I’m getting reallyÂ bored of my family relying on me not to starve and expecting me to make something interesting and tasty to eat EVERY DAY.Â To be fair, they’re not particularly bothered aboutÂ it being nutritious, but I feel a certain duty to include all of those boring things like vegetables, protein and carbs ‘cos I got an ‘A’ in Home Ec. at school and my teacherÂ said I should.
The first trap I haveÂ to avoidÂ is putting everything with mash, either at the side or, to really shake things up,Â on top of the protein; sausage and mash, gammon and mash, fish pie, shepherd’s pie…you get the idea.
If I don’t make a listÂ whenÂ I go to the supermarket (see Mystery Shopper), I’m likely to decide whilst I’m there that we’re stuck in a food rut and I want to do something different; this is a BAD IDEA for two reasons:
1) I try to make recipes up on the spot that involve creme fraiche (‘cos that’s what all the chefs on the telly use) which is not as versatile or tasty as you may think, not even when mixed with tinned tuna, tinned tomatoes and pasta.Â Who’d have thought?
2) I get home and find that surprisingly I don’t have fish sauce, pinto beansÂ and saffron in our store cupboard or fresh mozzarella andÂ courgette flowersÂ just waiting in our fridge to accompany the otherÂ items I’ve bought.Â My children often get ‘Chicken Surprise’ or ‘Fish Surprise’ – the surprise being that I’ve had to substitute half the ingredients for something entirely different, sometimes even the chicken or the fish.Â Cheesy mash, anyone?
I’ve got to plan all the meals around who will be present and at what time; sometimes my eldest does activities or eats at a friend’s house, sometimes my husband gets in later than the children eat and sometimes we just want to eat a takeaway kebab instead when the children are in bed…
IÂ have toÂ disguiseÂ foodÂ our children don’t like andÂ lie to them if necessary to get them to eatÂ things that areÂ good for them.Â ‘Yep, that’s chicken.’Â ‘ButÂ chicken’s white, Mummy.’Â ‘It’s corn-fed.Â Now eat it all up!’Â I also try toÂ shape unappetisingÂ food into faces and other stuffÂ to make it look more appealing, although by the time tea time arrives I’m more likely to have shaped it to look like a bottle of Valium.
I always choose portion sizes carefully; sometimes I do just enough to go round, sometimes I freeze some and sometimes I purposely make just a little bit more than we need so thatÂ I can eatÂ the ‘leftovers’Â as an appetiser before I haveÂ my own later.
Finally, I need to be able to anticipate in advance how tired and grumpy I’m going to be at the time that I’m going to be cooking.Â I often feel full of optimism and goodwill at the time of planning;Â I want to make something new and exciting, I want to put love into my food,Â I want to showÂ my family how much I care through the mealsÂ I cook for them…
…But most of all, after a long hard day when I’m counting down the hours until bedtime, I want to know that there are chips, pizzas and fishfingers in the freezer.Â You know, just in case…