Summer means a lot of different things to different families — long days, pool time, vacation, insane heat… watermelon! And for blended families, like ours, it also means that my husband’s kids are with us for one whole month! Thankfully they are absolutely the most awesome kids I know and I sincerely love having them stay with us! We all get along so well that I’m already starting to dread the end of the month when they go back home… 🙁 But I have one confession… one slight problem really… I’m almost embarrassed to admit… but how on earth am I supposed to go from feeding 2 and 1/2 to feeding 5!? 1…2…3…4…5!! FIVE hungry, super picky eaters!! It’s just that meal time always frustrates and eludes me. And perhaps you can sympathize — I’ve got one family member doing low-carb, one teenager who only eats pizza-burgers-and mac-n-cheese, one pre-teen who refuses to eat pizza and could live off of chocolate cake, one toddler who refuses to eat anything at all, and me – trying my hardest to eat low(er(ish)) calorie/healthy. (For those of you who deal with all of this AND buy only organic, I sincerely salute you. I’m just trying to keep my head above water as it is, so all organic will have to wait.)
I’m really trying my best to make everyone happy, but as you can imagine that’s impossible to do. Add to that the fact that I pretty much hate to cook, and this becomes a big problem for me. It’s just so hard to find the time, energy and money it takes to make all these meals. But when my picky eaters complain or flat out refuse to eat? — I cannot explain how frustrated it makes me! And between Miles throwing every bite on the floor for the dog and a certain chocolate-loving-girl who’s not hungry for dinner but is begging me for dessert, I want to loose my mind!
So if you, like me, need a little more help in the kitchen than some of the other moms out there – let me share my favorite go to places for ideas, help and support!
- The Crockin’ Girls — These local TX ladies have started quite the phenomenon by posting how-to videos for easy and delicious crock pot recipes on Facebook. The idea was so amazing that they soon had thousands of followers, their own website, and an awesome cookbook for sale. You can go check out their website for ideas, buy their cookbook and/or sign up for their weekly emails. The weekly emails are the best — on Friday they send you your shopping list and on Monday they email you a video ‘how-to’ for some delicious meals for the week! They make at least one or two meals a week exceptionally quick and easy, which I’m sure we all could use!
- Food On the Table — This website is brilliant! You sign up and get to choose which local grocery stores you shop at most. Weekly they email you to let you know what items are on sale at your favorite grocery store and then give you meal ideas based on the sale items! You can even customize your profile to adjust for diet needs such as vegetarian or allergies. You can pick through several recipes and even have the site create a shopping list for you! This website is an absolute favorite when it comes to saving time and money! You can get up to 3 recipes a week for free, but for more they charge you a small fee.
- The Sneaky Chef — With this book I feel like I can finally accomplish the impossible — making picky eaters eat their vegetables! And I cannot tell you how fun it is to have the kids finish a meal that they love and then tell them that I suck veggies in! Their shocked faces are so cute!!
- Time for Dinner — This is a book that my sweet friend, Iris, gave me when she heard about my struggles with meal planning. It really breaks down the basics of how to plan dinner after dinner for your family. It’s virtually a playbook of tricks, inspiration, and plans, with 100 go-to recipes!
- Dinner Swap — This is a brilliant idea from Sherry on our blog – find a great friend (or two) and share the responsibility of dinner with them once a week. Every other week you can go to their house for a stress-free/no clean up dinner! And then every other week you cook twice as much one night to give your friend a break. It’s a genius way to keep the kids entertained and take the pressure off every once in a while!
- Meal Time Inspiration — I’ve wanted to try this idea from Kali since I read it, but I’m more than a little intimidated by it. All you have to do is find 6 or 7 friends who are willing to participate and cook up one huge batch of one (freezer friendly) meal for 6 families. Then you get together one evening a month to share the meals and store in your freezer. It’s a great way to have an easy dinner on those nights when you just can’t fathom cooking! I’m scared of it for two reasons – one I’m not that great of a cook yet, so I am worried that my friends won’t like my meal – and two I don’t have that much room in my freezer! So once I decided to clean out my freezer and find a go-to meal that I’m sure anyone would like, I’ll be hitting up my friends to give this one a try.
- The Chalkboard Pantry — This idea is one of my favorites! Because I’m so bad at meal planning – this chalkboard pantry forces me to plan ahead and gives me something to work off of. It also puts an end to the endless “what’s for dinner” questions from the kids. If I spend time over the weekend shopping and planning, and then write the weekly dinner plan on the chalkboard – every wins! I don’t have to stress each day about what to make and it gives the kids a plan for the week.
These are most of the resources that I use when trying my best to feed this hungry family! What about you? Any suggestions that I should try? I’d love to hear in the comments! Let’s face it, I need all the help I can get!
—–Dallas Moms Blog did not receive anything from any one of the items reviewed — I just wanted to share my honest opinions about each!