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Musings on the Question: “What’s for supper?”

“What’s for supper?” This has to be one of the most common questions uttered in homes everywhere.  At least, that’s my opinion on it.  Of course I may be biased – feeding a family of six and all.  Surely it ranks up there with “Are we there yet?” or “What time is it?” or my all-time favorite –  “Why?”  At least for my family it is.  I have no data to support my thoughts, just my experience as a mom and primary cook for my clan.

In fact, it’s a question I frequently ask myself – all too often at the same time my hungry kids make their way to the kitchen to ask the very same question or my husband calls to say he’s on his way home and was wondering “What’s for supper?”

I’ve pondered this question lately – probably as a result of listening to a reading of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. In it, he speaks of the choices we have in selecting our food, and how that’s changed over time. While I don’t agree with everything he writes, it did cause me to look at how our family answers the question: “What’s for supper?”  Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Taste and food preferences
  2. Availability
  3. Nutrition
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience

All these factors influence our food selection in one way or another.  But I think for my family taste and food preferences trumps them all.  If my family doesn’t like it and won’t eat it, it really doesn’t matter if it’s healthy, cheap, and convenient.  Are they ungrateful? No. I still try including those foods on our menu once in a while – usually as a side dish – just to see if I can expand their tastes a little.  And they usually humor me by trying it, and sometimes even liking it.

After taste come availability.  After all, if it’s not available in the store, pantry, freezer, or garden – it’s not likely to be found on our supper menu.  With today’s transportation abilities, however, that’s quickly becoming a weaker influence.

Nutrition and cost tie for the next slot. I realize others may think differently.  I’m all for eating healthy, and as a dietitian I’m always encouraging a healthy way of eating.  But there are times when a nutritionally superior food is just, well, too expensive. I love salmon, and it’s super healthy for you, but in the middle of the midwest in the middle of winter it’s just too much – at least for our budget.  So instead of the fresh salmon, we might have tuna or another type of fish that’s not so hard on the wallet, but still a healthy choice.  Suffice it to say that there is a balance.  For our family I will pay a little more for something that is healthier it if fits in our budget.  To me that is an investment in the lives of my family.  I just can’t fit in everything.

Last, but not least, is convenience.  This is not as high on my list of influencers, but it may be for others.  And truthfully, there are certain times of the year when convenience moves up the ladder a bit.  Baseball and basketball seasons come to mind – when quick meals and sandwiches seem to reign.

So that’s it. “What’s for supper?” All things considered, if it tastes good and my family likes it, it is reasonably priced, nutritionally healthy, and is available it will most likely make it to our menu at one time or another.  Convenience is icing on the top. So now, I’m curious.  What influences your food selection?  I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed or just don’t apply to our family.  How do you answer that question “What’s for supper?”

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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Cooking, Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

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