Here are the things my husband won’t eat:
- Red meat (heart issues)
- Any fresh fish or shellfish (allergic)
- Chicken (when served in any sauce that ensures it has flavor)
- Sausage/bratwurst/hot dogs (because he hates fun, obviously)
- Eggs (I don’t even know why)
- Leftovers (any time in fridge = suspicious)
- Any dessert (will make one-time exceptions for birthday cake)
Here is what Henry won’t eat:
- Anything that isn’t brown
This makes it… challenging when mealtime rolls around. It actually makes everything challenging – from the meal planning to the grocery shopping to the special preparation I have to take when pulling everything together. I want to slam my head into the wall out of sheer frustration but then I remember, as I’m pulling into the Whole Foods parking lot, that this is kind of one first-world problem that I should just shut up about.
To avoid fixing everyone individual meals, I typically make dinners that have at least one component that everyone will eat. Then, I offer sides and additions for each kid to round out their plates. (Is this how you do it? Tell me this is how you do it.)
All this to say, it’s a delicate balance and a metric ton of work. So, of course, Bob messed it all up.
I was preparing chicken fajitas a couple of weeks ago, which is a meal that everyone will eat at least a part of as it involves tortillas, copious amounts of cheese, fresh vegetables, organic/free-range (we call it “happy”) chicken and brown rice. At the last minute, Bob became opposed to the seasoning on the chicken. The seasoning that gave the chicken all of its flavor. The very mild, very delicious seasoning. He told me this, of course, right when I was adding the seasoning. It didn’t go over well. There was huffing and puffing and totally ruined fajitas.
Staring down an ever-shrinking pool of dinner options while eating bland chicken with a side of self-pity, I exclaimed, “YOU try and find creative ways of serving dinner to a picky family of five.”
He said, “Okay.”
Fast forward to this past weekend during which all three meals were Bob’s exclusive responsibility. The terms of the wager meant he had to plan for, shop for and cook for the family. No exceptions. No giving up and no giving in when things went downhill.
He managed a successful grocery trip with Millie on Friday morning and arrived home with ingredients for three complete dinners. To my great surprise, he kept the super random grocery store impulse purchases to a minimum. (That’s his speciality – super random grocery store impulse purchases. He doesn’t shop often but when he does, he usually returns with foods that are not a part of our regular rotation, like rhubarb.)
From these ingredients (sans rhubarb), he presented us with three meals.
Meal #1: Pancakes, sausage and fresh fruit.
Result: This is kind of a cop-out, right? Breakfast for dinner? I mean, who doesn’t love this? The kids aren’t complaining because there’s syrup involved and everyone gobbled up the pancakes (they’re brown!). However, he neglected to supplement plates with extra sides because Henry cleared his pancakes and then promptly retrieved and devoured the rest of a bag of pretzels.
Meal #2: Vegetarian nachos with rice and beans.
Result: Bob’s enthusiasm was waning at this point. He short-order cooked some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids and presented me with nachos. The biggest problem with the meal was it took him so long to put it together. Like, absurdly long. He was just kind of wandering around the kitchen a little dazed. I was famished, so by the time everything was put together, I had reached full-on hangry and didn’t even eat dinner with the family, opting for watching the news instead.
Meal #3: Barbecued grilled chicken with sautéed squash and brown rice.
Result: By the time last night rolled around, he had pretty much acknowledged that things weren’t going so well for him. His contribution to this meal? Chopping the yellow squash and zucchini. Millie devoured the dinner as offered while the boys picked other options.
To summarize, this whole thing ended in my favor.
The funny thing is, when Bob and I first started dating, he did all of the cooking. I simply didn’t know how and he had been cooking for himself and his son for a long time. I do not forget that the tables were once turned. So, it is with great respect that I say to him, “I WIN, loser!”