Dinner and Deployment: Like Oil and Water

At our house, Dad is beginning the deployment cycle.  He's been gone for progressively longer periods during the second half of the summer, and he's just left for a five week class.  We're gradually moving from "Dad home" to "Dad gone" routines.  For me, one of the most frustrating changes is dinner.  Actually, some things are easier:  I'm not trying to figure out if Dad will make it home, and I could conceivably serve the same easy thing several nights in a row.  In fact, I think the kids would kind of like it.  Which brings me to my problem:

What do we eat while Dad is gone?

To someone who has never faced this dilemma, it probably sounds pretty easy.  But au contraire, my friend.  It's not easy at all.  I see the two main choices as being:  a) the same things you eat when Dad is home, or b) a steady diet of kid food.  I have one friend who does a five day rotation when Dad is deployed:  chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, pizza, grilled cheese, and hot dogs.  Regardless of your thoughts on the nutrition of that menu, I just can't do it.  I can't feed my kids the same fast-food style meals for an entire year.  I object to the foods themselves, I object to the idea that my kids won't eat grown-up food, and I object to the concept that dinner doesn't matter because Dad is gone.

As you can see, I've rejected the kid food diet.  The other obvious choice is to continue cooking as if Dad is home.  That's just not going to happen.  I find it terribly frustrating to make nice meals when no one is going to appreciate them.  Of my four kids, I have one vegetarian (who doesn't like vegetables, but that's another post) and one who puts ketchup on everything.  That leaves two who might appreciate the value of a nice Garlic-Lime chicken or Spicy Orange Pork Chops, but they can't be counted on to like the same things twice anyway.

What's a girl to do?  I'm sure there is some happy medium that will make our entire family come running to the table with glee.  (Cue the Stove Top Stuffing commercial).  I would love to hear how our readers face the dinner dilemma, especially when the kid to adult ratio is running a little high.

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