New York Times best selling author and nutritionist Leanne Ely (www.savingdinner.com) helps parents deal with the notorious Witching Hour.
Leanne Ely says you can solve your dinnertime dilemma with help from her “5 guaranteed-to-shut-down the witching hour tips or I will come and cook dinner for your family myself!”
1) Have a Plan. You have to have your menu planned for the week so you’re not schlepping through the grocery store at 5:45 with hungry, miserable kids hoping to score a rotisserie chicken. If you have your meals planned for the week, you’ll be more than a little ahead of the game–75% of Americans don’t know what’s for dinner at 4:30 PM each day. If you have your plan, you’ll have thawed chicken and some veggies stashed in the freezer; no last minute runs to the store.
2) Appetizers Anyone? Having a quick appetizer for the kids will soothe their tired little selves. Have this stuff ready to go in little plastic containers–any little veggies you can think of that you can plop on a plate easily and serve with some (dreaded) Ranch dressing. Kids will eat anything with Ranch dressing! (See Leanne’s Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe below.)
3) Play with Your Food. You’ll double your chances of getting your kids to eat their vegetables, if you give them some toothpicks to stab the veggies with. Kids love all manner of violent behavior; just make sure Junior doesn’t put the baby’s eye out and no Norman Bates imitations!
4) Hire Help. Don’t you wish? For most, that ain’t happening. In lieu of getting a chef and butler, train your little Padawan (future Jedi) learners. Give them duties in the kitchen and teach them what to do. True, it might take longer initially, but there will come a point where your 12 year old can suddenly make dinner by himself. That’s because you had him at your elbow since he was little. Don’t miss this golden opportunity.
5) Make a Busy Box. Have a plastic tub with special stuff that the kids can only play with when Mom is making dinner. Put some books in there, special games, puzzles and some pretend cookware! While you’re busy making the salad, ask little Suzie to make her pretend salad and talk her through it as you do your own. Kids like being involved even when it’s just pretend!
Leanne Ely’s Recipe for Homemade Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup lowfat mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste as necessary.
Keeps for a week. Keep sealed in the fridge.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.