Covid revealed the fact that making food for my family was putting so much pressure on me, and I finally broke. I had to figure out a way to get my family more involved in dinner prep.
This episode was inspired by my post on getting your family to help with dinner more. I think you’ll love that post as well!
Big thanks to our sponsor Family Routines — if you’re wanting to get you family more involved — THAT is the course for you!
Getting Your Family to Help with Food More
In this episode
How to pick what’s for dinner
- Listing the foods you have on hand that you can eat
Me helping them vs them helping me
Practicing Intuitive Eating or intermittent fasting as a mom
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
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[00:00:00.210] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today, on Episode 70, we’re talking about making dinner and yes, we have talked about this before, but did you know that dinner happens every dang night? Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:22.380] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly-headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family, and I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:47.090] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so like everything else, including the microwave that has been on back order for like seven years, I blamed COVID for this, I have to say that there was a period of time, probably two months, that we didn’t go out to eat at all. So we made all of our meals at home and my kids were eating like elephants. I have never seen them eat so much food, but I think it was just that the kitchen was there and they weren’t busy, which is like the worst reason to eat.
[00:01:08.810] – Hilary Erickson
But they did. And just constantly like what’s for dinner? I felt like I was in a constant thing of figure out what’s for dinner, make dinner, clean up dinner, figure out what’s for lunch, whatever. You know what I’m saying? I was just constantly like that. Plus, I was also trying to be like Julia on the Love Boat where I was like coming up with activities that could keep everyone happy. And, oh, I was just tired.
[00:01:30.590] – Hilary Erickson
I felt like I was Julia on the Love Boat and whoever the chef on the Love Boat is, did anyone even watch the love boat? I think I’m so old. Anyway, I was overwhelmed. So we did start getting takeout at a certain point and midsummer I just hit a breaking point. And so I wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve done to help make dinner less stressful for our family. As a note, this obviously isn’t going to work if you have toddlers because they can’t make dinner.
[00:01:54.680] – Hilary Erickson
But I say kids eight and up can really start to make a good effort towards dinner. I have gotten my daughter some America’s test kitchen cookbooks and those really go through every single step, just like they do on the show and in their recipe books showing kids how to do it. And they’re made for kids. Yes, you might have to chop up something every once in a while, but that’s not so hard. Or you could even buy pre-chopped stuff like if you need an onion chopped up, you could just buy at the store.
[00:02:18.350] – Hilary Erickson
It’s not as cheap. I usually would prefer just to chop up my own onion, but I bought pre-chopped onion. Judge me.
[00:02:25.220] – Hilary Erickson
This episode of the Pulling Curls Podcast is sponsored by Family Routines, How to Automate Your Housewife Life. Ever wish life was more like you pictured it would be before you had kids? Being able to spend less time at the mundane tasks and more time teaching kids the fun and valuable life skills you know they need. Family routines teaches families to simplify daily tasks into routines that help them feel more peace and joy.
[00:02:47.390] – Hilary Erickson
Save 15 percent with the coupon code UNTANGLED. You can find it at pullingcurls.com in the menu under courses or in this episode’s show notes.
[00:02:58.210] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so some of the things that I’ve done is I’ve had the kids picking out what’s for dinner. One hundred percent. I used to, like, come up with a list of like five things and they could pick amongst those which they wanted to make on their night. But I was kind of over that. So I have made a list of things that we have ingredients for. And I put that on the fridge and I’ve encouraged kids to tell me if there’s something they want to make.
[00:03:18.970] – Hilary Erickson
I could buy the things at the grocery store ahead of time, but I really want to instill in my kids that dinner doesn’t magically happen. Somebody has to get the ingredients and somebody has to make it. I think they just think food just magically appears in our kitchen a lot of the time. Even though I bring them to the grocery store, I remember feeling kind of like food just happens at my house. And so I wanted my kids to realize that there’s quite a process to making dinner and I wanted them to be part of it.
[00:03:40.820] – Hilary Erickson
So they pick out what’s for dinner. And I do think that list on the fridge of ideas for dinner that you already have stuff for is such a good idea. And a lot of times I… I tend to buy a few things that are just convenience meals. I… like Trader Joe’s or Costco and include those on the list as well, but they are. That’s not what I want my kids making for dinner in general. So I know we do have like Fast Friday where the kids can pick something that’s either on that easy convenience meal or something that’s just quick like Trader Joe’s orange chicken, those types of things, so that they’re not having to make a full meal every time.
[00:04:13.330] – Hilary Erickson
But yeah, OK. Along with this, I was getting really tired of them being my helper at dinner. I wanted to shift the roles, whereas I could… COULD help them if they really needed it. But they were in charge of the meal, which means that they need to get their buns upstairs and start the dinner and they need to stay on top of timing it and all those sorts of things, right? I think timing dinner can be really tricky.
[00:04:36.610] – Hilary Erickson
And so they’re all learning those kinds of things. And before, like, I would have to beg them for each step of the way, like they would cut up sausage or whatever, and then they disappear and I’d have to call them up again to be like, hey, we’re not done. Whereas now I can just be working on my computer and they let me know if they need something, but they are really in charge of making the meal.
[00:04:56.110] – Hilary Erickson
So I think that has really helped me changing that mindset that I’m not in charge of making dinner. They are and I’m willing to help them. But I also, you know, if I’ve already explained something to them a couple of times, like how to boil water for noodles, I really will kind of make fun of them if they ask me for like the 10th time, how do I get water for noodles? You know, I’m like, OK, we’ve talked about this a bunch of times.
[00:05:17.350] – Hilary Erickson
What do you think you do first? And we walk through the steps. I think a lot of times kids are just worried they’re going to, like, make something explode in the kitchen. And it turns out it’s pretty hard to make something explode. And I’m definitely you know, I have an eye on things when the burner gets left on and stuff like that. But I’m not in charge anymore, guys. Not in charge. The other thing we’ve done is that everyone has their separate dinner day.
[00:05:35.710] – Hilary Erickson
So Mondays I’m in charge of dinner, which honestly, I kind of like making it by myself. I had been making it with a kid like for so long that now when I’m in the kitchen, although I do have to set the table and that’s kind of a bummer. But I make dinner now. I try and like up the ante and I try and make something really healthy on my day. Tuesdays is my middle son. He makes dinner, Wednesdays is the daughter.
[00:05:57.130] – Hilary Erickson
She makes dinner, Thursdays is my husband. And then Fridays alternates between the two kids for that quick meal day where they can pick something that’s a little bit more convenient. People are just kind of over it on Friday and I would rather do like a convenience meal from the grocery store versus going out to eat. Not only is it cheaper, but I also think it’s actually more convenient than going out to eat because you still have to, like, figure out what to order drive there versus Trader Joe’s chicken.
[00:06:20.830] – Hilary Erickson
You just pop that baby in the oven, throw the sauce on it, cook your rice. You’re done. Right. So I’m trying to show them that there are convenient ways to eat. They might cost a little bit more, but they are cheaper than going out to eat. So that’s what they do on Fridays. And by having a day assigned to each person, it’s really helped. And then also a day is assigned to each person for clean up.
[00:06:37.510] – Hilary Erickson
So I now have a clean up day. I actually was not cleaning up much before this, but I have to say my kitchen’s cleaner now.
[00:06:43.720] – Hilary Erickson
Is that is that wrong? Somebody is actually doing the jobs anyway. Do you think Julie on the Love Boat was this judge-y? Maybe one of the other issues that I have had is that I try and practice intuitive eating… Eating, which has turned into intermittent fasting because I’m literally just not hungry until about the noon hour. Depends on the day and what I eat the night before. But I felt a pressure to like make my kids breakfast. And then they were like, why aren’t you eating?
[00:07:07.420] – Hilary Erickson
And then I would eat breakfast. And so at this point in time, I’ve really just been like, I will make a meal when I want a meal. But you guys could have a snack before that. Like if they want to have some cold cereal for breakfast and then we have a bigger breakfast at eleven or something. That’s totally fine by me. But I don’t need to be compelled to make them a meal that I don’t want to eat.
[00:07:25.610] – Hilary Erickson
Does that make sense or it be eating? Because I’m trying to just really focus on listening to my body and making better choices for it. And yeah, my kids are old enough to get a convenient snack on their own. There’s tons of fruit in our house and cereal, like I said, yogurt. So it’s really helped to be like, no, I’m my own person and I’m not going to make a meal right now because I’m not interested in eating.
[00:07:46.600] – Hilary Erickson
And that’s OK too. I think I kind of needed to say to myself, like, that’s fine. Like the kids can get their own breakfast. They have hands. So that is what I’m doing to make meal prep easier at our house. I’d love to know what you guys are doing at your house, especially if you have smaller kids, come over to the post over at pulling curls and let us know, because I think we could really help each other out.
[00:08:06.400] – Hilary Erickson
I think it’s really important for kids to understand how to make meals. I mean, we’re definitely doing that all through quarantine. We were trying to make very homemade meals. We made pasta. We made lots of different things. And I think that was awesome. It was a great part of quarantine for our family. But sometimes when you do go all out like that, a lot of the pressure ends up being on the mom and that can break a person.
[00:08:27.850] – Hilary Erickson
So watch your mental health, get your family fed like that’s super important, too. But yeah, help those kids to learn to be capable members of society because heavens knows they’re not living with me forever. Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the snarls in your life. We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review until next time. We hope you have a tangle free day.