2nd May 2014 Helen 7Comment

Bumbles of Rice is running a lovely blog linky (A Week in Dinners) to look at what real families are eating for dinners – and not what makes it to Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

A little like our dinners this week, my contribution is slightly slap-dash but very honest and (hopefully) not too disgusting!  It’s also painfully short of photos so apologies in advance.

Our topsy turvey week has involved the tail end of the Chicken Pox, Daddy having study deadlines and not getting home til after bedtime, and evening time cluster feeds. Spiderman’s return to Montessori has given me three hours in the morning with ‘just’ Yoda and Woodie to entertain, so – knowing I’ll be down to one hand by dinner time, I’ve been using my morning time to sort dinners and make sure things are as ready-to-go as possible.

These days I’m making great efforts to feed us more veggie food and also to eat more fish.  This is a bit of an attempt to shed-the-mummy-ned, budget for an expensive year of not working and also to break away from the monotony of the ‘usual’ dinners that we live on when we’re both working. The change has met with a mixed reaction from the punters who – if they were let, would survive on sausages and cheese.

Now I’m not saying I was directly influenced by Andrea at Office Mum putting here excuses straight out to the front … but, ahem, my extenuating circumstances of the week are:

  – all of the above – particularly the absent hubby at dinner time bit;

  – Yoda is still a bit off her food post the pox so I’m not picking any fights I can’t win;

  – I generally make a frittata for breakfast the next day at the same time as doing dinner, so there’s a happy cross over of ingredients between dinner one day and breakfast the next;

 – as most of my dinners are eaten with the physical constraints of cuddling the sleepy, feeding baby, this gamekeeper has turned poacher and favours hand-friendly food. Also, it’s acceptable to eat food that falls onto the baby. That’s just a rule.

The other rules here are:

– everyone has to try anything new, just a little bite, before they pronounce they don’t like it;

– you’re finished when you’re finished (as judged by wise old me) but there’s no need to clear the plate;

– I don’t make alternative dinners. If dinner isn’t eaten there’s cereal or toast on offer;

– we don’t do weekday desserts.

And on that note, here’s what – and how, we ate this week…


The food: We had the perfect Saturday evening teatime – and one guaranteed to be scoffed – oven baked marinated ribs (prepacked from the butcher), with a salad and some garlic and herb potatoes.

The reality: There are ten ribs in the pack.  The ‘plan’ is two for each toddler and three each for us.  In reality I got two, hubby got one and the rest were ‘acquired’ by the gobblers.  Spidey and Yoda are obsessed with cucumber and tomatoes.  By the time we got to the table, our salad had been stripped. We ate lettuce.  Garlic and herb potatoes were ‘rejected’ out of hand by Spidey. Yoda was on her third mouthful when she was informed how disgusting the toddler-tasting-panel thinks they are.  At this point she stopped eating hers, declaring they are ‘definately disgusting’.

Overall a Toddler success with a typical smattering of peer pressure.  There were minimal adult portions of ribs but what we did get was tasty. We did have copious portions of lettuce though! We seriously missed the glass of red wine though as we were on ‘shakie’ (febrile convulsion) watch.


The food: the perfect ‘takeway’ in the form of very moorish homemade Shepard’s pie delivered by Granny Thumpalump with a side order of carrot and parsnip.

The reality: well received as it was credited to Granda Thumpalump – the God of small things in this house.  Any trace of visible veg had to be fished out but these were happily accepted by the grown ups who regularly thrive on left overs.  Dinner was, according to Yoda, ‘delish’.  You can’t go wrong with a verdict like that.


The food: baked potatoes, pan fried chilli halloumi, coleslaw and salad. Not being a complete idiot, I also cooked fish fingers for the smallies. They won’t eat nuggets or waffles so these are my ‘go to’ lazy freezer food.

The reality: buttery mashed potatoe was manually extracted from the ‘bakers’ leaving delicious potatoe skins for me. Spidey ate the crumb off the fish fingers and announced he was finished. Eventually he ate the fish.  Yoda had no interest in the fish fingers. She did try the halloumi though but wasn’t mad about it.  Spidey made all sorts of noise about it while keeping his distance. The tomatoe and cucumber binge continued. Us parents were happy – though I did catch hubby looking under lettuce mountain for the meat. At that point he discovered the left-over fish fingers.


The food: falafel, houmous, wraps salad and couscous. Before dinner I set aside some plain couscous as I knew how this would go.  To ours I added fresh mint, olive oil, lemon juice, capers and seasoning.  To theirs I just added butter. The falafel was from a stashed pack in the larder and houmous was also shop bought.

The reality:  The toddlers did the usual and just gorged on carbs with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese – the right colour of course.  They both ate two wraps filled with buttery couscous covered in (orange) cheddar. Falafal and houmous were rejected. All stashes of cucumber and tomatoe were depleted. The floor was a bloody mess but the dinner a reasonable success – and as a sucker for falafel, I was happy.


The food: Daddy was again a-wall in academia so the ever handy ‘bag of ragu’ was reefed out of the freezer for some Spaghetti Bolognese with fresh egg pasta. I make up about 6lb of mince and veg into a mega pot of ragu every few months and save portions of about 700g for days like this. The protesters don’t know it but they are eating all sorts on contraband in this dinner – onion, carrot, courgette,celery. Ha! It’s all in there suckers.  Mummy 1, toddlers 0.

The reality: After the inevitable argument about the colour of the cheddar, this was successful. Spidey scoffed a full bowl. Yoda was still a bit off colour but ate maybe half.  Generally this is an old reliable though so we normally have a good result. I had to stop myself eating Daddy’s portion. I rewarded my self-control with some Green and Blacks when the lunatics were in bed.


The food: Solo parenting once more, I made a good effort with smoked haddock fish cakes served with a salad. The fish was lightly poached and flaked in the morning and the potatoes mashed ahead of a trip to the library.  I bunged the fish and potatoes into the mixer bowl, adding the poaching milk (minus any bones and milk skin), butter and some green beans and quickly mixed. I just shaped, floured, and coated them in bread crumbs before lightly frying for a few minutes and bunging into the preheated oven for another ten minutes. While the bubba slept and the biggies were distracted by their new books I made them up and had them ready to go into the oven around 5 o’clock- which was handy with just the one hand!

This is the only dinner I actually took a pic of – clearly before my reds and greens were confiscated.

The reality:  You’d think given they love bith smoked fish and potatoes, these would have been a success.  Spidey declared them to be ‘manky’. Yoda ate one. Both then had two bowls of rice crispies which at least meant they were full.  In truth the fish cakes were lovely – and easy to serve and eat with a latched on bubba. I’m tiring of lettuce only salads though! As a handy dinner I’m not going to give up on these.

So there. Not as shameful as it might have been. I actually consider my pair reasonable eaters but it does go to show how hit-and-miss mealtimes are over the course of a week.Head over to Bumbles of Rice where she has done a great round up with posts from Office Mum, Learner Mama, Dr. How, the Wonderful Wagon, Hushabye Farm and other contributors.

Tonight is steak night here – the worst dinner ever for a breastfeeding mama.  If wee man isn’t in a milky slumber by dinner time I’ll be asking hubby to do the chopping up for me.  That keeps my ‘good hand’ free for the wine.

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7 thoughts on “A Week in Dinners – outing real dinners with Bumbles of Rice

  1. I remember feeding toddlers – My eldest would try anything once but my youngest was another story, if it was anyway spicy or “different” was a no go, she is fourteen now and not much better although I managed to get enchiladas into her this week. And I breastfed both so I know how it felt to eat dinner one handed – Great post 🙂

    1. Thanks Amber! They are mad little peoole aren’t they!? I refuse to have arguments about food though so think if there’s a good variety of fairly healthy stuff on offer we’re doing ok.
      In the meantime I got my one handed steak while wee man gorged! X

    1. Oh I was envious of your lamb (all time favourite) but wasn’t able to leave you a jealous comment!!! I’m definitely trying another incarnation of the fish cakes. They were delish xx

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