One Dinner.

When I told my husband I was writing a blog, after he looked at me funny, he asked me what my theme would be. I really have no theme, just a lot of random advice. As I thought about it some more, though, I realized the central point here is that all families should be cooking and eating one dinner a night. I cannot tell you how many parents have kids that only eat chicken nuggets and pasta, and cannot understand why because the parents themselves love food. The problem is that these parents are cooking one dinner for their young kids, usually stereotypical “kid food,” and then make (or order, let’s be honest!) another dinner for themselves after the kids go to bed. How can a child learn to love food when he or she doesn’t even see real food? Kids need repeated exposure to food. And to get the real joy of it, they need to see you, the parent, eating it. And share it with you. And throw it at you. And smear it on your walls. And then, if it is a really good day, the kids will eat it.

I fell into the multiple dinner trap myself when my son was a baby. I worked long days as a litigator, and the baby ate dinner with the nanny most nights. Or I would throw together something quickly for him when I got home, then make real dinner for me and my husband later.

But it wasn’t just time pressure driving the decision. To be honest, I also found eating with a baby, and then a toddler, totally stressful, annoying, and not relaxing in the least. But then I had another baby, and when she started eating solid food, I couldn’t stand the thought of doing one dinner of baby food, then one dinner of toddler food, and then a third for me and my husband. So I made a commitment to cook one dinner per night from then on. (I did have to wait for my daughter to be able to eat real people food. Of course, being a second child, I had patience for feeding her baby food for about one week. Then I just threw a bunch of stuff on a high chair tray for a while, and hoped she would eat it.)

So, rule #1 of feeding my kids is: cook one dinner.

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