We are a blended family and our seating varies weekly with parenting plans and children living between two homes. We are keenly aware of the empty seats around our table and it is a painful reality that we all accept. However, the ones who gather often talk about the ones not present and each one is still part of our family rhythm. Mealtimes are a valued time to gather - even our senior in high school agrees!
As mother/wife/stepmom, the duty falls to me to plan, shop and prepare our meals. Accommodating the tastes of seven individuals from differing family menu styles has been an enormous challenge, and yet it is one that helps me know my tribe better. Now I can usually tell who prefers no tomatoes on their salad, who loves black beans and who will pass on the pineapple chunks.
Our greatest struggle is time. Preparation and cleanup can be so tiring. We are late diners and the little children need to be put to bed, the older ones disappear before conscription to duty. It's easy to resent the work and some days I fight especially hard to quell the resentment that rises from the never-ending tasks. But I'm counting on the memories to make it all worthwhile.
I would love to hear from others with a large family about the simplest meals that are sure-pleasers! Our regular rotation could use an update. Do you plan ahead or wing it? How do you manage to keep the budget in line? I'm looking for inspiration.