, especially boys, is the proverbial threading the beads onto the string with no knot at the end.  Endless.  I loved the "Zits" cartoon that said something like "Cook your teen a snack and he'll eat for a day.  Teach your teen to cook his own snack and your kitchen will be a wreck forever."  

Two words to save money and sanity: complex carbohydrates.  My boys snacked on enormous bowls of brown rice, sri racha and peanut butter, extreme amounts of corn tortillas, canned refried beans, and cheese, and yogurt/muesli by the case.  If you can have something like these for them to make for themselves all the time, they can eat before the activities and you can get some respite to plan and cook the real meals like others have suggested above.  Agree with always having foolish amounts of eggs on hand, it helps to have your own chickens!  

Your rage is real, but they will grow up.  Go with bulk, easy, and healthy.  They will never look back and say gee we wish our meals had been more exciting when we were teens, I guarantee. 

Edited by Harpymom
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10 hours ago, Caraway said:

 

Nobody capable of cooking is home until 7 pm. At that point everyone is tired and hungry and there is still homework.  I have the recipe binder going. I think I need to produce in bulk to up the leftovers. 

I like the suggestion to make lunch the more major meal.  If it's still important to you to sit down together as a family at 7:00, maybe try a "picnic" supper you have prepared ahead - you could even use "lunch boxes" for each person to make it faster and less chaotic.  Sandwiches, chips, raw veggies, fruit, a treat and a drink.  Make them at lunch time and set them aside until evening.  Everyone grabs their lunch box and eats together at 7:00 before they start on homework.  Fwiw, we have sports heavy evenings, but we don't try to eat dinner together.  Several are going in different directions at different times and our commute is 45 minutes.  

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If the kids are also Whole 30, obviously disregard my suggestions above.  Maybe an alternative simple array always in the fridge: large numbers of roasted chicken thighs plus lots of roasted sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil and salt; jars and jars of peanut butter and roasted sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, and celery, and coconut-almond granola with coconut and almond milk.

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(((Hugs)))

I accept most of the responsibility because I’ the one in the best position to do so. I also accept that I don’t have to *like it! But it does mean I get to make the rules, and that might mean the kids being in charge of themselves some nights, the kids being in charge of everyone some nights, and dh picking up whatever I tell him to some nights (or grilling on demand.) The planning still falls on me, but the execution doesn’t have to.

Every few weeks, I stock up on extras so I can take a break from planning if I feel like it.  I know it’s harder with evening activities because we’ve BTDT in the past, but the mindset helps (ime.)

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