The Ridiculous Equation that is Dinner

The problem pops up every evening at 5 p.m.


It happens every night in this house. They get off the bus, gobble down some after-school snacks and usually play a video game or two. Then the house starts to turn on mom.

The inevitable question, by 5 p.m. each night, has reared its ugly head:

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

We can start analyzing this problem by saying first off, “No.” I have no idea how this got to be mom’s problem all alone. Four people and one dog need to eat every day. Most on that list knows what they’ll grab for breakfast on the way out the door. Most also have mom pack their lunch. But, that dreaded hour, when the massive question must be answered … No one seems to know what is for dinner.

In a working mommy’s house, this question is even harder to answer, since there is at least a 50/50 chance I have not thought about the solution any more than the other residents of the house. With day-to-day work duties, household chores and organizing everyone’s schedules, I seem to somehow let that answer slip my mind.

I’ve learned to prepare myself ahead of time.

I generally shop for dinners when I buy groceries. I also prepare myself for failure, and make most of those purchased dinners that require little to no preparation. If it needs to come out of the freezer the night before, let’s just say there is even less of a chance that it will make it to the table stage. I’ll forget. It’s just that plain and simple.

I’m also not home each night. Sometimes there are meetings, or just too much work to do in a day. So, this mom comes equipped with many already prepped dinners.

We’ve tried in the past to map out the entire menu for the week ahead of time. Generally, that seems to result in a lot of, “I don’t feel like eating that tonight.” And that is just the whining from mom and dad.

Couple that with two incredibly picky eaters and the “What’s for dinner?” question gets more and more complicated to answer. My two kids have about five meals they each will eat. And, of course, no, those are not the same five.

They are five meals unique to each child, with minimal overlap.

My son will eat grilled cheese, pizza, burgers (new this year!), chicken nuggets and peanut butter sandwiches. My daughter will eat chicken nuggets, waffles or pancakes, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. Let’s assume, as it is always the case, that they each had one of these big five selections for lunch.

The ever-complicated math equation gets even harder.

As unhappy as I am to report it, I, more often than not, am home of the Diner Mommy, who creates four made-to-order meals to prevent the “I’m-not-eating-this” drama come dinnertime.

With mommy and daddy now working opposite and ever-changing schedules, we also have to add to the problem by not knowing if and when we can all sit down to eat together. So, sometimes, dinner is a grab-and-go or eat-it-while-you-can option.

These aren’t ideal solutions. If I sat down to write my Mommy Handbook, I’d not have included meals on the go, picky eaters or busy work schedules. But, as John Lennon once said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

It isn’t my plan.

In reality, there is no way to plan it. (And, yes, that makes this OCD Queen insane.) But, somehow, no one has died yet of starvation. It’s a miracle, but one way or another, I find an answer to the “What’s For Dinner” dilemma each and every day.


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