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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Making Family Meals Work When You Work Nights

By Sandi Haustein 
Photos by Patti Hartog

When work schedules make life interesting, it takes creativity and intentionality to create special family mealtimes. Just ask Joseph and Emily Gould and their three sons, Austin (9), David (6), and Logan (2), who live in Hikes Point.

Joseph, a supply chain supervisor, works nights from 4pm until 1am; he leaves for work before his kids get home from school and is asleep when they leave in the morning. “It’s tough having an odd schedule,” says Emily, who works part-time as a legal secretary. “When it comes to meals, you have to do whatever works best for your family.”

One way Emily makes meals work for her family is by making lunch the main meal of the day for her and Joseph. It makes the most sense, she says, so that Joseph eats at least one hot meal a day. To make this happen, Emily plans ahead. Before she goes to bed at night, she pulls chicken breasts or a roast out of the freezer and puts together a meal in the crockpot to cook overnight. The food is ready by noon so that, most days, she and Joseph can eat lunch together with their son, Logan.

Emily Gould preps chicken quesadillas for a family meal.

With Dad gone in the evenings, Emily keeps dinnertime quick and easy for her and the boys. Often she has tuna melts or mac and cheese ready when Austin and David get home from school. By 5:30pm, they are done eating, and they have the evening free to do homework, play, and take baths.

Joseph and Emily Gould with their three sons Austin (9), David (6), and Logan (2).

Everyone looks forward to the weekends when Dad is home. But while it's good to be together for a family meal, Emily admits that Saturday lunch can be a little chaotic, especially when you add in their dog, Harley, who likes to steal food from the table. "With three boys and a dog, mealtime is all about crowd control," she says. Between reminders about table manners, yelling at Harley to get down, and the general noise of three kids and their sound effects, Emily and Joseph often breathe a sigh of relief when lunch is over. The family enjoys spending quality time together all Saturday, but the highlight of the weekend is ordering a pizza and renting a movie from Redbox on Saturday night. “It’s just good to be together after Joseph hasn’t seen the kids all week,” Emily says.

Mealtimes can get a little chaotic in the Gould house, between the noise of three boys and the antics of their dog Harley.

After eating Sunday lunch together and spending the evening with their community group from church, the Goulds start their week all over again. While it isn’t easy, Emily and her family find ways to make life work with a nontraditional schedule. And along the way, they’ve learned that creating memories and making the most of their time together is what matters most.

The Goulds' Favorite Chicken Quesadillas

The Goulds’ Favorite Chicken Quesadillas 
4-5 chicken breasts 
1/2 - 1 block of cream cheese 
1 can of Rotel or salsa 
1 package of tortillas 
1 package of shredded cheddar cheese 

Directions: 1. Put chicken, cream cheese, and rotel in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours. 2. Shred the chicken and add in enough liquid to moisten (or until it’s your desired consistency). 3. Butter two tortillas and add cheese and chicken mixture between them. 4. Cook in a skillet on each side, flipping carefully, until tortillas are crispy.

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