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Stress: I’m trying to cook dinner, but the hunger monsters are biting my legs!

By Ann Wright

“So, what are you not doing today?”

My usual response: “Uh ... I don't know.”

Until I get close to the end of the day, when I have the choice of doing another couple chores or going to bed/knitting/reading, I often don't know what I won't be doing.

What I am doing is trying to be more realistic about what is on my to-do list and, as a result, I've been thinking about ways I can make weekday evenings less stressful.

One area that has been particularly stressful for me the past few years is dinnertime. Since becoming a mother, then having a toddler who insisted on eating only chicken nuggets, canned corn, apple slices and milk every evening for nearly a year (Ahhh! I'm a good cook! Why won't this kid eat anything I make!), dinnertime has been a frustration.

As my children have gotten a little older, it's gotten somewhat better and that toddler-now-kid's diet is slowly expanding. However, the time between arriving home after work/daycare and the point at which my children turn into hunger monsters is oh, so, short. After getting them a snack to put off the emergence of the hunger monsters, I've got about 30-40 minutes, give or take, to have dinner ready.

So I plan meals for each week and grocery shop on weekends. The Crock-Pot is a best friend. I'm proficient at the one-pot, 30-minute meal. I always have chicken nuggets in the freezer, just in case.

I'm not sure if I can do much more to make the dinner preparation process faster. So what can I do to make it less stressful? I'm pondering my attitudes and approach to the situation. If you have any suggestions, send them my way at Ann.Wright@gjsentinel.com.

I also will peruse a book that a publisher recently sent my way: “Eat Yourself Calm: Ingredients & Recipes To Reduce The Stress In Your Life” by Gill Paul and Karen Sullivan. It recommends dark chocolate, ginger and oats among other ingredients for creating foods to reduce stress. I have no idea if this book really will be helpful, but dark chocolate, here I come …

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