Another way I refer to "dinner time" at my house is "adventure time." The crowd that I get to feed consists of a five year old, a tween, and a teenager - which in itself is an adventure! But it doesn't stop there. All five people that gather around my table have very different food likes and dislikes, as well as different dietary requirements. Two people eating an anti-inflammatory diet; one person who isn’t a picky eater but absolutely dislikes any seafood, onions and mushrooms; one person who prefers to eat vegan; and another who doesn't like onions and coconut...
With less than 2 hours after work to come up with a meal that is nourishing and tastes good to everyone, shop for it, and serve it before a hangry meltdown ensues - you can see how dinner time becomes an adventure! In the grand scheme of things, it’s an amazing blessing to have this nightly challenge of preparing dinner. However in the moments that I forget to put on my big thinking cap (which can happen frequently at the end of the day), it can become a major stress factor.
If you experience similar stresses, I pulled together a few simple steps that I have taken to reduce the challenge of finding common ground at the dinner table:
- Always include a simple salad and have it done first. Advantage: when my 5 year old comes running in the kitchen and says, "When is dinner ready I am hungry!!" I can respond, "The salad is done, so if you are hungry before dinner you can snack on the salad." *Note: this answer works on grown ups too :)
- Develop a list of 4-5 meals that everyone is ok with eating and rotate them throughout the weekdays (write them down and post to your fridge!)
- Take some time during the weekend to experiment with new meals with the goal to expand the "common ground menu list."
- Remember that dinner might not always be perfect for everyone, but a good-enough compromise and a chance to sit together and connect with each other is what matters the most!
Here is my own "common ground" list, currently posted to my fridge:
- Goat cheese quesadilla with guacamole, and salsa made out of canned peeled and deseeded tomatoes, and a big salad - just romaine and a super simple dressing (avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and garlic blended together).
- Japanese sweet potato rounds, sauteed spinach, poached eggs and a big green salad with my simple dressing.
- Chicken soup (made the night before in the crock pot) with a big green salad.
- Curry made with goat milk and vegetables served with cauliflower rice and big green salad.
- Big bulky salad served with anything on top (olives, eggs, Japanese sweet potatoes, pasture raised chicken, avocados, jicama, bamboo shoots, etc.) with my simple dressing.
I hope some of these tips help you! If you have any of your own, please share! :)