Would You Like Rice And Pasta With That?

I composed this post last week but got derailed by a couple of unexpected calamities.

What a relief to be back!

Here’s what I meant to post last week:

I read two blog posts this week that inspired me for two completely different reasons.

The first is Eco Cat Lady‘s post on New Year’s resolutions. I laughed out loud at myself as I fulfilled all of her prophecies:

The way I see it, people pretty much always do what they want to do. So whatever dysfunctional things you’re doing must be serving some sort of purpose in your life. And until you uncover what that purpose is, there is just no way that you’re gonna be able to muscle your way into changing your behavior.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with her, you will laugh reading her post: Thoughts On Simplicity.

Then there’s blogger Julien Smith’s post  The Complete Guide To Snapping The @#$% Out Of It. Here, he takes issue not with New Year’s Resolutions but with our insistence on implementing them in the same unsuccessful way year after year. His advice:

Get yourself a goddamn system.

So, I applied a system to meal planning this week but first, I had to forget everything I’d ever learned about nutrition.

I started by making meal plans around what my family actually eats and not around what they should eat. Since two of us eat rice and two of us eat pasta, I decided to make both instead of wracking my brain for a rice based meal to appeal to Squirrel and our youngest or a pasta based meal to appeal to me and our oldest.

I became the much maligned family short order cook! Did I mention I had to forget everything I learned in parenting books too?

Fortunately, it worked! The rice and pasta lured them to the table where I ambushed them with peas (oldest loves, youngest hates) and carrots (oldest dislikes, youngest tolerates). I tossed a protein on the plate (not touching the rest of the food, of course) chicken, hot dogs, beans or eggs and Bam! we’re all at the table eating something every night at six o’clock.

So we’re not eating the delicious, well-balanced, organic vegetarian meals I fantasize about and no one ever eats. We’re also not eating pizza twice a week, peanut butter sandwiches in the car, at McDonald’s, or with someone screaming maniacally: “I don’t care if you don’t like it – just eat it!”

The added bonus is that since I know there is something on the plate everyone likes, I have no qualms about leaving it on the table for the inevitable cry of: “I’m hungry!” after dinner. And that, my friends, saves me more back and forths to the kitchen for yogurt, cheese sticks, and granola bars than you can begin to imagine.

Added bonus: It turns out that this meal can be prepared using very little brain power in the midst of a calamity.

Do you have any calamity proof systems in place?


20 thoughts on “Would You Like Rice And Pasta With That?

  1. Thank you for being such a kindred spirit! Because I do the SAME thing. We don’t do fancy meals with spices over here. It’s a protein, veggie, fruit, and possibly carb at meals. If I want to go all out, I make mac’n’cheese or quesadilla. Our boys hate things spiced or put together. I’ve given in and say oh well. It’s easier this way now 🙂

    • Amen Megyn! I went all out last night and made perogies, but quesadilla and mac and cheese are on the rotation as well. I know one Mom whose children will eat cauliflower soup and another’s whose kids eat kale. It’s a dream I’ve had to give up on.

      • OOo just remembered my easiest/sneaky meal: smoothies. I chuck some tofu in, berries, yogurt, spinach/kale, carrots, etc. It’s SO easy and has all the food groups. Sometimes I’ll just freeze leftover smoothie into popsicles. They never knew what hit them. A treat filled with veggies!

  2. I love it! One of the advantages I see with this, in addition to the ones you’ve stated, is that it allows your family to sit down at the evening meal together…the kids will eventually get used to it and maybe even start to like it! :o) Yay!

    • I got so tired of hearing about what they hate to eat. It’s so much easier to “enjoy” time at the table when I only have to push one or two foods. Plus, the rice and pasta ensure no one turns on their heel within the first 30 seconds. Score!

  3. love it! i tend to have a similar approach. made me laugh out loud….a fav of J’s is endgame (in the shell or without) i find it will be scooped up with pasta and with quinoa…hugs m

  4. What? No manic screaming? What fun is that? :~)

    Seriously, giving in to the reality of things makes life so much easier doesn’t it? After many years agonizing over trying to feed my cats the “perfect” diet, which was nearly impossible since one’s too fat, one’s too skinny, one’s the pickiest eater ever, and one only wants what’s in his brother’s dish… I finally just gave in and simplified the routine. Now they get canned food twice a day, and if they don’t finish it, I put it up on the counter where the fat cat can’t reach it… and I leave the dry food out 24/7. And you know what? Nobody’s starving, the fat one hasn’t gained any more weight, and we’re all WAY less stressed about mealtime.


    p.s. Thanks for the nice mention. I’m glad my ranting amuses you. :~)

  5. Hi Christine:

    It’s nice to see that family dining has become a more relaxed experience for everyone. While my kids are not picky eaters, they seem to think they’re entitled to be food critics. This fall, fed up with complaints, I set out a schedule requiring one of them to cook dinner every Friday. They have some freedom to choose the menu provided it includes three food groups and passes my approval. They’ve done a fabulous job so far, preparing everything from homemade mac and cheese and salad (three food groups have to include vegetables) to Japanese curry. Unbeknownst to them, they are also acquiring some life skills…

    Getting them to do their own laundry is my next goal…

  6. Almost every time I say this I find someone who disagrees with the concept, by your quote from Eco Cat Lady reminds me that there are exactly two base reasons that people do the things that they do. Those two reasons? They can. They want to.

    No one disagrees that people only do things they are capable of doing, but many disagree that they want to do everything they do. The most common argument I hear is that people don’t want to go to work but so up to punch the clock regardless of the desire to play hookie. My initial statement holds up to that argument when I ask would you rather go to work and continue collecting paychecks from your employer than not go to work and find yourself unemployed?

    Everything we do offers some kind of payoff or we wouldn’t bother. Sometimes the payoff is significant (like staying on the company roster), but sometimes it is as small as satisfying our tastebuds and making fewer trips to the kitchen for snacks.

    We all do what we can and what we want to.

    • I do things to reduce my anxiety like endlessly surfing the web for info on health and parenting. I could say I’m doing it because I have to keep informed, but the truth is that I’m self-medicating. Seeing this helps me step away from the computer…

  7. I absolutely agree with you, Kate. We continue to do the things we do because there is some kind of reward or payoff even if we’re not consciously aware what that payoff is. The optimistic part of me believes change is possible when we’re ready to make that change and motivated to do so… I’d be out of business otherwise!!


  8. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I have now finished my bedroom and while I didn’t come up with 100 things, I did get 61. A lot better than I did in the bathroom! Actually they were mostly from my bedroom but a few were random items that I noticed in other areas of the house. So here is what I got: 3 shopping totes, 4 belts, 1 purse, 1 sachet, 8 items from my husband’s closet (he picked them out himself), 10 VHS tapes, 1 pen, 1 dress, 2 sets of coasters, 2 books, 12 broaches, 12 magazines, 1 necklace, 1 ice scraper, 1 hat and 1 cake tin. Obviously the cake tin coasters and ice scraper were not in my bedroom! There were also a few things that went in the recycling and a couple of things that had to go in the garbage. I guess I found it hard to come up with 100 things because I am already a bit of a chucker so I probably don’t have as much stuff around as some people. My next target is going to be my home office and I’m really not looking forward to it at all. It is such a mess. Wish me luck.

    • Woo hoo! Good for you. My bedroom was a gold mine of magazines, ill-fitting clothing and out of style costume jewelry. I cannot believe how much I’d collected over the years. Good luck with your office. I think I had 100 appliance and toy manuals stashed away in mine. With so many manuals available online, none of them were relevant anymore.
      P.S. kudos to your husband for being on board 🙂

  9. There is so much wisdom in that quote from Eco Cat Lady. Makes me wonder about so many things in my own life, but particularly my issues around food – I have no idea why, but I have (as long as I can remember) had a fear of being hungry that I have carried around with me every day. This fear has, of course, led to overeating. Then I read something recently where the author stated, “hunger comes and goes.” So simple, right? I’ve been telling myself this now for the past couple of weeks, and it has really helped keep me from eating between meals. So in the theme of simplicity, I am not making any crazy resolutions this year, but simply to eat more whole foods and avoid overeating.

    The only calamity proof systems I have in place around meal time is that I occasionally make dinner mid-afternoon (or as early as I can when I get home with the kids). Then I can relax while dinner is cooking in the oven, and lounge I on the couch with the kids for a bit. Or if all else fails, I make pizza (we do eat pizza a couple of times a week, but it is usually from Whole Foods, so like homemade and yum). And I have a great smoothie recipe if you need it – even my super-pickie three year old drinks it and it has SPINACH in it!

    • Erin, there is so much wisdom in that quote, isn’t there? I think your resolutions are great because they are enjoyable and doable. I’ve read a lot on the topic of eating issues as they rum rampant through my family (myself included) and you seem to be on really solid ground there. Love that you make dinner mid afternoon and will adopt that into my calamity proof repertoire. Thanks! I would love that smoothie recipe. I’ll send you an e-mail so you can reply to me with the recipe. Cheers!

  10. Pingback: When I Move to Whistler, I Will… « 100 things 100 days

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