Last night I had a dream.
It was a dream of delicious meals – plates piled high with bright yellow sweetcorn, white cauliflower, deep green broccoli and varying shades of cabbage. There were bowls of carrots and luscious courgettes. Nameless leafy but healthy looking greenery abounded.
There were roasts, there were ribs. There were chops and there were breasts. Juicy stews and cottage pies, lasagna and . . .
I woke up hungry.
Also, I woke up with two thoughts in my head.
1. I’m dieting again. I’ll be dreaming of food for weeks.
2. I need to cook more healthy family meals for my children.
Yes, it’s a big cause of concern for me. Every day we parents are subjected to a barrage of articles, news features and TV programmes reminding us that obesity is rife. Last week there was a show discussing the horrors of the hidden sugars in cereal, prompting a wave of panic across parenting sites as we admitted to feeding our children these nasty foods for breakfast.
It’s back to school tomorrow and Sackgirl has asked if she can have packed lunches this term. Packed lunches are my pet hate. I have no idea what to put in a lunchbox other than sandwiches, crisps and yoghurt.
Evening meals are another cause of mothering guilt for me. I know how to cook. The problem is that I don’t know what to cook.
Spaghetti bolognaise? No problem. Sausage and mash? Easy. After that, I begin to lose inspiration. Everything seems to come with chips (frozen) or mash. What else is fast, simple and appealing to children?
Sackgirl is a massive fan of chicken nuggets. As a toddler it was all I could get in her. So, I went with what worked – some food being better that no food. As she has got bigger she discovered tuna pasta and jacket potatoes. A creature of habit, she likes what she likes.
Botboy likes cereal.
That’s it. Cereal. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, if he can get away with it. (Remember the previously mentioned hidden sugars. Sigh!)
I admit that (here comes more guilt) as a working mum, sometimes it’s easier to go with what works than end up in another hour long battle to force a vegetable into unwilling mouths. So I have given in to frozen foods, pizzas, quick and easy solutions.
I should add here that I don’t believe the average small child is prepared to eat a variety of food. Yes, there are smug mums out there who tell you their toddler loves garlic mushrooms with olives and houmous on rye. But the rest of us know that kids don’t like the texture of roast pork or the chewiness of a steak. They like bolognaise, they like fishfingers. In the last few months I have persuaded Botboy to try baked beans and finish a sandwich with the filling still in it. These are real accomplishments.
Well – that’s the story till now. But then a miracle happened.
We went away this weekend. On the four hour drive home the children were hungry. Stuck as we were in the middle of Wales following winding roads through the Snowdonia National Park, there was a distinct lack of those golden arches.
Fabulous for me – I’m not a fan. Devastating for the kids and Mr G. Finally, kids screeching in our ears, we made the call to stop at the next pub we saw. As it turned out, the next put we saw was having issues with their new cook and therefore offered a limited menu.
We had no choice, it could be miles till the next source of food. The bellyaching of the kids was beyond bearable. We went in.
Probably it was the fresh air from 3 days of camping. Possible the near starvation mode the kids were in had kick started their survival instinct. Likely they could tell by my expression that I was not prepared to listen to another meter of moaning.
Botboy agreed to the pea soup – swayed by the bread and butter it came with. Sackgirl insisted she was desperate for the fish (Unbattered! Without chips!)
You know what – they ate it!
So – I had a dream. In it I dreamed of delicious and healthy meals that my kids should be eating. I want to educate them about healthy food now, to stop the crash diets later. I want to be a good, guilt free mother who cooks amazing and tasty food that doesn’t involve chips, pizza or cereal.
I think they are ready to take that step!
Now I need your help! I need inspiration. I need recommendations.
I need recipes for quick and easy, no faffing, 30 minute family meals. Ideas for lunch box fillers that are a step beyond a ham sandwich.
What do your kids eat?
Share with me you favourite family recipes and I will start testing them out on my guinea pigs. Who knows, together we could be creating the solution to picky eaters everywhere!