Christina M. Currie: Why not cereal for dinner?

“Mom, I want a snack,” is what I heard before we even got through the front door and just as I was about to start yelling about the coats and backpacks that strewn across the entryway.

Mommy’s going to make dinner in just a minute, I said, carefully making my way through the after-school minefield of shoes, books, toys, coats, blankets and backpacks — you know, all the stuff on the school supply list.

“I’m not hungry,” was the reply.

I wasn’t sure whether I was too tired to follow or whether I was encountering another example of 5-year-old logic.

I’ve learned that countering with a little logic of my own — you know, if you’re hungry enough to eat a snack, you’re hungry enough for dinner — is a waste of what little energy I’ve got left.

So I just started making dinner. Well, thinking about it anyway. I’m not sure why I told Katie no. Surely, some baked crackers or yogurt has more nutritional value than the hot dog and macaroni and cheese I was offering. Certainly, there are snacks healthier than the frozen pizza I served the night before.

Meals don’t seem to be my thing. It’s not that I can’t cook (though my children may argue that point), it’s that I’m generally lacking some important ingredients to any recipe — time and energy.

By the time I stumble through the door, even fixing a bowl of cereal seems beyond my capabilities.

If restaurants/caterers/grocery stores really wanted to make a killing — they’d take another look at the overworked-mother market. You know — those women who don’t have the time to whip up a hearty meal or even the foresight to thaw a pound of hamburger for whatever Helper is in the cupboard.

My dream is a freezer full of home cooked casseroles that only need attention from a hot oven. You know, the kind in which the vegetables are disguised by a savory sauce and that have no onions, but a hint of their flavor.

Yes, I realize there are entire grocery store aisles dedicated to the time/energy/know-how challenged, but I’m loathe to set that in front of my children. I would feel, at that point, as if I’d failed motherhood entirely.

Yes, I understand there’s a little hypocrisy there. I guess I don’t have to feed my children something I actually made, but I’d like to know that what I give them is something I could have actually made given different circumstances.

I’d also like to know that the nutritional value outweighs the level of preservatives.

Picky, aren’t I?

I comb cookbooks and Web sites looking for the perfect recipe. And, I’ve found some good ones, but they’ve all got one fatal flaw — no matter how little time they take, it still seems like too much (mostly because I always double what they say the preparation time is).

I really understand the value of cultures that value their elderly. Right now, my house could use a grandmother — the kind who can take the leftovers from three meals, half a chicken breast and some minute rice and turn it into a roast beef dinner. I swear that’s what my great-grandmother used to do. Then again, she told me one time that the biscuits she was known for were Pillsbury and the reason she got up so early to make them was to smear flour on the cutting board and around the rim of a biscuit cutter before anyone else woke up.

I never even learned how to fake it. Until I do, it’s still cereal for dinner.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or

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