Restaurant-Style Dining at Home…the Modern Approach to Family Meals?

I don’t know whether my family’s eating habits are common or not, but I simply cannot imagine that other families don’t struggle with preparing healthy meals that EVERYONE will eat.  The four of us each have our own likes and dislikes, hardly any of which are not shared.  I eat a mostly vegetarian diet and prefer more gourmet tastes, muscle-man-wannabe hubby has a more basic palate and requires a strict diet that combines specific proportions of calories/calories/fat/protein, the 5-year-old is extremly picky disliking mushrooms, any specks of seasoning/herbs or “combined” foods, and the 3-year-old, my food-loving, omnivore will eat (or at least try) most anything (provided he’s not in the mood to be influenced by his picky sister) but finishes within 5 minutes and is off and running sticky hands and face no obstacles for walls, furniture, or floor.  

I realized quite recently that our family meals are evolving to a restaurant-style approach:  much like ordering off of a menu, we have begun preparing different meals for each individual’s taste.  The kids often eat the same meal, but husband and I customize our plate per our own dietary needs and preference.   None of us enjoy a heavy dinner; so, especially during the week, our evening meal is not an elaborate event.  Salads, soup, quick pasta/grains (quinoa, rice, couscous), veggies (or Mexican meals, which we generally all like) are all easy options for us to prepare separate dishes in 30 minutes or less. On the weekends, we find it much easier to eat later than our children who finish so quickly and want nothing to do with our food (generally, something that goes wonderfully with a plummy, deep wine!).

This post is not a confession of our dining imbalance but rather a claim of our attempt at familial accommodation.  I have spent years preparing traditional family meals each evening amidst crying, arguing, and wasted food that remained after the children were sent away….and, no one enjoyed anything.  Dinner was a nightly aggravation.  Eventually, my husband and I decided to choose peace rather than war.  Maybe we are the ones raising the white flag surrendering to the louder, angrier mob; regardless of the reason, our compromise has provided a much happier crowd. 

What solutions or compromises have you implemented at dinner time?

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