For me, one of the hardest parts of being a parent is the cooking. Day in and day out, I have to constantly and consistently serve meals and snacks to the kids. It seems like my kids are also at the age where they are having growth spurts and they are asking for snacks more frequently than they used to. It feels like I always have a kid saying they're hungry right after I just fed them!
What then, would be the problem? I am trying to eliminate processed foods from our diet. That means no quick-fix meals like cheesy pastas and rices, open-a-can-and-heat soups, chips and cheese puffs, frozen snacks like chicken nuggets and taquitos. In other words, almost everything I make and serve is from scratch. I like the way we eat and I believe we are healthier for it, but it does leave me drained of ideas and I find myself in the kitchen more often. I can only make PB&J's so many times before they go on strike!
Another issue is the hours my husband has for work. Some days he works in the mornings, which I prefer, and he is home at night for dinner. The days he works evenings I find the hardest, because I make a late, large lunch, since he'll be missing dinner with us, and then I have to think of something to make for a light dinner with the kids later on. They aren't big meat eaters and my Middle is the picky eater of the bunch, and Youngest will watch her and then follow suit even if it is her favorite. argh!
I try and solve the snack problem by making large batches of certain things-- oatmeal cookies with dried apples or raisins, tortilla chips, and popcorn, to name a few. I also try to keep fresh fruit and vegetables available, but I am amazed at how quickly they get eaten up and they very rarely last more than a few days and then I am caught without until the next shopping trip. On a tight budget and a once-a-week grocery trip, buying more or going more often is not an option.
We came up with some extra money last week and I promptly planned a trip to the warehouse store. We purposely went during lunch time and we noshed on all the yummy food samples they offered. We left with nice full tummies and a cart full of stuff. I can easily spend $500 there in one shot, but we can't do that anymore, and I have to be choosy and stingy and get only what we absolutely need. "Honey, we need a 5 gallon bottle of olive oil, don't we? We just have to have that 8 pound jar of maraschino cherries! Look it! A big box of cotton balls, we gotta get that!" No, our shopping trip was more like: "Toilet paper- $11.99; eggs- $3.49; ham-$8.99; that's about $25 so far, $75 to go...oh wait, more like $70, can't forget the tax!"
We have our weekly shopping trip tomorrow, and I am planning to get a few extra items to make our own version of trail mix. If it's a hit, and I think it will be, I hope it will be enough to keep their tummies filled between meals. What do you give your kids for snacks? I could use some fresh ideas.