The Many Challenges of Cooking for Your Family
It can be challenging to feed a family.
Before I had kids, I knew that being a mom wasn’t going to be easy. There would be sleepless nights, there would be potty training, there would be temper tantrums, and there would be plenty of other difficulties along the way. But what I didn’t necessarily expect was that feeding children is quite possibly the single biggest struggle of parenting (ok, that might be a stretch, but stay with me!).
Think about it, from the second that kid pops out of your womb, it is your responsibility to make sure it gets the nourishment it needs. Your first obligation is to make the choice whether your baby will be breastfed or bottle fed. And goodness me, you better make the “right” choice, or you will be the recipient of lots judgement and shaming from all the know-it-alls loud mouths “baby feeding experts” out there. Little do you realize when you have and infant, but you have just begun a lifetime feeding dilemmas.
By the time you are a little bit more of a “seasoned” mom, you have a whole new set of challenges to contend with. Like:
- “What the hell am I going to make for dinner tonight?”
- “I forgot to go to the grocery store, so we’ll just hit the drive thru…again.”
- “We spent a billion dollars on groceries last month, does that sound excessive to you?”
- “Susie has developed a pretty selective palette. She’s currently surviving on goldfish crackers and bananas.”
- “What did you say Billy? You want a snack? We just finished dinner five minutes ago when you refused to eat a single thing.”
Sound familiar? Please tell me it’s not just me!!
Some of the biggest challenges that I face when trying to feed my family are:
- Never knowing what to make for dinner.
- Not planning ahead.
- Spending a fortune on food!
- Dealing with picky eaters.
- Snacking and School Lunches
What do you say we tackle these problems together, one by one?
Dilemma #1: What should I make for dinner?
Truth be told, I actually like to cook.
Or at least I used to. Before it was a daily obligation. Before I birthed three rambunctious, overly opinionated food critics that also depend on me for every other aspect of their care.
It used to be fun to try out a new recipe, and peacefully prepare it while enjoying a glass of wine. Gone are those days. My current dinner prep routine involves me running around the kitchen, frantically rummaging through the cabinets/fridge/freezer trying to figure out what to make, with a whiny toddler chasing after me. Finally, I decide it will be frozen pizza (again), but before I can throw it in the oven, I have to referee an argument between my son and daughter over who gets to choose the first YouTube video to watch before dinner. Occasionally, there is still wine. 😉
If this situation sounds all too familiar to you, then check out these posts with lots of easy family dinner ideas and recipes! You can also click here to download my free e-book, “___________”
- What Should I Make for Dinner? 10 Simple Ideas for this Daily Dilemma
- 5 Easy Weeknight Dinners You Can Make in One Pot
- What to Cook for Dinner When you Don’t Feel Like Cooking
- 12 Family Meal Ideas on the Table in 30 Minutes or Less
- 6 Easy Chicken Recipes You Wish You’d Known Sooner
Dilemma #2: I Suck at Planning Ahead.
It never fails. I look up at the clock and it’s 4:00pm. The older kids have just gotten home from school, ravenously hungry, and I haven’t even thought about what to have for dinner.
Planning ahead is not a strength of mine, and I know it makes my life unnecessarily chaotic sometimes. I’m working on it.
One thing that I am really trying to stick to lately is meal planning. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know what you’re thinking. You’re not organized enough to follow a meal plan. Just trust me, it doesn’t have to be difficult, and putting in just a few minutes to plan out your meals can help you eat healthier, reduce your stress, and save you time and money.
If I can do it, so can you! Just read some of my posts below and then download my Meal Planning Template to get started!
- What is Meal Planning? The Basics and How to Get Started
- Free Printable Meal Planning Template
- 26 Meal Planning Ideas and Recipes
- Pantry Cooking: What It Is and How It Will Save You Hundreds on Your Groceries
- Family Meal Planning on a Budget
Dilemma #3: I OVerspend on Food and Groceries
Aside from your mortgage or rent, food is probably your biggest monthly expense. According to an article by USA Today, it costs between $146 and $289 per week to feed a family of four. Translation: you are probably spending between $600 and $1100 per month to feed your family.
Say what!?! And that is just for a family of four! Imagine what larger families could be spending!
What do YOU spend on groceries each month? Are you even keeping track? Don’t worry, for a long time, I didn’t either. And honestly, sticking to a grocery budget seems like something that an organized, type A person would do, not me. But if you keep it simple, sticking to a budget is something that everybody can and SHOULD be doing.
Here are some posts that can help you save money on groceries and stick to your food budget. If you need help setting up a budget for the rest of your family’s expenses, check out our FINANCES page.
- Grocery Budgeting Basics
- 10 Cheap Meal Ideas That Will Help Help You Stick to Your Grocery Budget
- 12 Ways to Save Money on Your Grocery Budget This Month
- 8 Cheap Dinner Recipes That Will Make You Feel Like You’re Splurging
- How to Reduce your Grocery Spending in 5 Easy Steps
Dilemma #4: How do I deal with Picky eaters?
When I had kids, I vowed that they wouldn’t be picky eaters. However, I also happened to marry one of the world’s pickiest husbands, so I knew it was probably going to be an uphill battle. How was I going to be able to get my kids to eat their vegetables when those vegetables were noticeably absent from Daddy’s plate?
Much to my delight, my first two kids ended up being fairly good eaters. Sure, it could have been luck, but I’d like to believe it was my stellar parenting tactics that kept them eating those fruits and veggies!
I’ll admit it, I got a little cocky. I successfully coaxed my kids into being good eaters, so when I would hear other moms complaining about their picky eaters, I was less than sympathetic. They simply must not be doing something right!
Recently, though, my attitude about the subject has changed. Why you ask? Because my youngest child became a toddler and put me right in my place. She has decided that she will not eat anything unless it is a chicken nugget, banana, or anything in cracker form. And it is about killing me. I needed help, so I did all the research I could, and compiled it into some good posts listed below. I hope they help you too!
- 8 Healthy Recipes for Picky Eaters
- 5 Tips to Get Kids to Eat Healthy
- Even Picky Eaters Will Love These 10 Recipes!
- Dealing with Picky Eaters Without Losing Your Sanity
- 5 Vegetable Recipes for Kids
Dilemma #5: Snacks and School Lunches
On a typical day, I think my kids ask me for a snack approximately 192 times. And while I know (aside from an occasional small snack to get them through to the next meal), most of the time I should simply say “no,” kids have an uncanny way of wearing you down.
Ok, so my kids have convinced me they will physically not survive to the next meal time without eating something. Common sense says that, if I am going to allow them to endulge in a snack, it should at least be a healthy one – cue the carrot sticks! Such a noble thought. But what do I ACTUALLY do? I throw a Little Debbie at them and call it a day. #momfail
My kids probably do deserve a little more effort put forth in the name of healthy eating habits. If you also need help when it comes to your children’s snacking, you might find the following posts helpful:
- 15 Easy Snacks for Kids to Make
- 10 After School Snacks for Kids
- 25 Kids Snacks that are Healthy AND Delicious
Another vain of my existence is packing school lunches (dramatic? maybe a little bit).
For one thing, they are almost never packed ahead of time, leaving me scrambling at the last minute, slapping a piece of bologna between two pieces of bread (that is, if I have been on my game enough for there to actually be bread in the house) and sending them on their way. And if I do step up my game, and send fruits and vegetables in their lunch boxes, how do I know they are even going to eat them?
I don’t know about your kids, but it’s a struggle to get my kids to eat their veggies when I’m standing right over them threatening them with no dessert, let alone when they are left to their own devices and free will.
Here’s where a little planning ahead and creativity can go a long way. So check out the following posts full of kids lunch ideas, and before you know it, you’ll be getting some major mom cred from the other kids and teachers at school. You can even take it a step further and download my Lunchbox Printables for some cute little notes and jokes that you can put in your kid’s lunchbox. Be careful though, because people might actually start thinking you have it together!
- School Lunch Ideas for Busy Moms
- Back to School Lunch Ideas
- Lunch Ideas for Toddlers
There you have it, an overview of my top 5 cooking/feeding dilemmas. I hope you found all this information helpful! Make sure you also check out the other Hot Mess Mom categories (Cleaning, Parenting, Finances, and Looking Good) for lots more helpful information. And hit the “Hot Deals” page for the inside scoop on some of the hottest deals currently on the web (did I mention I am an avid deal seeker?).
And of course follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!