This six week, Get Real Series, was inspired by Adrie (of the blog, Field and Fire) and I realizing that each of us wondered how the other "did it all". Of course, the reality is we don't. There are seven us that will be sharing the realities of how we handle a certain aspect of living over each of the six weeks on Tuesdays.
This week it is Dinner.
Our family's journey toward eating more whole foods - meaning foods as close to the source as possible and foods made from scratch - continues to this day. What started first as growing our own small garden nearly 20 years ago has developed into preserving and keeping some of that food we grow and at various times even having a farm stand and having enough excess to share with friends and neighbors. What we can't grow ourselves, we buy at our local organic farms or local natural food store (which is actually a 30 minute drive). Finally the remainder of our food is purchased at a small grocery store and our in-town general store.
Committing to feeding our family meals made from scratch and providing healthy choices means that a lot of my day is spent in the kitchen, not to mention feeding a large family.
I have simplified things somewhat just because of all of the other responsibilities I have (you know, like having 7 children). Breakfast 5 out of 7 days is oatmeal (with raisins for me) and cold cereal for those that don't like oatmeal. The other days are sometimes eggs with maybe bacon and toast and another day may be pancakes with maple syrup.
After breakfast, I do my baking for the day. With our oldest off to college, I generally make 2 loaves of bread every other day now and then some kind of muffin/quick bread and a sweet on the same day I bake the bread so that it can all go in the oven together.
Lunch varies but often it is grilled cheese (maybe grilled cheese with egg) on homemade bread with pickles that I canned. Other days peanut butter or sunflower butter with jelly sandwiches and organic corn chips with salsa. Sometimes "bread pizzas". Sometimes soup with toast. When the garden is producing I nearly always add a vegetable - carrots, greens or potatoes.
Dinner is usually something more involved. I strive to have a weekly menu, but this doesn't always happen. However, our meals tend to be based on the season. Right now we are having our last beef stew and cream soups. I just made a yummy lentil carrot soup the other night. As our chickens are now giving us 8 - 10 eggs each day I will be adding quiche, and some kind of egg meal at least twice per week to our dinner menu. I also give myself a break when I need it and will make something simple, such as organic ground beef from our local farm and two bags of frozen sweet potato fries with some organic greens from our natural food store.
We don't get fast food for dinner more than maybe once a month and that is usually Chinese Food.
We haven't been out for a sit-down dinner at a restaurant since Mike and I went away over night almost two years ago for our anniversary.
As far as preparing dinner, I have the luxury that because we have a home based business, my husband generally is around to help with the children from 3:00 - 5:00 so that I can do any wood burning for the business, packaging, answer customer questions and work on dinner. Sometimes I will even start chopping vegetables when I have a moment or two anytime after lunch. When Mike isn't around I am now blessed to have older children to help with Emmy but if all else fails, I have will put her in the Ergo to finish up any meal preparation.
When our children were all younger (there was a time when I had a newborn, 2, 4, and 6 year olds) I did make more simple meals and I am sure I relied on a video or two during the meal preparation time. (The 2, 4, and 6 year old were boys and our house was very lively!) I was happy if I got noodles boiled and sauce heated on some evenings.
Oh, I also forgot to mention my right hand kitchen helper, Sarah. She loves to chop vegetables! If she is around, she nearly always volunteers.
Our children are very fussy, especially the older ones as I didn't cook the same way that I do now when they were small. I don't fight it. But for the younger ones, I give them a small amount of each of the meal's offerings and am often happy to find that they will eat it. Last night Abraham, Sarah, and Abby joined Mike and I and had a bit of salmon, for example. (This was a rare treat for us as it is expensive but oh so good!)
One thing I love about life is the excitement of learning new things and putting them into practice. When I need some inspiration I may spend some time reading Nourishing Traditions or the Encyclopedia of Country Living. I am also currently taking Heather's course, Whole Foods Kitchen and working on adding new ideas to our meals and learning more about nutrition.
Finally, once the meal is complete, our family joins together almost every night of the week to have dinner. Abby sets the table and Sarah lights the candle and we hold hands to say grace. Even though some may finish within 5 minutes, I am thankful for that brief time where we come together as a family.
Looking forward to reading what the other amazing women shared today and if you would like, please share what mealtimes are like at your home ~