What’s For Dinner?

When I'm on the ball, I'm in the kitchen at 3:30 p.m. and I have a great dinner — and dessert — ready by the time my husband gets home. But I'll admit that I'm a seasoned procrastinator and most days I'm winging it. I have a good idea what I have in the freezer and fridge and it usually all comes together within thirty minutes before my husband walks in the door.

But tonight, I was winging it the minute I walked in the door after church. Six pairs of hungry eyes were trained on me from the minute I set foot in the foyer. I've learned to ignore these stares and they've all learned not to ask me what's for dinner — or else. You don't want to push Momma when she's got a dinner deadline to meet, pronto!

Well, I amaze myself sometimes. Some call what I made for dinner "American Chop Suey." Others call it "Hamburger Helper." I called it: "Shutupandeatit."

Served with a side of salad (and rolls that I totally forgot about until 3½ hours after dinner) it was completely edible, substantial and tasty, even though the kids doubted it before they had their first taste.

I try to ignore them when they push stuff around on their plate, but inevitably I was asked, "What's in it?"

"If you must know, it's leftover macaroni and cheese with hamburger, tomato sauce and Sloppy Joe seasoning."

My eight-year-old son was impressed. Mind you, this is the same child that's impressed with whatever odd thing he finds on the street and gives to me, things I sometimes have to deposit directly into the trash. The girls were more cautious.

"What do you call this again?"

"She said, ‘shutupandeatit'."

"Oh, I get it!"

"What's for dessert, Momma?"


Sure, it's not Wall Street, but cram seven of us in a kitchen that is less than 200 square feet and the adrenaline starts pumping. "I'll take seconds!"

"Are there thirds?"

"You want seconds? Here you go. And, no, you can't have thirds because you'll vomit. Move your elbow out of your sister's plate."

"I don't want to sit by him; he'll get sick on me."

"Stop looking at me!"


"Right foot on yellow, left hand on blue, right hand on green… Okay. Is everybody ready?"

"Bless us, O, Lord and these Thy gifts that we are about to receive…"



(Raucous laughter from the offending boy.)


"And God bless you."

"Can I wash my pork chop? I think I'm going to be sick now."

The Family Table: Make time for more than just dinner with your family. Get in there and swap some of those germs, catch those screwed up faces when you present the entrée and sit back and take it all in with your beloved spouse while your cherubs cast lots for the side dishes.

And don't forget to duck those flying mashed potatoes.

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  • Guest

    When I get the "What's for dinner?!?" from the kids, they get back "Food!"  They'll ask "What KIND of food?!?"  I answer, "The kind you can eat!" and it goes on and on.

    Eventually they learn not to ask anymore.  🙂

    Every now and then, they forget, and I hear, "What's for dinner?!?" and when they hear "Food!" what I get back now is, "Oh yeah…don't ask 'what's for dinner'!"


    You think that the older children exist to set an example for the younger children.  But it is certainly at the dinner table that all that is reversed.  They all inevitably slink down to the antics of the youngest!  Sometimes it drives you mad.  And sometimes, you have to keep from laughing koolaid out of your nose.  🙂


    To keep from being last-minute, I grocery shop once a week according to a list.  Granted, I'm leaving the store with 2 loaded carts, but it has been a life-saver.  I have 7 or 8 days worth of dinners already listed.  Some take longer, and some are quickies, and some are guaranteed favorites of the majority.  I have finally gotten myself into the habit – when I start to cook dinner – to ask MYSELF, "What's for dinner tomorrow?"  Usually, by the night before, I know how crazy the next day is, and know if I need a quick meal or not.  THAT's when I defrost the food – the night before.  And I have all the ingredients for certain because i made that darn list some days ago before going to the grocery store. 

    It works for me, anyway.

  • Guest

    What is so mischevious about children asking what's for dinner?  It sounds like a reasonable question to me.  As for shopping according to a list and defrosting the meat the night before, isn't that pretty standard?  I keep a list on the fridge and add items whenever I notice that one is running low.  I have a plan for the upcoming week's meals before going shopping.  I end up shopping twice a week, because I shop at two different grocery stores.

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Claire, you just don’t understand – it increases the period of moaning over nutritious versus MacDonald meals.

    Go ahead – tell your inner child – ‘Pasta with broccoli prima vera’ – here yourself w-h-i-n-e . . . .

    HOWEVER, my late wife would ask our daughter, much pickier than either of us, what she might like to eat next week. The shopping list could accommodate some selections. And, as with clothing picking, sometimes it was ‘do you want this or that?’ And, ‘both’ was usually an option.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    The theory is good.  But the practical results to "What's for dinner?" and the proper response is often followed by "aaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwww"  or

    "yyyyyuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk"  or

    "what are wwweeee eating"  ('cause clearly that's only for adults!) or

    any number of complaints that seem standard across borders.

    Same thing at the grocery store.  Standing rule is – if a child looks at a food and says loudly "yuck!" the end result is mom buying item and cooking it for child.  I came up with this one after the 4 year old looked into someone else's basket and said same embarassing remark. 

    IT's a tactic to help children learn self-restraint (they don't NEED to know what's for dinner) and to save a little sanity (what's left) for Mom.