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What time would you do dinner (in this situation) and what to serve?

(11 Posts)
BertieBotts Tue 16-Jul-19 21:35:34

Two adults, one working FT, one at home. Two DC, both almost 11yo and 1yo.

We seem to have got into a ridiculous situation whereby everyone eats at different times and we are cooking 4 different dinners most nights, which isn't sustainable, and also mostly crap/convenience foods.

On top of that DH has been told on medical advice that he must eat less meat and fatty carbs, and more vegetables.

Currently this is what everyone does:

Baby - wakes up from afternoon nap around 3, but needs dinner around 4-5pm to go to bed for 6 which is when he tends to be tired. From 5-6 one of us has to occupy him, bath him, etc. I tend to do "lunchy stuff" for tea for him and he has his main meal at lunch time.

DS1 - Gets home from school at either 2pm or 4pm depending on day (we are not in the UK, shorter school day). Has school dinner but doesn't eat much of it. Does not want to eat dinner immediately but is usually ravenous for snacks. We have a casual rule that he is allowed to go to friends' houses or hang out on a whim as long as he is home by 6pm for dinner. If he is eating there, he can stay longer. So tends to eat between 5-6.30 depending on whether he's here and when I get around to making food. On school nights, needs to have shower at 7pm and be in bed for 8pm as he has to get up early. At weekends shower is at 8, bed at 9.

DH - Gets home between 4 and 5.30 depending on how busy he's been at work. Tends to eat big lunches at work so not very hungry, though may change this in response to medical advice.

Me - Take baby to bed at 6pm. He has a pattern of waking up after about 30 minutes and then going back down so I tend to have a little nap. If I'm really tired I'll sleep until 9 or so. If I'm less tired I'll come out of the bedroom by 7/7.30.

So for DH and I to eat we will either separately make our own stuff at some point between 7-9pm, which is a habit from baby being much littler when we used to eat in shifts, or one of us will make dinner for both of us.

How can we do it?? DH reckons if I just make "the kind of food that everyone can help themselves when they want" it will work out fine but I'm not convinced there's enough variations on this theme to work for every single weeknight? So it might make more sense to have two "sittings" either a split of 2:2 or 3:1 eating at the same time. 2:2 being kids/adults, 3:1 being either the baby eating alone earlier (though with slight issue of what time to eat to allow me to participate) or DH eating alone later.

Anyway if I can get this to work it (in my head anyway) means nice family dinners rather than everyone retreating away to various screens, which is the other bugbear of current arrangement.

Please tell me what you do! Any ideas of suitable meal ideas would be handy as well.

Sunshineonleith12 Tue 16-Jul-19 21:42:00

My head hurts from trying to make this work!! Yeah maybe aim for at least 2 people eating together at the same time so at least your DS isn't eating alone in front of a screen. As your youngest gets older perhaps it will be easier.

YellowAndPinks Tue 16-Jul-19 21:44:34

Feed the baby when he needs it and everyone else eats at half six.

hopeishere Tue 16-Jul-19 21:52:28

Can you cut out your nap? And everyone eat about 6.45?

MrsMump Tue 16-Jul-19 21:53:47

Gradually push babies bedtime to 6:30 over next few weeks. He could still have a picnic tea with a portion of dinner saved for his lunch the next day
Dinner at 6pm.
Husband tries smaller lunch.
Ds home for 6pm only light snack allowed.

Or keep baby the same, dinner for everyone else at 7pm after baby settled. DH and DS helping cook dinner while you settle baby or they settle baby while you cook. Although this would mean you couldn't nap. Or could you nap at 3pm with baby instead?

Letthemysterybe Tue 16-Jul-19 21:59:43

I think your 11 year old eating alone isn’t great. I would try to improve the babies sleep time so that the rest of you can sit down together between 6:30 and 7:00. Either quick stuff that your dh can rustle up after work eg stir fries, fajitas, pasta or stuff that can be made earlier and then reheated or popped in the oven eg curry, chilli, macaroni cheese.

RB68 Tue 16-Jul-19 22:06:10

Get a slow cooker

veg stew, veg curries or assorted types, broth or soups, baked potoatoes

Alot also depends on where you are - so if hot country salads in the fridge to help selves to.

It sounds like you need light suppers that are quick and easy to cook - can yu also get DS to learn to cook some things like an omlette and salad (already prepared) or other things like fish

But I would also try to rejig the evening arrangements at least on a weekend so you get time to sit at a table together

BertieBotts Wed 17-Jul-19 07:52:12

Climate isn't that different from UK - just less wet. Thanks for ideas. Yes I think 7pm could work, I don't need to nap, it's just because he tended to breastfeed on one side, fall asleep, wake after ~20 minutes and have the other side and then stay down. And even if I do TBH it's only that interim period unless I'm totally exhausted. It would be difficult to have lots of cooking noises and conversation happening in the kitchen, as the layout of our flat means the noise carries directly into our bedroom, possibly baby's room as well (have not checked). He doesn't need silence to sleep but if he hears his favourite people and suspects they are having fun without him, that won't work too well.

The only thing is I have this mental block about DS1 eating so late which is probably related to when he was a toddler and used to get into a too tired to eat/too hungry to sleep horribleness. But he does seem to need the hour to shower and get ready for bed. He can't go to bed any later either because he needs to get up so early for school (needs to leave the house at 7am) and he struggles when he's not had enough sleep. But we can trial some of these over the summer.

We do have a slow cooker and that always works well smile I'm not sure that omelette and salad would be quite filling enough.

BertieBotts Wed 17-Jul-19 07:53:04

Forgot to add DS1 enjoys cooking and can make some simple things without assistance, would need assistance to cook for 3-4 though.

notatwork Wed 17-Jul-19 07:57:48

DS1 now old enough to snack after school and eat dinner with the rest of you at 7.
Could you do after school snack and toddler tea at the same time? Then only 2 sittings.

DeathMetalMum Wed 17-Jul-19 08:00:26

All eat together 6.30 ish either keep baby awake or give them early dinner from leftovers from previous night whenever suits. Whoever isn't dealing with the baby (weather keeping them entertained or bath and bed) cooks dinner.

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