Let me be honest with you, dear reader. I’m good at a lot of things as a dad, I do laundry, I clean the house, I make sure we don’t run out of food essentials, either for us or for our little furry pal Kiwi the cat, and I always make time to play games, help with homework and generally be involved with my kids.
And then there’s food prep.
There are some mitigating circumstances, but generally speaking, it’s incredibly hard to figure out what I can cook up that all four of us will want to eat. If it’s something nutritious, organic and vegetable-based, my oldest A- will be happy, but my 14yo son will just wait until we’re done and make himself a cheese quesadilla. If it’s something cloyingly mundane like hot dogs and tater tots, my 10yo is delighted and actually eats, but after seventeen years of parenting, I’m so, so over “kid food”.
Dinner’s just a challenge, though, and it’s gotten to where my goal is simply to ensure everyone’s eaten something healthy at some point in the evening. If it’s not all at the same time, if it’s not the same dish, and if we don’t sit down and share a meal, well, at least we’re all in the house at the same time, right?
Still, meals are an important social experience and a chance for everyone to put down their $#@%$@ devices and talk with each other, so I am determined to at least make the effort, even if I can’t quite figure out a dish that all three of the children will simultaneously find worth eating. Me? Truth be told, I’ll eat just about anything…
When Schwan’s offered to send me a few samples from their catalog of easily-prepared frozen foods, I thought I’d give it a whirl. I left the catalog on the family room table and asked each kid to go through and circle what looked good, but I could only ever get my 10yo to actually do it, and she ended up circling more desserts than meals (what a surprise!) In the end, we ordered pepper bacon, chicken pot pies, stuffed chicken and orange chicken skillet meal.
Last night we cooked up the Orange Chicken Skillet Meal and it was an absolute home run!
Last night not only did we all sit down at the same time, and not only did all of the kids sample and decide it tasted delicious — even my oldest! — but we actually had a chance to go around and each share one thing we were grateful for before we started eating. My son won the award for most amusing: “I’m grateful for UPS, for delivering my new Adidas sneakers!”
Why yes, he did get new basketball high-tops yesterday, as it happened.
It was a very pleasant evening and made me feel like maybe, just occasionally, I can do that meal thing right too.
I’ve included some pics of the meal prep in this article. It’s really quite easy with everything you need in the bag and a cooking approach that, admittedly, might not be quite as healthy as making everything from scratch, but was fast, easy and maybe 15min freezer to table. And quite tasty too.
If you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of creating healthy meals, of breaking from the kid food rut of spaghetti, mac and cheese, hot dogs, burritos and pizza, well, Schwan’s sure has a lot of options in their mouth-watering catalog. And it’s fun for kids to go through and highlight all the foods they think look good, sometimes foods that you’d never dream that they’d actually like.
We’re looking forward to trying some of the other foods they sent us, and I’ll report on those too!
Disclaimer: Schwan’s sent us the four food items without charge and it was quite convenient to have them just show up on the doorstep, ready to toss in my freezer until ready to cook. Sending us tasty food? A total win.