Talking about My Dinner Again

It was an epiphany. No, silly, it wasn’t like like Saul suddenly becoming a Christian, or Isaac Newton getting bopped in the head with a Granny Smith. This was an epiphany of the domestic sort, of the suddenly frugal sort, of the ugh-I’m-too-tired-to-make-dinner-and-there’s-all-this-leftover-crap-in-the-fridge sort.

My epiphany? The “Whatever You Want for Dinner” dinner. Yeah, I know. My Nobel is coming next.

The “Whatever You Want for Dinner” (heretofore known as the WYWD, because I don’t feel like writing that out again) dinner is basically all of our leftovers from the last few days heated up and spread out in the middle of our dining room table. But the trick is–and this is important, parents–I don’t tell the girls we’re eating leftovers. I seriously tell them we’re having the WYWD, and that they can eat whatever they want for dinner. They will hear no orders to try their vegetables, or finish their milk, or stop licking the ketchup off the plate. They can choose whatever they want from the selections before them, and that’s the WYWD.

And it works like magic. It’s the word’s cheapest buffet, and it makes the kids happier than if I told them we were having just ice cream for dinner (actually, I don’t know this for sure, because what kind of dang fool do you think I am to give my kids ice cream for dinner? Shoot. They’d take away my “crunchy mom” card for sure if they knew that). Of course I love it, because, hello, no dishes, and frankly, afterward my fridge is clean. And surprisingly, the girls actually tend to choose foods that are pretty balanced. Maybe I could introduce ice cream after all.

I realize that other families probably do something like this all the time. I know that. But we’ve been operating on years of “Oh, I made pasta tonight, and there’s a bunch left over, so we’re having the exact same thing tomorrow,” which inevitably results in everybody picking forlornly at their plates and asking for extra bread. For some reason not being forced to eat the leftovers–you mean I don’t have to eat that if I don’t want to?–makes them more appealing. Do you want to know what tonight’s choices were? It sounds absolutely disgusting. I almost don’t want to tell you:

  • roasted Brussels sprouts and red potatoes
  • restaurant pizza
  • restaurant chicken tenders and French fries
  • homemade sandwich bread (those mini-slices I told you about last week)
  • chicken salad I made with grapes, almonds, and celery I found in the fridge and dumped in
  • applesauce
  • wine

Just kidding on that last one. That was for the grown-ups. But isn’t that gross? But we had to get rid of the stuff, right? I did the WYWD once with fritatta, pancakes, spaghetti, and fruit, and it went down like gangbusters. And tonight, Saoirse and Quinn acted like I was giving them a paid holiday (except that they’re tiny children, so every day is like a paid holiday, but work with me here. I’m on a roll).

Ah, leftovers. Saul may have become a saint, and Newton may have had his little Universal Law of Gravitation to boost his ego, but I? I have the Whatever You Want for Dinner dinner, and right now, that is the greatest darned invention in my life. I’ll let you know what I come up with tomorrow. I’m thinking…cereal and a banana for breakfast. Protein, carbs, fruit, done. I am on a ROLL.


  1. Duffy | 7th Mar 12

    What did toddlers live on before ketchup?

    • Leah Ferguson | 7th Mar 12

      I think they go straight from breastmilk or formula to the ketchup, like it’s the next natural step. I’d rather not know the reason why.

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