Ask Maggie: Advice on Dinner Struggles from a Mom of Three

May 1, 2018

Dear Maggie,

Help! My children have to be at karate from 5:30-7:30pm, which means I have to leave to take them at 5pm. Dinner is the issue. They can't wait until class is over to eat and prepping and serving dinner around 4 or 4:30 is quite the challenge for me. I hate feeding them fast food because it isn't healthy and gets expensive to do this twice a week, but I don't want them going hungry until they get home from class at 8pm.

Dear Meal Time Momma,

Gosh do I FEEL you! I am a mom of mildly serious limitations and I don’t mind admitting it. There have been days where we’ve dashed off to dance -- sans dinner. And I am literally the WORST MUMMA EVER on those days because not only have I managed to simply forgo dinner… I actually didn’t even realize that dinner had been forgone -- until my little was 2 hours into tutu time.

Imagine that momma conversation I had with myself! One of those where you weep ugly tears in your Honda Pilot while you imagine your Tiny Dancer unable to Grand Jeté -- out of pure STARVATION at the hands of her mother. Only to buck yourself up and pat yourself on the back for at least remembering dance day.

We take our wins where we can Mummas!

The great news is that you’re not alone, and by this I mean that not only are we kindred souls, but that possibly -- our lives are very similar. This similarity allows me to take a peek into your life and hope that you can benefit from some of the PERSONAL solutions I’ve put into place after that not-so-nice conversation I had with myself on The Great Dance Trumped Dinner Day of 2016.

Step 1. Admit that life will be a series of scheduled events from here forward. If your kids are in any sort of brain boosting, extra curricular creation, you will be chained to a schedule forevermore. I cannot make this sound any better with any pecks of wording from this keyboard. It is what it is.

Step 2. Buck your traditional way of thinking about dinner. You’re going to need to make mental adjustments and quite possibly “time” adjustments. So...

Step 3. Dinner CAN be at 4 or 4:30 and also it doesn’t have to come from a CAN. And you CAN do it by becoming somewhat of a Princess of Prep!

Just sit with me for a moment and take a bird’s-eye view of (my) children after school. They are FAMISHED little fishes that eat anything they can get their grubtastic little hands on. Actually, now that I think about it, they are those carp fish that we all think are SO fun to feed and then draw back appalled when we do feed them and watch what ensues.

So how about we have dinner ready rather than shovel in the “snacks?” Prepped meals and slow cookers will be your BFFs. There are literally clubs for these types of people. People who have gotten B level famous for their blogs about slow cooker meals. People who probably have two slow cookers! I’m just saying that there are intense resources out there for you on how to ready items like sloppy joes, tacos, pot roasts (my kids literally gag at the mention of this, but maybe it will work for you), tuna noodle casserole, sumptuous soups, veggie stir fry, and chicken ‘n biscuits (YUM-MO!). Feed them meals at 4 or 4:30 that are pretty much READY to GO because you planned ahead my little Princess of Prep! (If you end up starting some slow cooker blog and become B level famous -- I’d like credit for that name!)

By 5:30 they’ve digested and hopefully won’t barf it all up during warm ups. If they do, remember to focus on the wins. You win Mumma -- because you didn’t forget dinner. The end.

Can’t possibly do that? Let’s take it down a notch.

On the Go Food Containers which I pretend are Mumma’s AMAZING Japanese Bento Boxes! Mumma’s Mystery Munchie Meal….Mumma’s Chow Time Tins!

It just sounds fancier. If I can call something a fancy name -- life is just better. It makes my kids more interested and keeps me creative!

Whatever it is that you decide to call your “to gos” they are great for simple cold or hot meals.

Meals on the go are Mary Poppins (who is practically perfect!) approved. Says me, at least.

A WIN in fact. Dinner, remembered.

A yummy sandwich, some cheese, fruit, cold carrots, protein-packed nuts. All are great items that you have at the ready for the car ride once or twice a week. Or repurpose leftovers! Rigatoni noodles leftover? Some fresh parmesan, some olive oil and warm it up to go! Have leftover taco fixings? Taco salad!

The point is, switch up your thinking on how you attack this. Do a wee bit of prep my Princess and you’ll be golden. Winning left and right Mumma! Sitting there in your Honda Pilot thinking -- Gosh -- I am ABSOLUTELY amazing.

Because you ARE Mumma! Even on days like The Great Dance Trumped Dinner Day of 2016. You’re STILL A-MAZING!


p.s. My apologies in advance if your kid barfs at ballet and or martial arts. I was also super serious about the Princess of Prep blog.