How many of you have ever waited tables before? I did it for about four and a half years during college, so here’s a quick rundown of the process:
The hungry patrons sit down for a meal. After giving them a list of all the options they have, it takes between five and ten minutes for them to decide what they want. Once the decision is made, someone in the kitchen has to prepare the food before it gets delivered. Sometimes everything comes out exactly as ordered. Other times something is too hot or too cold. Maybe it has tomatoes, which the patron doesn’t like. So the entree gets sent back and remade. During the meal, the people eating think of twelve other things they would like you to bring to the table: napkins, another drink, clean silverware, dessert. After the meal your guests may or may not thank you for your time, then they leave. One server might have five or six tables just like this at one time.
That’s pretty much how every meal works when you have kids. Except the kids don’t leave.
With the futility of keeping up with orders, the laundry list of foods you’re not supposed to feed your little one, picky palates and the time it takes to actually prepare the meal, it is really nothing more than semi-organized chaos. But these six feeding tips can help turn an overwhelming dinner fiasco into, well, just a regular dinner fiasco. Let’s face it: mealtime always ends with a few tears and a grape stuck somewhere grapes shouldn’t be.
- Premixed PB & J: I don’t know about you, but I harbor an irrational hatred of spreading peanut butter and jelly on bread. I either get the counter all sticky or I tear the bread as I’m swiping on the peanut butter. And it seems like I never get the ratio of PB to J right. Try this: Put a scoop of each into a bowl, stir them together, and slather them on your sandwich. The mixture goes on more easily, and kids get a kick out of watching the process.
- Breakfast Rolls (or Lunch or Dinner Rolls): One pack of crescent rolls, eight slices of bacon, and four slices of cheese are all you need for this quick and delicious breakfast hack. Cook your bacon while the oven is preheating. Unroll your crescent rolls and place a half slice of cheese on each. Top with a slice of bacon folded in half, roll them up, and pop in the oven for fifteen minutes. Breakfast for the whole family! You can also try for dinner with hot dogs or pepperoni.
- Frozen Yogurt Pouches: So I haven’t actually tried this one, but I saw my sister do it last weekend. Stick those on-the-go yogurt pouches or tubes in the freezer for an hour, then cut the top and serve for an alternative to traditional ice cream.
- Pizzadillas: Yep, you read that right. Use either a ten- or six-inch flour tortilla, cover one half of it with shredded cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni, then fold in half. You can heat these on a panini maker, in a toaster over or in a skillet on the stove top. You could even pop them in the microwave in a pinch to melt the cheese. Homemade pizza without making a homemade crust!
- Pizza Cutter = Everything Cutter: Pizza cutters cut more than just pizza. You can use these handy little tools for the above mentioned pizzadillas, traditional quesadillas, sandwiches, or pancakes. It’s safer, faster and easier than a knife.
- Frozen Batches: Who has time to prepare made-from-scratch pancakes or fry bacon for breakfast every morning? Nobody. Who has time to do it on Saturday morning? Most of us. Take a few minutes when you’re making the family breakfast on the weekend to throw in an extra batch of whatever you’re cooking. You can individually wrap sausage or hamburger patties or put pancakes, waffles, or french toast in a one-gallon zipper bag, then put them in the freezer. Now you have a week’s worth of breakfast ready to pop in the microwave.
Unless you have the resources to order in every night or hire a butler, you’re going to have your fair share of dinner disasters. If these few tips can prevent even one mealtime mishap from occurring, then I’ve done the world a service. Stay hungry.
Have your own meal hacks you want to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share them in a future post.