Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm June Fucking Cleaver

I finally bit the proverbial bullet this past week and implemented a dinner menu plan for our family. A big part of me begrudges it all because I just hate to be cast into a mould that way; set on a schedule, where the desire to eat a particular-something tonight is ignored and replaced with the obligational meal written under "Saturday" hanging on the fridge. (which happens to be my delicious mac & cheese tonight however...)



It makes me feel like June Fucking Cleaver and that makes me puke in my mouth a little. I still try to fight being crammed into a traditional stereotype. Let me kick and scream a bit, would ya? Or at least throw the f-bomb around. I tend to get bitter after a short time of squishing my parts into that mould. I just don't fit well.



But, the harsh reality is that I AM a housewife and, with that, comes the role of providing good consistently healthy food to the family.



A few years ago when I started to eat the Wild Rose diet, I began the horrible habit of cooking 3 different dinner meals in order to accommodate everyone in the family.  It seemed easier and less stressful that way. The little Rubes were hungry by 5 pm and, although T.Rube is a fantastic little eater, S.Rube is the opposite. Picky picky picky. And, that's stressful, as anyone with a picky eater knows! It became easier for me to present her with food that I was sure she'd eat rather than worrying about whether she was starving herself or not. What this meant is that the kids were getting crap - a vicious cycle of chicken nuggets, french fries, hot dogs, kraft dinner, noodles, pizza and grilled cheese. Then, after serving up the kids shortly after 5 pm, I would prepare something for myself: something veggie and brown rice or a big salad.  Then, as B.Rube doesn't get home until 7:00 pm on his work days, I would, most nights, enter the kitchen (or, rather.... just stay in the friggin' kitchen because, let's be real here, I hadn't left the kitchen in a long long time already at that point....) for Round Three. Where I would somehow complete some shitty-thrown-together-with-added-protein-variation-of-a-meal for the wage earner when he arrived home.  I say 'most nights' because there are nights where I just can't do it. By the time Round Three reaches in to smack me upside the head, I say fuck it.


There are just so many things that WERE NOT working with this dinner arrangement.
I was worrying all day about what we were all going to eat but not often making decisions until I was standing in front of the cupboards or fridge that evening anyways. At times, it was a definite source of stress that I carried with me through the day.
Nobody was really eating well or very balanced. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was a couple of weeks ago when S.Rube got sick. She was down and out for 9 friggin' days. High fever, absolute exhaustion and zero appetite. It was apparent to me that she really wasn't eating well enough to provide her body with the strength and fight that it needs. She definitely was in need of an intervention.
I was spending about 3-4 hours an evening in the kitchen, through three rounds of dinner prep and dinner clean-up.
It was creating very bad habits for the kids with regards to their food. S.Rube will only eat those few things that she loves and is not open to trying anything new. She prefers to be able to request her meals.....like the Princess that she is. (and the one that I have clearly created!!??)


So....a schedule. I could kill all four of these above-listed birds with one schedule stone. Last Saturday, we created this week's plan. Each of the little Rubes selected one meal. B.Rube selected 2 meals. I selected 2 meals. And we planned for one flexible meal or, in this week's case, Vietnamese noodle take-out.  On Sunday, the girls and I shopped for everything we needed.


I posted the schedule on the fridge and off we ran with it.


And, it worked wonderfully. I friggin' love it. I had no stress or angst about what to have for dinner. Soooo freeing. And then there was the awareness that I was providing well-balanced and healthy meals every night; that S.Rube actually sat down and ate everything that we were eating night after night. And the fact that I was in the kitchen for ONE round: one prep, one clean-up. I had scheduled the meals in such a way that there were leftovers for B.Rube's lunch for work the next day. The kids were in the kitchen all the time asking what was on the dinner menu for that night and excited about their own choices of tacos and homemade mini pizzas.  They had a snack late in the afternoon, close to their regular 5 pm dinner time slot, and I made them wait until 7 pm to eat and we actually ate as a family. Not something that happens very often here.  



Fuck, I guess I'll accept my ill-fated role, be June, and do what I need to do. It actually did make life easier, as much as I hate to admit it, and it felt pretty damn empowering at the same time. Because, let's face it, I'm indispensable.



3 comments:

Martha said...

Oh how I hated sean's so-called "helpful" meal planning and grocery lists...I fought it and cried about it (as you had to witness) but I will (reluctantly) admit that it really makes life easier.

Hiromi said...

I agree... I fought it for a long time too... kind of kicked myself in the butt for not doing it sooner, cuz it really did make stress levels go down! AND it felt great, like you said, to know the kids were eating well + things were organized + you know the DADS couldn't have done it as well as we have!! = very empowering!!!

Mayan_Love_Goddess said...

I wish I had known you struggled with this JRube. My favourite mother's organizer/calendar is More Time Moms and they have a Family Meals book that comes with meal plans, recipes and even grocery lists all ready to go. They are so awesome that they even have smart phone apps (I'm still waiting for their blackberry one) and it's available for the iPad through iTunes. Check out the link:

http://www.moretimemoms.com/more-time-cooks-special-edition-cookbook-p-28.html

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