Empty nest dining style

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I wasn’t always the super healthy “crunchy granola” mom. We had snacks. We went out for ice cream. I made boxed macaroni and cheese (that stuff is delicious. I said what I said).

Still, I did try to keep an even keel. We ate our vegetables. We didn’t always eat dessert first. We had standards.

I famously remember trying to be a “fun mom” at mealtime once. I thought a casual summer meal of finger foods like cheese and fruit would be a refreshing change of pace.

We nibbled along until I announced it was time for baths before bedtime. Four-year-old Boywonder was aghast.

“We didn’t have dinner yet, mommy.” He was too young to tell time, but he certainly knew the normal course of things. He knew that dinner came before bath which came before bed.

I explained that all those “munchies” we had been enjoying were, in fact, dinner. He looked at me, brows drawn, and said with all the seriousness (and a fair hint of disappointment) that a preschooler can muster, “no, mommy. DINNER. Meat, applesauce and MILK. On a PLATE.”

I learned that I had a traditionalist in my midst. None of this hippy-dippy finger food for dinner for this kid. We stuck to pretty traditional dinnertime fare.

I also stocked up on the usual snacks: popcorn, fruit. We live next door to an amazing farm market, so I was not above sending the kids across the field for a watermelon. Lift with your legs, not with your back, son.

Changing times

Then, the children were raised and moved out on their own.  Our daughter recently stopped for a visit. Upon opening the refrigerator, she let out an audible gasp: “Popsicles AND three kinds of ice cream! There is bottled lemonade! What happened to telling us to drink water?”

She called her brother to report all the wonders found in her parent’s refrigerator. “This is amazing! They have freezer foods and pizza rolls!”

We also eat out so much more now that it’s just the two of us and not four or more for most meals. There are so many lovely, locally-owned restaurants that it would seem wrong NOT to support them, right?

Knowing the takeout orders of various eateries is an art form, really. Mr. Wonderful and I have taken “I’ll buy if you fly” to new lengths. I preorder and he picks up on his way home from the city. No fuss. No muss. I’m just waiting for him to figure out that my “buy” is out of our joint account, so he is really doing all the heavy lifting here.

I mentioned this in conversation and Boywonder laughed. “Who are you and what have you done with my ‘we have food at home’ mother?”

Touché, son.

Balanced

I like to cook until I don’t like to cook. That feeling seems to come in waves. I am sometimes meal planning a major feast or three complete with sides, desserts, and planned use of leftovers that would make my grandmother proud — no scrap of food shall be wasted!

Or, I have absolutely no desire to plan or prepare anything. I want to have standing orders at various establishments. “Oh, it’s Tuesday? Kymberly will be here for her takeout soon.”

So our “balanced diet” is  little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of only doing — and eating — what we feel like at dinnertime. It is glorious.

We are having a good time eating what and when we feel like it — or not. Our empty(ish) nest is definitely feathered with takeout boxes and cookie crumbs.

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