I don't go in much for New Year's resolutions, but this is one of a few times each year when I recalibrate: recommitment to routines and ideas that have proved successful, an openness to new approaches, the desire and will to shake things up a bit.
When it comes to food and my family, I want to keep it simple. Some of my goals for the next few months:
- Plan lunches. Menu planning has worked well for our dinners; I'm going to try to sketch out lunches so I'm not scrounging for scraps so frequently. If you haven't tried meal planning, or think of it as a control-freak approach to eating, check out this post on simplifying meal planning by making it basic, balanced, and brainless.
- Push vegetables to the center of the plate. I usually plan a protein entree and then choose the vegetables. It's time for a role reversal: Veggies first, then protein.
- Let the kids help with meals. Aside from pizza night, I don't invite the kids to help much. I love baking with them, but I'm too impatient at dinner time. Yet they're usually eager to be involved with even simple tasks, like getting the rice cooker started, dumping food in a pot, or stirring something on the stove. They're happy to pitch in, and I should be happy for the help. The long-term payoff, I suspect, may be huge.
- Be a more thoughtful gardener. I'm no natural green thumb, but I've crammed our tiny yard with useful plants. The accidental successes have been gratifying, and I'm sure a little more attention to weeding, cultivating, and harvesting will yield even greater rewards for our table. I let too much go to waste.
- Give myself a break. Specifically, utilize convenience food more often. Blasphemy, perhaps, on a cooking blog, but I mean it. I wear myself out (and wear down the patience of my family) planning, procuring, and preparing from-scratch meals most nights. I am not Martha Stewart, and even Martha only does what she does with a cohort of minions. On the rare occasions when I pull out a bag of frozen peas, I have a repeating epiphany: This is easy! My kids love this! This is good for us! We eat well enough, usually, that I can and should embrace some shortcuts. Definitely need more frozen peas. And taco shells.