Thursday, March 5, 2015

How I Simplified Family Dinners {blog series}



INTRODUCTION
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you see a lot of behind the scenes of my business and family life. You mostly see photos of what I am cooking or baking. These photos are not styled or planned out, instead they are actual snapshots of what is happening in my kitchen. Messy kids baking. Fresh bread from the oven. Favorite meals being served. I love to share what is happening in my kitchen and I receive more comments about how I cook, what I cook, and requests for help than anything else on social media.

As part of a BIG project that I am launching later this year (more on that later!), I am researching the obstacles to cooking whole foods, meals from scratch, and reducing processed foods. I have heard from so many fans that want to be able to do this. I started to think about how I learned how to cook. People are often surprised that I rarely use recipes and that I own few cookbooks. The truth is, I learned HOW to cook, which means that I don't need recipes for every dish.

WHO THIS SERIES IS FOR
This series is for you if you are mostly responsible for preparing the food for a family. The recipes are geared to a family of 4, albeit young children, so you may want to increase quantities if you have teenagers. I hope to inspire you to find ease and simplicity in the Big Dinner Question. I will share my tips on how to get young children to eat a variety of healthy foods, how to save money and eat healthier lunches, and how to handle conversations around food and sweets with kids.

HOW I LEARNED TO COOK
How did I learn HOW to cook? I did not attend culinary school. But I did grow up with 2 parents that cooked and baked from scratch. I grew up near Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver where we bought our fresh food weekly. I grew up with a Dad that took me fishing and a Mom that threw amazing dinner parties. I worked in restaurants and had roommates that taught me various ethnic cuisines. I watched Julia Child and read the recipes from some of the first American chefs to publish books. I watched the first Martha Stewart show and read her magazines from the very beginning. I married a cook. I have a family. I started a food business.

So it isn't an easy answer. How people learn to cook can come from many different sources. I did not stand beside my Mom in the kitchen and help her. But she did give me my first cookbook, which I often credit as the spark to my lifelong love of baking. Can you learn how to cook if all of your life you haven't been a natural cook? I believe so. (I also believe the key to people knowing how to cook is to start when they are children. Hint hint about Big Project).


WHAT IS IN THIS SERIES
What this series will offer:

  • Some of my most requested family recipes
  • Tips on menu planning
  • What works for me to make more food from scratch with whole ingredients
  • Why my kids eat healthy
  • How I found ease and simplicity in feeding my family
MY FIRST BIG TIP
When my oldest daughter was 2 years old and I had a newborn baby, my husband worked shift work and I spent most dinner times alone with my children. My oldest daughter was a great eater and my youngest was still being breastfed. But dinner time seemed to be a struggle. I was tired and I needed a healthy meal, but I didn't know how to solve the fussy dinner time. 

The solution fell into place naturally, and looking back, it is one of my best parenting moves I have made to date. Are you ready for my Big Tip?

Dinner is not our biggest meal of the day.

Have I lost you? Well, here is why we shifted to this. I discovered that my children naturally needed more food at breakfast and lunch. And then they were eating small dinners and a bedtime snack. At first I resisted this. I grew up with Dinner being the main meal. So how could this be? We simply shifted when the quantity of food was being served. We still eat around a table for dinner, especially now that we are all usually home for dinner. But this isn't our biggest meal of the day. We focus on breakfast and lunch and then have a light dinner. 

Problems this solved: my husband and I work-out in the morning, so we have a large breakfast. We no longer need to ask/bribe/beg our kids to eat more food at dinner. Lunch is often a healthy dinner-sized portion with lots of protein and vegetables. Fussy toddlers are much easier to deal with at what my Mom calls "fussy hour" (5pm) when we are not disciplining over food. And finally, I never want eating and enjoying food to be a negative experience for my kids. We never make them finish what they don't want to eat. 

What does it look like?

Big Breakfast with protein, grains, dairy, fruit, and milk for kids. Coffee for me!
Big Lunch with protein, grains, veg, and maybe some cheese.
Snacks consist of fruit, yoghurt, homemade granola or baked goods, cheese, veg, smoothies.
Dinner is a light protein, grains, veg, or sometimes simply soup or salad (more like a traditional lunch).

We have 1 daughter at school and 1 at home. My oldest comes home from school with a huge appetite from a big day of activity and learning. My youngest had reflux as an infant and ever since then has always needed small amounts of food more frequently. Going with the flow of how our kids eat and metabolize food is very important. Packed lunches are just like home lunches, and we use a thermos for sending something hot like pasta, chili, or soup. 

I work from home but my lunches are the same as when I commuted to an office. I have always brought leftovers with homemade and whole snacks and water. 

BIG CHANGE IS ACTUALLY A SERIES OF SMALL CHANGES ADDED TOGETHER
I will help you through the small changes that add up to the Big Change of Easy Dinners. Follow this series over the next week, share your ideas and tips (comment here or share on Twitter or Instagram), and for everyone who participates at the end of the series I have a GIVEAWAY for you! Inspiration, fun, and PRIZES! Awesome-sauce!

Thanks for joining me on our family food journey! I hope that you will be inspired with a new recipe, tip, or ideas from others to achieve ease and simplicity with feeding your family.

Check back tomorrow for a great weekend recipe and tips on handling eating out!

~Kimberley


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