Streamlined Meals

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Make mealtime a cinch for everyone

I believe that half the battle of running my large family is the ability to think two steps ahead of the game. I'm the mother of 12 kids, and nine of them still live at home. They are coming and going at all hours of the day and night. When they come home, they're hungry, and I don't want to make them wait to eat. Here are some tips to make mealtime a cinch for everyone.

First things first: buy a microwave. The microwave is the greatest invention since ice-cream. You can make a huge pot of whatever, and even a small child can heat his own food as needed.

I make a one-pot dish, a stew, soup, or casserole in time for the first shift of kiddies. But even the kid who comes home from his after-school job at 10:00 P.M. can have his food ready in a flash (no pun intended).

Picky kids

Instead of tossing a salad that will sit around and get soggy, I make a raw vegetable platter. It never ceases to amaze me how those veggies get devoured. Trust me, if it's presented in a nice fashion, and can be picked up with the fingers, it gets eaten. Even kids who are picky about vegetables will eat a peeled cucumber spear.

Pass the cheese

Here are some of the meals my kids prefer and I find easy to prepare and serve:

Spaghetti: I make it two ways; half of it with butter or garlic butter, and half with Italian-American style red sauce. The kids who don't touch tomatoes will eat the buttered spaghetti. Pass the cheese.

Pasta salad: Okay, sue me, but kids like pasta; it's filling and it's cheap. I make one that has broccoli florets, canned chopped tomatoes, cheese chunks and vinaigrette. Some of my kids prefer this heated in the microwave, though it's meant to be eaten cold.

Tuna Noodle Salad has baby peas, tuna, chopped pickles and onions, and a mayonnaise based dressing. The kids go for this in a big way.

Another favorite is a meatball and potato stew that cooks on the stovetop. In a greased Dutch oven, alternate large chunks of potatoes with walnut-sized meatballs. Make two or three layers. Add 1/2 cup water or bouillon, throw in a teaspoon of whole allspice and sprinkle generously with paprika. Bring to a boil and then simmer until potatoes are tender, about an hour.