Running a company whose mission is to make it easy for busy families to eat well each night, I’ve become even more curious about how people think about food, how they put together their meals, and why they do what they do. It’s become a great conversation starter at parties – it usually goes: “I started a dinner service company – think Blue Apron but cooked!” “What a great idea!” “So… what do YOU do for dinner?”
These conversations have helped me see that there’s a pretty wide range in terms of how people approach their meals, especially parents of young children. Some common responses include:
- I make something halfway decent for my kids but then my spouse and I eat protein bars/ chips and salsa/ popcorn for dinner before falling asleep exhausted
- Kids eat chicken nuggets/mac n cheese/ grilled cheese and my spouse and I eat whatever one of us cooked over the weekend (and we eat it all week long)
- My spouse cooks a great meal 3x a week because s/he loves to cook and has the time.
- My spouse cooks a great meal 3x a week because we love to cook and eat but it’s stressful because we don’t have the time/energy.
- We do a lot of pizza
So I thought I would share how we eat in our household. Just some context: We’re a bi-racial/ bi-cultural (I’m Korean-American, my husband is a white guy who grew up in the Midwest), multi-generational (my mom lives with us and my husband and I have a baby boy) household. I also run a food business so obviously that also impacts things. I think of my/ my husband’s approach to dinner as having evolved over time:
Stage 1: Before my mom came to live with us and pre-kids
- Summary: We would cook on the weekends (wide range of cuisines – some Korean/ Asian, others not) and we would eat leftovers during the week or ordered out. We also traveled a lot for work so ate on the company’s dime when on the road.
- Level of stress about food: Pretty low. We (ok to be honest: I) like cooking and we had a lot of flexibility to cook/ not cook
- Health factor: Medium. The meals we were eating out weren’t so good for our waistlines/ general health.
Stage 2: After my mom came to live with us
- Summary: My mom is a member of a dying breed – the traditional Korean mom who feels it is mandatory for her family to eat a proper, balanced, tasty, and healthy meal at least 2x per day. She would cook when she wasn’t working at her job and almost every night, when my husband and I got home from work, there was something delicious in the refrigerator that just needed to be reheated
- Level of stress about food: Very low. This was the life!
- Health factor: Good. We ate a lot more vegetables and whole grains
Stage 3: After baby came
- Summary: My mom is the full-time caregiver for our son, so she no longer had as much time to cook. So we order about $150 worth of SomaFare every week, which gets us from Monday to Friday, depending on how much my husband is home for dinner vs traveling for work. We also keep multi-grain rice in the rice cooker and kimchi in the refrigerator so a typical meal for us is a SomaFare entree (like a chicken dish), one or two SomaFare vegetable sides, plus often a bit of rice and some kimchi. If my husband is doing paleo, he just doesn’t have the rice. We do a combination of cooking/eating out on the weekends.
- Level of stress about food: Pretty low – everything is in the refrigerator and we just need to heat it up! Come Saturday and Sunday when we start running out of SomaFare food, it gets a little more stressful though because we have to scramble to figure out what we are eating
- Health factor: Pretty good – our meals are pretty nutrition dense with a focus on protein and vegetables and minimal processed carbs and added sugar
How does your family do meals? In particular, dinner? How do you manage to get it done with all the other things going on?