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A Week in Our House: A Family Dinner Journal

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by Lynn

kid1Because our weeks are so jam-packed, Sunday has become a serious planning day. I don’t love having to think through the entire week, but I’ve found that if we can take an hour or two and think ahead, the week manages to go much better for all of us. If we manage to get organized early enough, we can even get a bit of relaxation in!

So, my husband John and I get together, and think through our schedule. Which nights are we going to be home? When might one of us be working late? And what activities do our two boys have going on in the coming week? Then we look in the fridge to see what needs to be used up, and what might be in danger of going bad.

We’ve also started giving each of our boys the responsibility of planning one meal. This started out of desperation on my part: I was tired of planning and couldn’t for the life of me think of something new. But it’s worked out well and become a habit, which is great. The boys are especially willing to try new things if they’ve picked them out, and it’s given us some variety in our meals because they’ve each gravitated towards different foods. (Click here to see Tano talk about his recipe, and here to watch Luca explain his!)

Once the menus are picked out, we make our shopping list and figure out what we’ll be getting at the grocery store, and what we’ll be getting at our local farm. The grocery store is mostly for staples at this point, as I tend to get our meat, fruit and veggies from the farm.

kids3Here’s a look at a recent week of meals in our house:

Sunday: We’ve got a little extra time tonight, and the boys requested some fresh rolls I made last week. And it’s snowing…so we wanted cozy food. John’s going to grill some steak for us, I’ve got the rolls rising as we speak, and we’ll sauté some zucchini for something different (too many salads lately). The boys will make the rolls, John’ll take care of the steak and I’m on zucchini duty.

Monday: John will be working late, so it’ll be just me and the boys. This is the night that we’re making Luca’s choice: pasta with chickpeas and tomatoes. Should be ready in under 30 minutes, which is good, because the boys have gymnastics until 6:30 and Tano usually has a fair amount of homework. We’ll have a simple Boston lettuce salad along with the pasta. If we have time in the afternoon, Luca and I will get the pasta prep ready, clean the lettuce, and roast some nuts or sauté some shallots to go over the salad.

Tuesday: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my mom picks up our boys after school and gives them dinner. This has been our routine for years, and we’re incredibly lucky to have her so close by. The boys LOVE their time at their Oma’s house, and it gives John and me a chance to either work late or work out. This Tuesday, John’s probably going to have to work late; I’ll pick up the boys after work and we’ll spend some time at our dojo (our whole family practices karate and kickboxing). I’m assuming that there will be some leftover pasta or other good leftovers, and because I’ll be eating alone that’s quick and easy.

Wednesday: On Wednesdays, we have to be at the dojo until 7:15 for varsity demo team. When he’s able, John comes home around 6:30 and gets dinner going, but just in case, we always choose something that we can get on the table quickly. This week we’re going to make Indian spiced chicken and spinach over rice: a quick, tried and true recipe we all enjoy. The boys are always wiped out on Wednesday nights so we don’t force them to help out – but they often end up in the kitchen with us anyway.

Thursday: The boys are with my mom, and John is able to come home for dinner. Dinner will likely be something on the grill (fish if one of us can make it to our local fishmonger; probably lamb or pork chops if not) with an arugula salad.

Friday: This is Tano’s dinner. We were talking about risotto the other night, and although the boys have had it, it’s been a while and they can’t really remember what it’s like. So Tano was interested enough to find a recipe in one of our favorite cookbooks – this one’s with spinach and goat cheese, both of which he loves. Because the boys will be at gymnastics until late (7:30 or 8), John and I have time to make a more labor-intensive dinner.

I’m usually better about dessert, or baking something (cookies, zucchini bread, brownies) for the boys to have in their lunches, but it’s been a busy weekend. Unless I get a burst of energy, that’ll probably have to happen later!