When cooking for your family, do you cook based on your taste or for others?
Do you cater to people's tastes or just serve them the food prepared as you would think it tastes best? What about the meal balance, ie. if you don't care for meat that much do you still make an effort to have it at most meals if that's what they want?
I really try to cover everyone, and sometimes it works better than others. My SO has a strong aversion to shellfish, while the rest of the family loves it. My son-in-law has a similarly strong aversion to cheese, which, again, everyone else loves. We also have toddlers who can't deal with anything spicy, but we don't want to train them to eat only "kid food," which, IMHO, makes kids impossible at the table by the time they get to be about 4 yo. And, there are also diet considerations, i.e., we all could afford to lose a few pounds. Having said all that, I generally try to make meals that I like first, but that others will also like. If the person with the strong aversions just *happens* to be away that night, well, party down with those scallops or cheese! I have a few things that are safe standards: roasted veggies, big salads that include goodies like fruit, nuts, and some protein, along with really good olive oil, and some kind of poultry, fish, or meat, that can be done pretty quickly. Chiles can always be served on the side, along with some grated cheese. And, I've found that if I'm cooking with care, and good ingredients, people are generally happy, no matter what it is.
I generally cook to my tastes and preferences, with the exception of heat levels (spiciness, that is). My daughter cannot take any food that is more than about medium-hot, so I have to tone things down a bit if I want her to eat.
There is 3 of us, my wife, our 2 year old daughter, and me. Luckily we all have very similar tastes. During the week we eat dinner together each night, and on the weekends just lunch and dinner.
We eat meat with every meal, and we all enjoy beef, pork, chicken, etc. We all also enjoy seafood(crab, fish, lobster, crawfish, etc). Meals are balanced with a salad, a vegetable, and a starch. Our 2 year old toddler eats everything we eat, and feeds herself off her own plate with her own fork.
The only thing I do different than if I was just cooking something for myself is to tone down the heat level on some foods, I can always add hot sauce later.
When I plan a family dinner (meaning Sunday / special occasion dinner) I usually do take others preferences into account. I usually try to do one unusual type of dish and then one every day type of dish. For instance, if the theme is Italian, I will do osso bucco and meatballs in marinara. Sometimes, I will just spice up a chicken and roast it.
I usualy try to plan 2 mains, one starch, 2 veg, salad and two desserts. My family is fairly large and I love leftovers, so this works for me.
My wife only likes white meat chicken and seafood for animal based protien.
I used to franken cook, where I would take the things I liked, such as spicy food, beef, pork, and then just sub out the things my wife didn't like for things she did, chicken, shrimp, mild spicies. The results were generally... unispiring. Within a year we were pretty damn sick of chicken and shrimp. now I think both of our tastes have adjusted a bit, and I got over my belief that every meal needed meat.
Our meals are now 90% of the time vegitarian, with lots of beans, rice, eggplant and garlic. If there' nice fish at the market, or a sale on chicken that reaches the plate, and when we do have animal protien, it get's lavished with attention, to make sure it's perfectly spiced and delicious. I still make things too spicy for her sometimes though lol, I have to work on that one. I've stopped buying shrimp out of ecological concerns.
I'm sure that will all get thrown out the window again when we have kids, heh.
In my household, it is me, my bf and an intern from another country. I usually wind up making whatever I want for dinner, but I try to cater to their tastes. So if I feel like having tacos one night I will make them like I want them, but I won't make them spicy because the intern doesn't like spicy food.
The only problems arise when I do not have a definite plan for dinner, and I go to the grocery store to pick out something that looks good. Usually whatever looks good is whatever the intern will not eat, he is a picky eater. So I tend to save the things that he will not eat for the weekends when I am not cooking for him.
I am not a huge fan of meat and I really don't crave it that much. I do make an effort to serve it at dinner, but I also make an effort to serve meatless dishes as well. We have a meatless dinner at least once a week. If I am not in the mood for meat that night, but don't want to make a meatless dinner two nights in a row, I try to make something like a stir fry where I can pick out more veggies for myself and leave them with more meat.
I absolutely cook with an eye toward who will be eating the meal with me. Most of the time there's only two of us here and we both like the same foods, and hot and spicy seasonings. But when others are sharing the meal with us I will consider likes and dislikes and adjust the menu accordingly. It just seems like the right thing to do.
Within reason I always try to make sure I'm not going to serve someone something they really dislike. My husband hates all gourds and most soft cheeses. I don't serve him either, and when he's out of town (at least 2 weeks/month) I eat all of the eggplant, squash, and cheese I want.
As for meat, neither of us eat meat any longer, but when we first married my husband did. He also doesn't cook. The first year we were married I attempted to cook a turkey, without tasting, which was pretty disastrous. So I don't cook anything I won't eat!
All of my in-laws come over once a year for homemade pizza. It's a family recipe with an Italian sausage sauce. We start both sauces and when my BIL arrives he finishes the meat sauce. Works out well for everyone!
Day to day meals for hubbie and myself are definately cooked to his tastes. Our tastes are so different that most things cooked to my taste he wouldn't eat and there's no sense in wasting food. Fortunately I like all sorts of things so cooking for his tastes does include me. The down side is that it is limited and lacks excitement. I admit - I miss my tastes !
I plan meals and everyone gets a chance to tell me what they want. If they don't, then it's up to me. If I'm fixing something I know someone in my family won't like, I'll do it when they are gone, or fix something else for them. I try to make it as balanced as possible, but not always. As for how it tastes, I cook to my taste and if they need more seasoning they can add it ,but they rarely do. Of course my kids help alot, so they taste and tell me what they think.