Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making Meals

One of my favourite books on how to raise children simply is “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. In one of the chapters he speaks about family dinners and the importance of adding rhythm to this part of the day. First, he stresses the importance of involving children in the process of dinner preparation. My two year old loves to sit and cut soft fruits with a plastic knife. If I have nothing she can safely prepare I pull a couple of spices out of the cupboard, give her a measuring cup of water and let her “cook” with me.

Payne then writes about simplifying foods and food choices. He suggests asking the following questions: Is this food designed to nourish or to entertain? To stimulate? More simply, is this food designed or was it grown? Did it exist fifty years ago? Is it unnecessarily complex, with ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce?” We did some ingredient comparing the other day and my son found it fascinating. One jar of peanut butter had a huge list of ingredients while the other had one...peanuts.

The part of the chapter I want to implement in our household is adding a meal rhythm during the week. Payne gives an example of “Monday pasta night, Tuesday rice night, Wednesday soup and so on.” It doesn’t mean you have to have the same pasta dish, rice dish or soup week after week. It leaves room for imagination and the process is good for the meal planning mama as well. We are going to adopt Monday pasta night, Tuesday rice night, Wednesday soup night, Thursday vegetarian night and Friday homemade pizza night. I will leave the weekends free since it’s much easier to cook together when we are home all day. My children love predictability and rhythm and I think this meal plan will fit in well with their personalities. My son especially loves to know what is coming next.

I will leave you with one of my favourite soup recipes. I make it often and it is a hit with the whole family. It is a tortilla soup recipe adapted from “The Best of the Best and More.”

2 tbsp oil

4 corn tortillas cut into strips

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 or 2 smoked chilpotle peppers in adobo sauce (depending on how spicy you want the soup to be)

(you can also use 2 anaheim chilies, roasted, seeded and finely chopped)

2 28 oz cans/jars preserved tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

5 cups chicken broth

2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts

Heat the oil in a large stock pot add the tortillas and cook until they are golden brown. Add the onion and cook until translucent, add the garlic and jalapeno. Cook for a few minutes and add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook the mixture for approximately 10 minutes then add the cumin and cayenne. Whisk in the chicken broth. (I also like to puree the soup with my handheld mixer while it’s in the pot. It gives the soup a smoother texture that my children enjoy). Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Add the shredded chicken until heated through. For garnish we like to use grated cheese, baked tortilla strips and sour cream.

We like to use local, organic ingredients for our meals. There are so many wonderful little farms around here and we are lucky to have them as part of our local farmers market. Hope you enjoy!


  1. I make meal plans each week and the boys always ask me to check my book to see what's for dinner. "Oh boy, spaghetti night!" Of course, I have like seven core recipes so those end up just being rotated around *so bored of my cooking*

  2. What lovely thoughts on eating and rhythms, cheers Marie

  3. This soup recipe looks delicious! I have implemented this same meal plan from Simplicity Parenting at my house in the past. I don't know how I fell out of the habit, because it worked great. I should try it again.