Sunday, February 26, 2012

Food - Part 1

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen.  It's kinda depressing at times, that so much of my time is spent preparing food, serving it, sitting at the table, and cleaning it up...just to start all over again an hour later.  Some days, it seems like we squeeze the rest of life in between meals and snacks.  I guess that's just the season we're in right now.

For about two months, I was (mostly) able to eliminate morning snacks, because I thought the kids were beyond needing it.  However, about two weeks ago, after hearing cries of hunger for about an hour ever morning, we reverted to our former pattern.  Sigh...I had just begun to feel that I wasn't quite a prisoner in my kitchen when, suddenly, we were back to doing morning (as well as the usual afternoon) snack.

I plan all meals and snacks on a monthly basis and we're pretty good at sticking to what I've planned.  This has been a huge help to me because otherwise I'm stuck at least five times/day thinking about what to feed the kids!

One day last week, I wrote down what the kids ate throughout the day and how much time we spent sitting at the table...just to see if I'm right that we spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The consumption noted here is pretty typical:

8:00-8:45am: Breakfast
* Whole wheat French Toast with cream cheese, jam and syrup.  1-2 large pieces per kid.
* Milk to drink.
* One apple per kid (Lizzie didn't quite finish hers).
Note:  if eggs had been on the menu for this day, Lizzie would have consumed 3-4, in addition to whatever else she ate.  She loves eggs, in any form!  Sometimes she likes to pretend, in the morning, that she has a menu plan:  She pulls out a paper, scribbles some gobbly-goop on it, magnetizes it to the fridge, and then pretends to read it; every single time, she tells me that the menu plan says we need to eat eggs for breakfast...and often sausage to go along with the eggs (sausage being her next favourite food)!

10:00-10:40am: Morning Snack 
* Oranges (6 oranges for 3 kids).  I sat at the table with knife and cutting board, and kept peeling and cutting oranges until I got tired of it and told them they'd had enough!  Of note, we went through an entire large box of oranges in just over 3 days last week.
* Roasted, spiced chick peas: 1-2 handfuls for each kid.
* Dried Mango: 5-6 strips each (they'd have eaten more if I'd let them!).
* A small bowl of popcorn for each kid.
* Water to drink.

12:30 - 1:20pm: Lunch
* Whole wheat pasta with a cheesy milk-and-flour sauce; bits of sausage and grape tomatoes cut up into the pasta.  Each kid ate a hearty bowl full, and Lizzie and Seth each ate another half bowl.
* Cucumbers and mini carrots: they each ate 2 carrots, and between the three of them, they consumed a whole, long English cucumber.
* Smoothies to drink:  3 frozen bananas; 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds; 1 cup pomegranate juice; 2 cups frozen blueberries; 1 - 1.5 cups vanilla yogurt; enough water to make it smooth.  Each kid drank 2 glasses (1+ cup per glass) of this...with straws!

3:00-3:45pm: Snack
* Homemade, fresh cinnamon/sugar pretzels (each kid ate one large one - the size of an adult hand...including fingers)
* Bananas: 1 per child.
* A piece of chocolate from their Valentine's Day 'collection.'
* Milk to drink.

5:45-6:30pm: Dinner
* Slow cooker Chicken Cassoulet (with chicken, tomatoes, onions, celery, tons of kidney and black beans, etc).  Each kid ate about 1.5 bowls full.
* 1-2 pieces of bread per child.
* Caesar salad - both younger kids ate as much as I would give them (2-3 cups); Matthew ate about 1/2 cup.
* Milk to drink.
* Cut-up fruit for dessert (for the five of us, I included: lots of grapes, 3 oranges, 2 bananas, 2 apples, 2 kiwi).  This was demolished.
* 1 container of yogurt per kid.
* 2 cookies.

Maybe this is normal, I  really don't know.  I'd love to hear whether you think this is normal.  Maybe I'm just still adjusting to having two more kids around the who spent the first 5 and 3 years of their lives with virtually nothing to eat.  But whatever it is, we spend a lot of time sitting around the kitchen table! (When I added up the number of hours we spent around the table that day, it totalled 4 hours!)  Though, to be honest, part of the reason we spend a lot of time in the kitchen is because all three of my kids are slow eaters.  Matthew has always been extremely slow in consuming his food, and I knew we received the perfect Ethiopian-born kids for our family when, at our very first meal together in Ethiopia, I couldn't help but notice that the two younger kids ate extremely slowly as well!  I guess they're all three a match made in heaven!

So if you come to visit us, chances are that you'll find me in the kitchen, either preparing food, serving it, or cleaning it up.  In fact, given how much time we spend there, your odds of arriving just in time to join us at the table for something to eat are pretty good!  You would be welcome!


  1. boy can I relate - between breakfast for my gang, snack, lunch, snack for daycare and family and dinner for the family, I am constantly in the kitchen too...
    but yeah. That is a lot of food. you have got some serious eaters. Judging by the pics you post of the running and crazy antics going on at your place they need it to replenish that endless supply of energy. :)

  2. Hey Ruth,
    My goodness....that all sounds delicious!(and now I am That sounds like alot of food, but good food..!I would love to know how you make your roasted spicy chickpeas and your cinnamon sugar pretzels. You have some lucky kiddos who have a mom who cares so much about their nutrition.

  3. We still have 3 meals and 2 snacks everyday and can't imagine getting through a week without my plan (a week at a time!). It is lots of work, but I am so lucky that the boys will try anything and are really good eaters - it's nice not to have to factor that in as well. In fact, I am confident they would love th pretzels you mentioned... any chance you'd share the recipe?? A

  4. Thanks for the comments! Tracey, I just need to add that not every meal is as healthy as these ones. Though this is the norm, there are definitely aberrations - just today, after running a few errands and feeling too tired to face another clean-up post-lunch, I scrapped the menu plan lunch I'd planned for , and we picked up burgers from a local burger joint and mixed together chocolate milk at home to go with the burgers! My planned quesadillas (tomato/chicken/cheese) would surely have been healthier! Lizzie didn't even end up liking the burger - "bleh" was her opinion!


  5. Heidi blogging at Stationery ScoopFebruary 27, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Meal planning is definitely my LEAST favourite thing, apart from a root canal or immunizations! I'm terrible at planning, tending more towards whipping things up using what's on hand. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't!

    You asked about quantities? That's a lot of food. And a lot of variety. I want to come eat at your house!

    For us, the kids are now at the age where they get their own breakfast and pack their school lunches with only minimal guidance from me on the sidelines.

    Breakfast is simple - cereal and milk or toast and jam. For snacks, they'll grab an apple or a few crackers. I'm a fan of the KISS principle, can you tell? (and I'm the "S" if you wondered!)

  6. Heidi, I just have to echo your sentiment about meal planning. I absolutely HATE it...which is why the one-month plan really works for me! I spend 1.5-2 dreaded hours doing the thing, shop once for everything non-perishable (for the month) and then just have to do quick grocery stops once/week for dairy and produce. The result really is's just those 1.5 - 2 hours that just about do me in every month.

    My kids are always so apparently hungry that I just can't seem to whip things up any more...I'd literally be thinking about the next meal/snack all day long.
    But I'm glad that it works for you! And a little envious.

    Thanks for the comment. :)


  7. WOW-a--That's a lot of food!!! Mind you, our almost 1 1/2 year old keeps up the groceries in our house as well--a couple of times he's eaten more than me!!!
    Your plans (even though you don't enjoy doing them)look fantastic, and I'm going to write some of them down. I really only plan suppers, so this is actually a good idea, I can tell my son is getting bored of the usual!-HA!

  8. Wow. That does seem like a lot of food. And that you are in the kitchen all day long cooking and serving and cleaning up. Are you serving more food in a day than you did before the younger two joined the family? Is Matthew used to two snacks a day? It does seem like a healthy menu. Way to go!