Compromise in the Kitchen


As primary meal planner and cook for my family of varied tastes and diets, I often feel like the ambassador to the UN. By that I mean the culinary demands of one are in conflict with those of another more often than not. Food diplomacy is among my many roles.

Let’s begin with my kids.Though both like vegetables, one insists they be served raw (and absolutely no onions!) while the other only wants them sautéed. (And don’t forget the onions!) One thing they do agree on is pasta and breads, both of which they love. Up until a year or two ago, we had many pasta-based dinners. And then my husband began a gluten-free diet. The diet has been great for his turbulent tummy but challenging for my meal planning. 

And me? I am trying to stick to lean meats for health and environmental reasons. How do I get everyone to eat a square meal without needing to cook four different dinners at the same time?

Though not always possible, being creative with food substitutes helps me in this endeavor. I have figured out a few tricks and recipes to make the puzzle simpler.

yellow onions
Photo by Lars Blankers on Unsplash

1. I make ahead a large batch of pasta that I can use for two purposes. One of my kids likes to take pasta in a thermos for lunch.  I can then use some for a spaghetti dinner on a different night.  My main meal preparation on our “spaghetti night” consists of me steaming a spaghetti squash and making a homemade marinara sauce.  The kids will eat the leftover spaghetti with the fresh sauce while my husband and I eat the substitute spaghetti squash with the sauce over the top.  I am hoping someday the boys will also substitute with the healthier spaghetti squash but for now everyone is getting something that provides sustenance.

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