Above is a picture of a truly delicious pasta recipe, cooked entirely in one-pot. Your first attempt at this one-pot spaghetti will require following the directions closely. But after making it once and seeing how the magic of one-pot pasta works, you’ll be able to make it again and again with barely a glance at the recipe.
Below is a picture of the same pasta on my dinner table. Yes, there are gorgeous tomatoes with mozzarella, but…notice the apples and peanut butter with honey at one place setting? And the random bowl of canned chickpeas? That’s what dinner looks like in real life.
I love one-pot spaghetti with tomatoes and kale (or spinach) but one of my kids does not.
It took me 2 minutes to slice an apple and scoop out peanut butter for her plate. Also, she like chickpeas so I put a leftover bowl of them near her.
Although she ate a different meal than the rest of us, we were all happy.
Isn’t that the point of family dinner?
As a food lover and professional recipe developer, it pains me when my kids won’t eat what I cook. But over the years I’ve finally come around to the simple mantra that fed it best.
You’ve probably heard this mantra in reference to breast feeding vs bottle feeding. But it really does apply for the entire span of childhood.
I no longer worry about whether or not they have a perfect balance of vegetables and protein. I don’t worry if they eat Top Ramen three days in a row. Over the span of weeks and months, their nutritional needs are being met. They are never going hungry. And that’s enough. Fed is best.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t get annoyed when they reject a beautiful homemade dinner that I spent hours cooking. It’s annoying!
It’s taken a long time, but my kids are now trained to politely say, “thank you for making dinner, but it’s not really my thing” instead of just complaining about the food. This has gone a long ways towards easing my annoyance. Which has made me realize that my anger was more about not feeling appreciated than it was about the actual food.
A few more tips:
I don’t cook entirely separate meals for my kids, but I do make an effort to always have something on the table that I know they’ll eat. It’s a preemptive move that minimizes whining & complaints and fills tummies. In our family, this is usually bread of some sort or buttered noodles (I love this essay and recipe on Smitten Kitchen, Buttered Noodles for Frances)
There’s such an emphasis on getting kids to eat vegetables, but remember! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with serving fruit at dinner instead of vegetables. Sometimes I make a fruit salad, but usually it’s just sliced watermelon or grapes or apples.
My kids know that toast is always an option if they don’t like what’s being served. They’re both old enough to make it themselves, which helps.
Some kids (especially little ones) are hungrier in the morning or afternoon. Their best meal of the day might be breakfast, lunch or a big after school snack. There’s so much emphasis on family dinners, but it really doesn’t have to be the most important meal of the day. Your kids, like mine, might just want sliced apples.
Dinner Last Week
Speaking of dinner, I’m always curious about what other families are eating. Aren’t you? Here’s what my crew ate last week.
Monday: Arroz con Pollo with black beans on the side. To be honest, this meal was mediocre. I added too much chicken and the rice was mushy. Even recipe developers like myself have off nights!
Tuesday: Weeknight tofu, broccoli, Trader Joe’s egg rolls
Wednesday: Grilled salmon, corn on the cob, sliced cucumbers, garlic bread. The next day my 11 year old combined the cold salmon, shaved corn and cucumbers into a salad for her lunch box. She wants you all to know that she highly recommends it!
Thursday: I just couldn’t deal with dinner. The kids had Trader Joe’s frozen mac n’ cheese and my husband and I threw together a salad, followed by popcorn two hours later.
Friday: Pizza night, to celebrate the end of our first week back to school!
I’d love to hear about one meal that your family ate last week, whether it was something new or a go-to weekly recipe.
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A few cookbook suggestions if you’re looking for new family dinner recipes:
Please note that book titles in this section are Bookshop.org affiliate links. Your cost for purchasing the book is the same, but a small portion of your purchase will come back to me and help support my work. When ordering from Bookshop.org you’ll also be supporting independent bookstores.
Also, public libraries are a free great resource for trying out new cookbooks!
Everyday is Saturday: Strategies for Easy Cooking Every Day of the Week
That’s it! Hope you’re having a good week.
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Sounds perfect for the first week of school !
I wanted to say my husband fixed a regular hamburger w gravy, fresh green beans with roasted potatoes and it was really good. I intend to give him your pasta recipe to fix for us next it looks delicious. Thanks for sharing 👍