Food in transition

I told someone this week that we are busier post 2020 than we were before and I wonder if that busy-ness was in reaction to the lack of activity in 2020. It could also be just because my kids are older, too.

I was spoiled by that time of being able to plan a menu for the week and have everyone together to eat it, grocery substitutions notwithstanding.

But now … I never actually know who will be home for dinner, and often the answer seems to be no one.

Feeding people who aren’t home is not inspiring.

Feeding those who are at home favorites of the one who isn’t is a struggle – both emotionally for me and sadness for them.

I’ve considered some options. No one really wants the main meal during the mid-day, and between jobs and college that doesn’t solve the main problem either.

I also acknowledge that it won’t be long before I’m cooking for just two; and after 20 years of cooking for 5 that will be a shock to the system.

So … do you have favorite ways to feed 5 people who are are spinning around one another? Leftovers generally get eaten; leftovers that can be packed in a lunchbox are even better.

I probably just need to get over myself.


  1. Maybe choose meals that are conducive to being kept in a crockpot on the warm setting? That way, for when the kids do get back, they still have a hot meal waiting for them? I don’t have any suggestions right off the top of my head other than soup.

  2. Can you and your family members agree on at least one meal a week that you’ll all commit to being home and make a bigger deal with that one meal (family favorites, etc)?

  3. No recommendation since I’m still cooking for littles, but this post is a great reminder to me to enjoy these years and not rush for them to get older (even with all of the crumbs on the floor after every meal.) Thank you for that. I do hope you find a good balance for you all as you transition into this new phase.

  4. This is an emotional transition. Over the past few years we have gone from a family table of 10 to 4. There are two that are working, going to college are never here at mealtime. I cook a family meal and they grab leftovers or not. It’s a little sad, but they are in the launch transition.

  5. Food transitions are hard. I’m still either cooking too much or not enough. Favorites that I make extras for lunches, often get forgotten in the fridge.

    One thing that had helped is trying to have on hand the ingredients for meals that the teens/adults like to make. Sometimes they’ll cook spontaneously when they are ready to eat (with enough made for the rest.) Other times we plan for them to cook.

    We have a lot more “choose your own adventure” meals of leftovers (or whatever you make yourself — PB&J, etc.)

    At one point (due to other reasons), I made a list of the five meals that required the least amount of kitchen time. Think about those for you, and you’ll be ready to fit in the cooking when people are unexpectedly home or when y’all are out most of the day.

    But yeah… It’s hard. And weirdly emotional.

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