Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why Eating Our Main Meal at Noon Didn't Work For Us

Everyone loved eating a full meal at noon.  I was happy to get the heavy cooking out of the way early in the day, Papa was happy to come home to a hot meal at lunch time, and the boys liked the novelty of it.  We felt full for hours afterwards and didn't need an afternoon snack (or, in the case of the boys, could get by with a snack of fresh fruit or raw vegetables).  So why didn't it work?

Consistently, evening would come and there would be a collective groan at the idea of eating lunch foods.  Papa was tired from working all day and while he had always partnered with me to make lunch prior to our experiment, now he didn't want to.  The boys whined that they didn't want salad.  Because I hate conflict I would cave easily and either cook another full meal or suggest getting take out if I was tired.

We get into such well-worn ruts.  Eating the same thing for lunch everyday (or at least a basic variation of salad/sandwich/soup) seems normal, but eating the same meal each evening doesn't, even if we have variety at the noon meal.  We also get idea in our heads about what constitutes dinner and when it should be eaten.  I suspect that Papa rarely had breakfast for dinner growing up as he loves pancakes for breakfast but would rather they not show up on the table at 6 p.m.

The salads were the biggest issue.  The children that never make a peep when salad is part of their lunch meal ~ because it is part of the routine ~ made a huge fuss in the evening, and that combined with a tired Papa who didn't feel like making the salads (always his job) resulted in far less salad being eaten.  We are big on the nutritional benefits of eating salad daily and I was getting upset at the dearth of salad eating.

(Think I'm kidding about salad, or exaggerating when I say my children eat it regularly?  Twice in the past month T-Guy has requested a salad as his side dish at a restaurant.  Servers don't even know what to do when a child asks for a side salad instead of French fries or white rice.  One brought him a regular side salad from the adult menu and admitted that she had never had a child choose salad.  More astonishingly to her, when presented with the listing of available salad dressings T Guy asked if she could bring him extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.)

I am perhaps the most adaptable when it comes to meals, but I also eat lightest of the four of us when it comes to the "lunch" meal.  I'm happy with some mashed avocado on toast or a piece of burrata drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and capers.  If it is very hot I might choose to make a smoothie or just eat some fresh fruit.  My salad is always simple, just some greens with a light dressing, whereas Papa loads his with greens, tomatoes, avocado (if we have it), cucumber, raisins, nuts, cheese, and even leftover meat if there is some to be found.

So now I have two options.  Go back to how we ate before (which is what we've done for the past week) or make both meals by myself (including the salads) and make sure the evening meal is different every night.  Honestly, that sounds like more work than I want in the kitchen.

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