Experiments: Part I

So recently we had some experiments going in our household…and they each pertain to The Table in their own way.

First, we had a week that was kind of busy and I couldn’t seem to get myself organized enough to get to the store with any kind of meaningful grocery list.  It made me think about all those times I’ve heard people talk about having their routine weekly menu to fall back on.  Those of you who know about my culinary ADD know that a “weekly routine” when it comes to food is something that rarely happens around here!  But I thought I’d give some of those ideas a try.

I’m talking about the families who have “Pizza Night” and “Taco Night” and other various kinds of nights.  I love the idea for lots of reasons and am toying with the notion of implementing some of them in our house.  For one thing, the routine aspect of it makes menu planning much simpler…and another thing, kids love a predictable routine.  I smile when I hear people talk about their childhood and can reference this kind of family tradition. (Not to mention all these other important benefits.)

Maria Shriver once told a story about how they had Cereal Night once a week in her house growing up.  It was supposed to teach the kids a lesson about doing without or doing with less so they could give to others (they sponsored starving children in foreign countries.)  So, on Cereal Night they would talk about one of the countries in which one of their sponsorees lived and have cereal for dinner – the money they would have normally spent on meat and potatoes was sacrificed to help others.  Great idea – and the cute part of the story was that Maria said they never had the heart to tell their mother that they LOVED Cereal Night – it always felt like a treat instead of a sacrifice!  And, even better, she was telling the story in answer to a question about how her parents had instilled the notion of service into their children throughout their lives.

We certainly didn’t do anything as grandiose as feeding starving children, but we did try out a couple of the standard theme night dinners last week.  Monday we did “Breakfast for Dinner Night” (which is one of my husband’s favorites) and mostly that one happened because I really, really needed to go to the grocery store…all we had in the kitchen was eggs, bagels, sausage and some hash browns in the freezer.  Wednesday night was “Taco Night” with super standard hard-shell tacos and all the fillings.  I made some quick quacamole and microwaved some Mexican rice…that was it!  Easy breezy.  Friday was “Let the Kids Choose Dinner Night” with a predictable menu of fish sticks, french fries and macaroni & cheese…guaranteed to make everyone feel like they are seven again!  (Although I did at least make the mac&cheese instead of going to the familiar blue box of my own childhood.)

What I discovered is this:

It’s a great idea to have items for these themed-dinner nights on-hand most of the time because they are great go-to meals when you are out of time, can’t get to the store, or simply don’t feel like thinking about what to make for dinner.

If I could get myself a little more organized, it would be fun to have these on a regular enough basis that, when grown, my children might say, “Ah Thursdays, yep, that was usually Spaghetti Night when I was a kid,” and then hopefully add, “My mom made the best meatballs!”  🙂

So, what about you?  Do you currently have some standard theme meals you depend upon?  Did you when you were growing up?  I’d love some ideas as I embark on putting some routines in place at our Table.

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