Is Family Mealtime Possible when Both Parents Work Out of the House?

Guest post written by Mom Made's Founder, Heather, for onehungrymama.com: Before I had kids, my husband and I lived and worked in London. We enjoyed cooking at home most weekdays and eating out on weekends. We’d roll in from work around 7:30 or 8 p.m. and sit down to dinner around 9 p.m. Name the ethnic food, and we made it. Going out to eat was also relaxing and fun; we had our favorite places and got to know the wait staff and bartenders in those restaurants. But making dinner at home was my favorite, cherished time together, even though it required our “cooking dance”: avoiding bumping into each other in the tiny hallway that served as the kitchen in our London flat. We promised each other when we had kids, we wouldn’t change a thing.

Well, that’s not quite what happened…After having two kids and launching a nation-wide, organic food company of frozen meals, munchies and bites, Mom Made Foods, mealtimes have shifted things slightly. Here are my top 5 secrets to upholding your adventures with food, even after having kids:

1) Meal O’Clock. Mealtimes at our house are 5:30/6:00pm. Yes, early. The second that the first parent arrives home, the kids are clamoring for our love and hungry for dinner. Pushing dinner time later (which we’ve tried from time to time) means cranky kids who are too tired to eat.  So we work on their clock in order to have a happy dinner time together—it’s still our favorite time of day.

2) Planning Meals. The dinner menu is still diverse but recipes have become much simpler. Prep time is minimal as we rush in the door after busy work days. We also have become much more organized about planning meals, especially dinners. We subscribe to a weekly meal plan company, The Six O’Clock Scramble, and one of us shops on Sundays for the week of planned dinners. Our workdays are packed and there’s hardly ever a minute to spare to pick up an extra ingredient on the way home.

3) Eating out. We’ve never stopped going to the restaurants we liked before having kids. We’ve kept a few special ones for date nights, but we’re not afraid to take the family to a restaurant without a kids menu AND white table cloths. Yes, you might have to walk out of one or two to teach a lesson to an misbehaved child, but that’s how they learn! Kids need to be taught manners. They’re not born with table manners.

4) Kids Palates. Research says it takes a child 10-20 times to be exposed to a food before they decide whether they like it. An exposure can mean the food is on the table and not on their plate, then they might put it in their mouth the next time then take it out of their mouth. After a few more exposures, they will be eating it with you. These things take time and a lot of patience! We high-fived recently when our son requested Pakistani food for his 7th birthday dinner. And it’s music to my ears when he asks for salad with dinner. He proudly told his 1st grade class about how and why his favorite vegetable is red peppers.

5) Running a Diner. If you’re not careful as a parent, you can find yourself running a diner, making food to order for each child for every meal. The rule in our house is that the kids can make requests at breakfast and lunch. But when it comes to dinner, their choice is whatever we’re making that night. We eat family-style, so they can help themselves to the foods as they wish, but we’re not hopping up from the table to make a p-b-j the night we make Thai Green Curry. Rather, they can choose to eat the curry or one of the sides as they’d like. We typically have some familiar food in each meal that they’ll turn to if they’re not in the mood to be adventurous. Our daughter is picky and right now if it were up to her, we’d have mac ’n’ cheese for dinner every night. But she’s two years old, and we’re not running a diner.

We have to remind ourselves of these rules regularly, and it takes constant work to hold the boundaries, especially on that really busy week when a parent is traveling for work or life just gets crazy. But those are the times when it’s most important to stick to it. The hard work does pay off.

Mom Made Munchies, a Lunchbox Hit

Is your child tired of finding the same old PB&J in the lunchbox day after day? Mom Made Munchies require even less preparation than a simple sandwich and will make lunch the highlight of your child's day! Mom Made Cheese Pizza, Chicken, Turkey Sausage, Bean Burrito and Apple Pie Munchies take less than 3 minutes to prepare. Better yet, they are organic, stuffed with veggies, and so delicious that your child will never know how healthy they are!

How to Prep a Munchie for a Lunchbox:

1. Remove plastic covering and wrap Munchie in paper towel.

2. Microwave wrapped Munchie on high for 1 minute or until hot.

For a crispier crust, we recommend heating the Munchie in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes at 375˚.

3. Wrap Munchie in aluminum foil and place in lunch box (or Lunchskin, our favorite reusable bag!)

 

Send to school with your child. :)

Munchies are easy to prepare, healthy, and delicious. Our crust is made with whole grains and the sauce is made with vegetables, which makes it thicker so that it does not drip and make a mess! It also makes the Munchies more nutritious and flavorful.

Our Cheese Pizza Munchie is packed with sweet potato, butternut squash, cauliflower, real cheese and a yummy sauce. It is 100% organic.

Our Bean Burrito Munchie is filled with brown rice, corn, green pepper, real cheese and beans. It is 100% organic.

Our Chicken Munchie is filled with organic veggies, antibiotic-free chicken, beans, rice and real cheese.

Our Turkey Sausage Munchie is stuffed with organic veggies, antibiotic-free turkey sausage, real cheese and a yummy sauce.

Our Apple Pie Munchie is filled with organic apples and cinnamon. It tastes homemade and will be a favorite treat! It is 100% organic.

Happy Lunching! :)

Mom-to-Mom Perspective

Ever feel like this?  I do. This reminds me of the aftermath of a college frat party gone kid-style.  One of the many reasons I created Mom Made Foods was to help take the stress out of getting a healthy meal cooked for hungry kiddos.  When you're having a day like this, just put your feet up and trust Mom Made to do the cooking!

PS: See if you can find dinosaur starring down Raggety Ann?  Love it! :-)

Ask the Nutritionist: Is it Unhealthy for My Son to Eat Eggs Every Day?

Organic brown eggs

“My 9 year old son likes to eat the exact same breakfast every day: scrambled eggs with cheese rolled in a tortilla. Some weeks he’s been eating 10+ eggs! Should we be worried about the cholesterol in all those eggs? My son is very active, tall for his age and in the 60th percentile for weight. Thanks! Dad of 3 boys, Arlington, VA.”

The poor egg! Eggs have had some bad PR over the past several years because of how much cholesterol they contain. However, the cholesterol you eat doesn't have as much an effect on your cholesterol in your blood - for that, you really ought to limit saturated fat. So, I'd be less concerned about the eggs than I would the cheese in his tortilla (though cheese does provide calcium that growing kids need as well). Eggs are a terrific source of high-quality protein, and also provide beneficial vitamins and nutrients that kids especially need, such as vitamin D, choline and selenium. And, they have very low levels of fat, including saturated fat. In fact, several research studies indicate that a diet including 1-2 eggs per day doesn't have a major impact on heart disease risk. As long as the rest of his daily diet is varied, includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, I wouldn't worry about his current breakfast of choice.

Do you have a question?  Please send an email to healthy@mommadefoods.com  and I’ll answer it soon.

The "Glamorous" Life as Mom Made CEO: Our Expansion into Northern California

Last week I answered a typical question from a friend, “What's new at Mom Made?” with a short explanation: "We're booming at Mom Made.  Just this month we've added new availability in Northern California, through Whole Foods and independent stores, in addition to the recent additions of chains up and down the east coast." Sometimes, like an echo in my own ear, I listen to how I answer these questions and have to pinch myself how far we’ve come in the 5.5 years we’ve been in business.  But I can't help but think about how much effort goes into our successes!  Some of my friends think that my job is ideal and glamorous.  I agree it’s ideal, I love working with our Mom Made team and love to be helping kids eat healthier every day!  But glamorous, ha!  Here’s a bit of the (not so) glamorous itinerary behind what it took to get to Northern California...

In September 2011, I left my husband and kids behind for a week and I flew out to the west coast.  Our Sales Director had other meetings in other areas of the country that same week so I traveled solo.  My team helped fill my schedule with sales meetings in Seattle and in/around the Northern California region. Throughout this whole journey, I travelled with my luggage, plus a cooler filled with frozen product samples, sales materials, my laptop, and often have to procure toaster ovens and microwaves!

Monday: Morning at the office in Alexandria Virginia; Afternoon flight from DC to Seattle; Rent car #1

Tuesday: Early morning sales meeting; Led late morning sales training; Afternoon flight to San Francisco; Rent car #2

Wednesday: Drive 1.5 hrs; Early morning meeting with Whole Foods Northern California; Drive 2 hrs; Afternoon sales meeting; Drive 2 hrs; Dinner with my college friend at the fabulous restaurant Chez Panisse!*

Thursday: Early morning flight back toSeattle; Rent car #3; Two sales meetings with local grocery chains.

Friday: Missed my crack-of-dawn flight from Seattle to DC by 60 seconds due to security hold up – took 18 hours to get back to DC; Cab from DC airport to a party to meet my husband because we had a babysitter booked…and I never like to miss a party!

So there you have a not-too-untypical week of travel on behalf of Mom Made Foods!  Fortunately, hard work does pay off as Mom Made is now in freezer aisles in Whole Foods Northern California, a new region that is filled with lots of organic-foods-loving-families who we know will love Mom Made.  All so worth it!

*The most glamorous part of my travels (and the best perk when business traveling) is always to meet up with old friends across the country!