Food Glorious Food

IT is rubbish having to feed children during the summer holidays.

Normally I can send them off to school with cereal (no milk), a few biscuits inside them plus dinner money and not have to worry about their stomachs until 5pm. At which time there is a mad scramble in the cupboards and freezer for whatever cooks in a maximum of ten minutes. I’m pretty lucky that my kids eat most things but often I have to remember who likes peas and who likes beans and who likes both and who doesn’t like either. During term time that’s as complicated as it gets. But having them at home 24/7 is an entirely different ballgame. It’s a feeding frenzy. Meal times have become a chimp’s tea party and there are constant whines of “I’m hun-gryyy” in between. It really is a wonder that I’ve not got my head in the oven.

The school holiday means I have to feed three children, three times a day with snacks in between plus monitoring what healthy/non healthy stuff they’ve had. And this is so hard especially if you’re out & about or just feeling lazy. If I had my way, the Five A Day would be:

1) Contents of a party bag

2) Pizza

3) Walkers Crisps

4) Chocolate biscuits

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5) Anything microwavable

Okay so I’m exaggerating but I’ve tried all the Annabel Karmel stuff, even bloody Popcorn Chicken and it never goes down as well as fish n chips. I find when I have spent hours cooking up something healthy it’s often received with cries of “It’s dis-gust-ing” and “What IS this?”. Saint Annabel and Jamie Bloody Oliver exist just to show me what I’m doing wrong and it’s precisely their recipe books that stress me out. Although I bet Jules Oliver sneaks the odd McDonalds into the house.

Oh but I try! I cook a mean Spag Bol and I’m an expert at hiding carrots and peas in a Shepherd’s Pie. It’s just children always seem to be so very hungry, usually ten minutes after feeding. If you’re out it’s expensive and if you’re in it’s annoying. Keeping cupboards stocked and children’s’ tummies full is worthy of an Olympic Gold. And there are only so many packets of Pom Bears your child benefit can stretch to.

At the moment my staple holiday food includes:

1) Cereal

2) Pasta with pesto or cheese

3) Beans

4) Hot weather picnic lunch, melted and covered with grass or sand

5) Jam sandwich

What I’m also trying to do is eat with my children as this doesn’t happen very often in term time. It’s not very fun and wholesome though. We’re not talking The Waltons, it’s so much more The Simpsons. There’s the fidgety ants-in-his-pants 9 year old, the wild toddler who throws food and the 7 year old who moans “He’s got the blue bowl, I want the blue bowl and I don’t like the yellow cup.” Perhaps those families that eat their dinners whilst collectively enjoying the TV know something I don’t? They are certainly wiser. Although I’ve realised that quality family time is not dependent on eating together, thankfully.

If I was a mother to aquarium fish, my job would be easier. Fish do not need to be called seventeen times to dinner nor do they demand more than a few flakes once a day. They don’t care about the colour of the flakes or the fact that one fish has a smaller/larger portion. I wish children were equally appreciative. But alas, children are not fish. Hopefully they’ll turn out smarter and, hey, I’ve never known a fish to let you have the last bit of their lolly.