Dinner at 4pm: Are you raising 80 year old children?


Dinner at 4pm, are you mad? Seriously, the only people who eat dinner at 4pm are those living in retirement homes. At least that was what I thought in the past, (in fact, one of my Sheroes does this and I thought she was crazy) but I recently had a change of heart.  It all occurred one afternoon when my youngest asked for her 3rd afterschool snack in an hour. This got me thinking, why do we eat when we eat? Who established those times? And why do we follow an agenda that doesn’t suit our lifestyle? The answers to these questions brought about one of the biggest game changers in our meal schedule since eliminating that midnight feeding when the children were babies. The 4pm dinner!

So, after giving my daughter her 3rd afterschool snack in an hour’s time, two things occurred to me; one, she had just eaten the equivalent of her dinner, and two, in two hours when it was dinner time she would more than likely eat nothing because she will be full from all her snacking.  Having one child not eat their dinner is annoying, but all three, that’s just darn right frustrating. I starting have a sense of defeat. Why bother prepping and making all these healthy meals if the kids aren’t even going to eat them! I had grown sick and tired of wasting good food and money, something needed to change! And change it did. I managed to remove my heart and emotion for the situation and got down to the logistics. Why are the kids so famished after school? They have breakfast around 7:30am, lunch almost exactly 4 hours later, around 11:30am, and 4 hours after lunch is when they get home from school. But instead of being fed a meal at that time I give them apple slices that are supposed to tie them over until 6:30pm, that’s 7 hours between lunch and dinner, and to be honest sometimes dinner was even later than that depending on extracurricular activities. Why?….

Why do we eat when we eat, why eat dinner at 6:30pm/7pm? When I was a child we always ate dinner when dad came home and my parents did the same when they were children, so on and so forth. But that was also back in the pre-computer, web-conferencing, facetime, texting/cell phone era when parents were officially clocked out at 5pm or 6pm. A lot has changed since then and yet we are still maintaining that same time schedule.

Who established dinner time? I suppose I did, I set the meal time schedule. I like the idea of us all sitting down as a family, saying the prayer, breaking bread together, and sharing the happenings of each other’s day.

Why do we follow an agenda that doesn’t suit our lifestyle? One word, tradition, tradition says that the family sits and eats dinner together when the dad gets home from work. But here’s the thing, after the children have each had 3 afterschool snacks and 6:30pm rolls around, not only does no one eat but often times we have to go somewhere- religious education classes, Boy Scouts, basketball practice/game, or some other school/church activity. And what’s more, since my husband changed jobs two years ago he travels a lot which means often times he isn’t in town or at least not home in time for dinner. And yet there I was still sticking to a tradition.

Solution: Serve dinner when everyone is hungry, when they will eat the healthy meal that I have prepared. Serve dinner when there is time, time to sit before running off to another activity. But what about the family table, praying, breaking bread, sharing? We can do that earlier, or, even better, 4 hours after dinner and after those extracurricular activities the children’s bellies usually have room for a small snack before bed. Thus, the family table is quite suitable for an evening snack & chat before getting ready for bed- and if dad is in town he can join us. (This might mean giving up your screen time in the evening, do it!! This was another HUGE game changer to our evening routine that we adopted a couple years ago).

So it turns out all those folks in the retirement homes were onto something. The 4pm dinner and 8pm snack has been quite accommodating to our busy lifestyle and best of all the healthy, good food, and money spent on said food don’t go to waste. In fact we are having quite the opposite problem; there are no leftovers for the next day. What a magnificent problem. Then they are often off to an activity and return home for a delicious snack before bedtime.

Here are some examples of the snacks we enjoy:

Strawberry & Banana Smoothie (Kiddos’ Snack-Paleo(ish) Greek Yogurt is debatable)

snack

Ingredients:

1 Banana- sliced

2 Cups Frozen Strawberries

1 Cup Greek Yogurt

1 Cup Coconut Milk

2 Tablespoons Honey

Instructions: Blend everything together and serve. If you wish you could also place in a frozen safe dish and freeze overnight and have yummy frozen yogurt the next day.

Avocado Love (Sugar Free)

snack3

1 Avocado, ¼ cup cucumber slices, & 4 cherry tomatoes sliced -drizzled with garlic olive oil (Bumble Olive Oil Company) and then topped with a bit of pepper. (Mom’s snack-sugar free)

Buffalo-ish Cauliflower (For everyone! Sugar Free!!Buffalo sauce is on the side since it is too spicy for some of the kiddos)

snack2

Ingredients:

One Head Cauliflower cut into bite sizes

1 Cup water

1 Cup Almond Flour

Salt & Pepper to taste

½ cup Red Hot

1 Tablespoon Kerrygold Butter

Instructions:

Combine water and almond flour into a batter. Coat each cauliflower in batter and then place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees then flip each and bake for an additional 10 minutes until each is slightly brown and crispy looking.

While baking place Red Hot and butter in pan on top of stove, heat till butter is melted.

If you are not sharing this amazing dish with kids then brush buffalo sauce over cauliflower bites and place back in the oven for 8 minutes until the buffalo sauce is absorbed and cauliflower is crispy.

Salad Love (Sugar Free)

snack6

Eggs, avocados, cucumber slices, and red & orange pepper slices in garlic olive oil-a.k.a. a salad (Mostly moms snack but once mom starts eating it everyone wants some, go figure! Lol! This is a sugar free snack)

Blueberry & Strawberry Smoothie (Kids’ snack-Paleo)

snack5

Ingredients:

2 Cups Frozen Strawberries

1 Cup frozen Blueberries

½ cup hot water (otherwise everything freezes together in the blender)

1 Tablespoons Honey (Optional)

Instructions:

Blend 😉

Carrot Candy (Kids’ Snack-Paleo)

snack4

Ingredients:

8 Carrot’s sliced into small bite sizes

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt to taste

Instructions:

Place sliced carrots in bowl, pour olive oil in bowl and toss until all slices are coated. Place slices on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool then devour-kiddos say they taste like candy.

Have you ever considered altering your meal schedule?

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