To me, time is like money; I want to get the most our of what I spend. Time was especially important when we were both teaching and we had two pre-school aged children. I would have loved to spend all my time cooking wonderful meals and reading stories or playing with my children, but that was impossible.
The solution: weekly menu planning, remembering to take the meat out of the freezer before school in the morning, and everyone helping with meal preparation and dishes. My husband was not able to help as much because of school associated projects and sports.
Meal prep was a great way to teach my children a lot of things, like accuracy when we measured, attention to detail when we set theMeal prep UK table, and taking turns when one was the taster and the other got to call Dad to the table. Besides, I found out everything that went on at the daycare and everything that was on their minds as they stirred.
Our dining table was far away from the television, and so it was easy to avoid that distraction when it was time to eat. According to a CBS News survey (January 12, 2010), 33% of families watch TV, text, e-mail or use the cell phone when they eat. This is a little easier to regulate with smaller children, and in this situation a family rule would be appropriate.
Sometimes we did have to change the mealtime to fit Dad’s coaching and referreeing schedule. If he had to go out of town, it was time for a kids recipe or two-we ate a lot of mac ‘n’ cheese and goulash during these times! And Kurt got to be Dad and sit at the head of the table. I always felt it was important to keep a regular schedule as much as we could.
After dinner and dishes, it was “Kurt’s Time” and “Jill’s Time” for providing plenty of quality attention before it was Mom”s and Dad’s time to correct papers. Each one got a half hour to do the activity of his or her choice. Kurt usually wanted to ride bicycles, hike or do some other activity outside. We found a rattlesnake on one of his excursions. Jill always wanted to read, and do art, which she eventually applied to “artistic” cooking like adding chocolate chips to our lettuce salads and everything else on the menu.
We had a garden, and grew a lot of our food to freeze or can. Kurt claimed the biggest pumpkin in town which he grew in our garden. We pulled weeds together, and the kids were thrilled to watch the vegetables grew. They helped put jars of water around the lettuce and carrots, so the rabbits would not eat the tops. They had to watch as Dad put moth balls out so the deer would not jump the fence and eat the sweet corn. We had several advantages of living in a small town in the Midwest, where we could grow a garden with our children.
When the children were younger, we had to hide the broccoli we grew until half-way through the meal, or that’s all they wanted to eat. We made a lot of jellies and jams, and I still make Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, a favorite.