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.