The Dinner Files – #7 Lucy from Learnermama

Today we’re talking to Lucy from Learnermama.com about her family’s diners. Lucy is a mum of three who’s always on the go and as well as her Learnermama blog she runs a fanstastic website on c-sections – csectionmums.com

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Tell us about dinner time in your house- what time is it, where do you sit, who is there?

We aim to sit down at 6.40pm each evening which is around the time Daddy comes home from work.  He often comes in the door as the dinner is being placed on the table and we all sit down at the table and eat as a family and catch up on news and events of the day.   It is something we started about 5 years ago and I find it a really lovely time to connect as a family so really make the effort to make sure it happens most days. Of course there are days it doesn’t work out like that; activities, play dates and life gets in the way so we just roll with those days.

At the weekend it is sometimes a little earlier as we are not waiting on Daddy!

How do you get dinner on the table in the evening?

Monday to Friday I do the dinner myself.  Sometimes the kids want to “help” but more often than not I start preparing about 6/6.15pm (depending on what’s cooking) and leave the kids that 30-40mins of chill out time. 

At the weekend my husband Niall often gets involved.  He actually loves cooking so it works out well that I get a break at the weekend and he gets a chance to get stuck in.  Sunday in particular is a day we really try to make a nice meal and Niall loves to plan that out, sometimes involving a full three courses.

Do you meal plan or do you decide on the day what’s for dinner?

I try to meal plan on a Friday.  I’m trying to get into the habit of doing it before I go and do my “big shop” but often it is a case of coming home from the shopping and seeing what I bought and working out the dinners from my bag of shopping like some weird episode of ready steady cook!

Sometimes it fails miserably and I end up in my local shop picking up stuff for a meal during the week and others I manage to put together seven meals taking me through to the next big shop.

What dishes regularly appear on your dinner table?

I’m a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to meals.  Spaghetti bolognaise is an absolute.  Roast chicken used to be but I think we all got so sick of it we decided to give it a break and I started some new dishes such as a meatball and bean casserole from Paul Flynn’s family food cookbook.

Chicken burgers are fast becoming a new staple too and some form of chicken and pasta dish is always on the menu.

What dish is guaranteed clean plates all around?

Spaghetti bolognaise and Pizza are firm favourites.

Do you tend to cook the same thing a lot or do you try to mix it up? Where do you get inspiration for different dishes?

I tend to stick to the same thing and now and again introduce something new if I can.

What’s your favourite quick dinner solution?

Chicken burgers, fish fingers, wedges, pizza….anything with no preparation and that can be cooked in an oven within 20-30 mins!

What’s your favourite junk-food dinner?

I love a breast of chicken and chips from the chipper.   You just can’t beat chipper chips with loads of vinegar!

If I have to make it myself sticking a pizza in the oven is quick simple and a bit junky!

Do you eat the same as your kids?

Unless we are eating out and someone else is cooking there is only one meal being cooked in my house.   I couldn’t be dealing with multiple meals.  

Are there ingredients or dishes that face complete refusals at your dinner table?

Anything green generally gets refused.  

Are there any adventurous meals everyone at your table will eat?

My youngest is the most adventurous and will generally eat everything.  She loves prawns, cous cous, mushrooms, the lot.  There is very little she won’t eat (except green stuff!)

Unfortunately, there are no adventurous meals that everyone will eat. There will always be someone complaining about something if I put something vaguely adventurous on the table.

What is your own, all time favourite dinner?

I love a really simple fillet steak with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans served with a little bit of jus.  

We don’t’ cook it that often, if we do it is generally a special occasion and not one for the kids so it is the one time I’ll do them something else. Probably some fish fingers!

Have you any tips to share on getting the family fed?

Keep it simple.  Accept that there are things that they don’t like now and don’t force them.  When they are older their tastes and pallet will change.

Who’s washing up?

The dishwasher!

Amen to that Lucy. I think it’s really nice that you eat as a family every evening, I’d love to do that more often, but with our schedules it just isn’t possible. I don’t know what it is with greens and kids either, is there something that programmes them to refuse by colour! Great advice in keeping it simple too, there’s no point everyone getting upset by being forced to eat something they don’t want.

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