I can't remember exactly when our eating habits at home changed but it's got something to do with fostering.
Way back, like most young families, you could knock up a meal and everyone would eat it. Portions would vary according to age, and sometimes someone would have to have beans instead of tomatoes.
Tomatoes, if I remember correctly, were about the only really upsetting item for young ones.
I didn't bother with the other things children hate such as parsnips or liver, I'm no great fan myself.
Mushrooms are a grown-up taste too. That was about it, unless my memory is playing up.
No-one had heard of food allergies, no-one was on a complicated diet, no-one was vegetarian, at least not in our house.
When I started in fostering the menu went;
Monday - cold boiled potatoes and bits of lamb left over from the Sunday roast, frozen peas and a pudding.
Tuesday - sausages, boiled potatoes and baked beans + pudding.
etc, through to
Friday; Fishfingers and er...boiled potatoes and frozen sweetcorn + pudding.
I think I'm right in saying the first dent in the regime was pudding, which vanished from the menu mainly so that people could get down from the table all the quicker and get on with TV.
Then pasta appeared. And pizza. And curries. And with curries came rice.
Followed by quickie things such as chicken dippers, hamburgers and oven chips.
So much variety! It wasn't long before variety led to...fads. Picky habits...
Which in no time meant, for the cook, that instead of boiling enough potatoes, two sausages each and a pan of peas, you end up, as I did last Friday;
Roast chicken wings in sweet chilli sauce with oven French fries fried rather than baked because fried oven chips taste and appear more like the McDonalds.
Baked cheese and tomato pizza (vegetarian) with cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks.
A bowl of Alpro soya yoghurt (dairy free) with soft fruit and gluten-free granola (calorie controlled meal)
While me and the other half had takeaway fish and chips. Otherwise it could easily have been five different meals (we've only got four gas rings, one oven and a microwave).
It's changed, the whole thing of family mealtime, because even if I can time all the meals to be ready at the same moment, everyone is so doing their own thing food-wise it's almost putting a wedge between us all even if we're squashed round the same table.
Of course we do eat together a lot (Sunday roast is enjoyed by all, as long as there's a quorn alternative for one).
But it's changed, has family eating. For the better? Well, foster children have usually a history of problems with food. It might have been that they never saw a meal cooked in their house or maybe sometimes food wasn't available. I had one child who had food used as a punishment.
We have to do our best for them, and that means sucking up changes. Mealtimes are a happier business with everyone's needs given a bit of thought and kindness.
Same with family screen time; not long ago we'd all watch Neighbours together, scoff the same meal together, then watch the Crystal Maze together.
Nowadays we eat differently, then go off to different corners of the house and do a bit of homework then dial up our best new friend in Ontario.
I texted one of mine not long ago to say tea was ready, come and get it. Easier than shouting up the stairs and anyway she would have had headphones on.
As long as they're (reasonably) happy, I'm happy. As long as they go on making small progressions I'm over the moon.