Every week it's the same.
I'm not writing a book, a blog post or even a letter.
All I am trying to do is to plan our meals for the week and write a sodding shopping list.
It shouldn't be this hard. I've seen other people manage it. Why can't I?
Mind you it's hardly surprising given the number of food related rules my family impose upon me.
I used to think they weren't particularly fussy about food but they are. Here are the basics:
Child one: won't eat chicken nuggets - too babyish
Child two: doesn't like anything with a creamy sauce on it, or custard
Child three: won't eat potatoes but likes chips and mashed potatoes (don't ask)
Child four: doesn't like tomato sauces or jam but does like gravy (gravy and sauce - the same surely?)
Child five: won't eat pasta (what child doesn't eat pasta FFS?), or pizza
All of them have some kind of aversion to various types of vegetable.
So you see, I have my work cut out before I even start thinking about writing a shopping list. Let alone setting foot in a supermarket.
All I want to be able to do is to feed everyone the same meal. A meal that is easy to cook would be a bonus. It's just that nothing in my culinary repertoire fits.
I am beginning to see why Kerry Katona, Coleen Nolan, Stacy Soloman and Peter Andre all buggered off to Iceland to be honest. The thought of opening my freezer and emptying the contents of a packet into a pan is quite appealing right now. (Although I do occasionally do this already, I'll admit - that's the real reason why mums go to Iceland, for an easy life.)
Planning meals for my family has become less about the enjoyment of food and more about damage limitation and probability. That's the probability of which meals will yield the largest quantity of eaters and the least damage to my eardrums when the rest chorus that they don't like it.
As I start to write, I start to plan - if three will eat this then the other two can have something else. If DH and I eat later then the teen can join us on these two nights and maybe the preteen too (provided no cream in the sauce). Looking at it written down I think I am nearly there.
Except instead of a meal plan it looks rather like a series of food orders, complete with numbers of portions written in the margin. I feel a bit like the hired help.
I bet Mrs Patmore never had to put up with any of this nonsense at Downton.
And, I don't really want to limit us all to more than one or two meals a week courtesy of Captain Birdseye if I can help it. Tempting as it is.
They will all eat homemade soup and so I write that down too - although it's hard to say how many will eat it rather than pretending to eat it. They will probably just fill up on the accompanying bread.
What to have at the weekend? Sunday lunch, the biggest meal. They like roast chicken but DH isn't keen. We all love beef casserole, courtesy of a Saint Jamie of Oliver recipe book *crosses self*. Something to please everyone in there. The weeks when I could have cheerfully kissed that man on his big rubbery lips are countless - he has saved me on many an occasion. But, we've had that meal two weeks on the bounce now. Three may be pushing it.
Another roast of some sort then. Honestly I have no idea any more. Maybe I'll just wing it (it's a speciality of mine).
Taking the list, I write the most important thing in big letters.
Off to the shops I head, armed with my bags for life.
Wish me luck. I'll need it.