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    Meal Plan

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I am working on a family goal near and dear to my heart. Family Dinner. As simple as that sounds, the past year has really challenged us to find time to sit and eat and enjoy a meal in the evening as a family. After the birth of our twins the little rhythm we had established with daughter one was out the window and food, dinner especially, became whatever could be tossed in the oven and shoveled down between bottles, diapers, sleep, loves and the “rinse and repeat” pattern of dual infants.

    As the little ones established an early (6:30 PM or they were toast) bedtime, dinner morphed into whatever could be made between the ritual of bedtime for wee ones and the ritual of bedtime for a toddler. Most nights, I opted on a three-headed-dinner approach: Feed toddler “toddler food” while spooning dinner into the twins. Put babies to bed. Put toddler to bed. Make some kind of adult food and eat on the couch after all children were asleep. Sometime around 8 PM.

    This is not me, nor is it the family time I imagined when my husband and I envisioned having children.

    Fortunately, babies grow. Bed times can be pushed back and moms can restate the importance of sharing a meal at the end of a busy day. For me, it is a chance to reconnect as a whole family. The girls haven’t seen Dad all day, and neither have I. We love to share stories and some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of getting three small girls to bed. And there is always a new dish to try. Something fun to cook and taste. Meals in out house are about more than body nourishment. They can be about comfort, adventure, excitement, remembrance, or even about having found that perfect “something” while wandering at the Farmer’s Market.

    Enter a commitment to dinner time. My husband and I have made a pact. Dinner will be done at 6:00 PM and he’ll be here to enjoy it with us. With this arrangement dinner has become a new cornerstone in my day. An added bonus for someone as hopelessly inept with schedules as I am. Dinner is now a goal and a way for me to focus the late afternoon post-nap-time-lethargy that tends to overtake me. I know I have to get prepping and chopping and cooking once the wee ones wake up, if not before, if we are going to share a timely meal. And a timely meal leads to a timely bed time and more quality time for the grown-ups to share.

    Dinner time has also changed my shopping habits. With a meal goal (and a weekly plan to make it happen) I am also focusing the food brought into our home and seeing less waste as a result. I am also able to take full advantage (most weeks) of the local fresh produce which is a blessing and a gift where we live.

    All of this is my way of introducing myself to you. I am by no means perfect in my Family Dinner goal, but it’s been a great month so far. I’ve seen my little babies be excited to try a variety of new foods and have seen my toddler eat more than microwave chicken for a meal (ah three, where did my little adventurer-eater go?). I’ve broken bread with my husband surrounded by our children and felt the happiness that brings to our home.

    I would like to share some of that with you. Be it lunch, dinner or a snack (or breakfast which belongs in a glorious category of its very own food-wise) I’d like to share some of the magic the food contains and explore some of the ways food connects us together.

    Thank you, and enjoy.