People who read this, and know my lovely husband Craig, will know what I mean when I say he’s more relaxed than a sofa. He has a classic Tortoise temperament – solid, salt-of-the-earth and he never sweats the small stuff. Ever. This makes life a combination of delight and frustration for me.
One key frustration used to happen when I asked him what he wanted for dinner…in classic Tortoise fashion anything was fine. Really. Truly. He just didn’t care, as long as there was food on the table. Eventually, I got utterly sick of making the decisions about dinner every day so began making menus for the family.
It’s made my mornings easier: I get up get the correct protein organised and don’t even think about the evening meal until it’s time to prepare it at night. There were some great and expected side-affects, the first being that I no longer shop for things we already have in the pantry and freezer. I always have the ingredients I need because I shop to the menu. I save money. ( I never ever just bought what I needed when I did those extra top-up trips to the supermarket.) I now cook more things that I don’t enjoy cooking but the rest of the family love to eat – so there’s probably more variety in our evening meals.
The unexpected positive side-affect has come via our middle son, the one I call Mr Owl. Mr Owl is the fussiest of our children when it comes to foods, particularly new ones. Yet with the menus well in place, now that it’s a year or so down the track, the fussing has mostly stopped. Why? Well for two reasons. Firstly, he knows what the plan is and he can psyche himself up if he’s going to be faced with something he’s not keen on. (Owls are very readily overwhelmed by new or unexpected events/things/people etc) Being prepared is great for all children, but particularly for Owls who need strong routines to their day in order to feel any degree of emotional security. The other advantage is that he is trying more new foods. He knows that we’ll have home-made hamburgers one night a week ( the day we are latest in the door) and that we’ll have snitzel (his other great favourite) one night a week. On the other nights I can pretty well throw anything on the table and he’ll eat it without fuss and bother. He knows that next week or the next day he’ll have something that he likes so, for him, it’s taken a lot of stress out of trying new flavours or textures.
The menus have also made the transition from town-house to country-house easier on all of us: it’s a familiar pattern for the boys and it has meant one less thing for me to worry about with the move.
In these days of recession and horrendous food prices, for those of us who do most of the planning and organising in the house, menus are well worth the effort anyway but, if you have a highly-sensitive Owl child like we do, I think menus are a great way to help Owls feel secure and to be more adventurous with the foods they eat.
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