UNITED STATES—Dinner. It is the one thing so many of us have to grapple with every single day. What is for dinner? It seems like an easy question, but it is not the case because everyone has a different palate when it comes to food. One day you want this, one day you want that, one day you want leftovers and the next day you don’t want to cook at all.

Life is a rollercoaster ride, and it is not as prevalent as it is when it comes to dinner. Perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that no one will tell you precisely what they want. They’ll just say, “I don’t know.” And my mother would always give us the following reply when we were kids, “They don’t make I don’t knows.” Trust me I know it frustrated her because it totally frustrates me nowadays.

When you throw kids into the mix it because even harder. Why? Kids want what kids want and they never want anything that is healthy. I mean point out a kid to me who wants something that is healthy. They don’t. If they had their choice it would be McDonald’s daily in my family because who doesn’t love it, even though it is NOT the best option.

You want your kids to eat, but you don’t want them to eat the bad things whenever they have the option. Hate to say it, but there are those parents who just give in because they don’t want to deal with the headache and they just let them have what they please. How do you change that? Get the kids into the kitchen. That is something I have started to do and it makes a difference.

Kids do like to cook; more than anything they want to experiment with food and see what things work well together and what doesn’t work. I don’t love that, but as an adult that is how you learn to cook. It is indeed a trial-and-error learning experience. I don’t think planning dinner for the entire week works, you can try, but I will be honest, it is something that I have NEVER been able to accomplish. If anything, I might prepare a meal or two in advance, but I have always been told to NEVER craft your meals around grocery shopping, but I tend to do that. If I know I have the items it makes it so much easier to craft the meal.

Now is it smart to go to the grocery store to purchase ALL THE ITEMS FOR A PARTICULAR DISH? No, and I will adamantly say that again, no. When you do that you tend to spend a lot more and it results in you only having the items for that singular dish, not multiple dishes that you can craft or cook up. If you play with the culinary cuisines, it makes things more intriguing, Italian one day, Mexican another, Chinese mid-week, classic American the next day, then you can do a mixture of things or step outside the box on Friday. I mean the notion that you can’t cook five days a week, but it is possible, and these don’t have to be meals that take hours to complete. There are simple dishes you can craft and cook up that are fast and quick for the family and you.

That’s critical especially when you’re dealing with working parents. There are days you get off work and its just a brutal punch about getting in the kitchen and cooking up some food, so you have to think and be aware of what works and what doesn’t work for you based on your state of mind. Quick and easy, or slow and precise. Think of this when it comes to dinner, it is an opportunity to spend time with family that is time that is valuable and family is the most important thing.

Written By Zoe Mitchell