Hunger Games

As a single working mother, I always needed ideas on how to build our lives as a family unit. But, as working mothers know, life is all about deadlines. The children would let themselves into the house with their own key, complete their homework – or not. Watch pretty much what they pleased on television and eat the food kept for them. It was a nightmare.

Hunger Games by Ritu Lalit

I would come back tired and irritable to a house where things were scattered, homework was not done and dinner had to be cooked.

For a time I became Monster Mom. One day the boys cooked dinner, they were twelve and four at that time. Dinner was peanut butter and jam sandwiches, sweetly served on a dining table smeared with jam and peanut butter, with a smile. “Ma, we want you to sit with us and not get angry.”

I could have snapped, but the proud smiles and love stopped me. I am glad it did. That night I realized that what was going wrong with us was simple, we had stopped having fun together. So the games began.

Every evening we would cook together. Simple meals that even a four year old could participate in. It was great bonding, and I am reaping the benefit of those days even now. We still sit down and shell peas together or peel boiled potatoes, when our schedules match.

One favorite was chicken noodle soup. It has chicken and noodles, both things that the kids loved, and it’s a great participatory activity.

I would boil the chicken in the morning and go to work. In the evening the boys would shred it and de-bone it. Yes even the four year old, while I chopped the vegetables and boiled the noodles. Then I would make the soup while they would complete their home work.

An easy chicken noodle soup recipe

1 tbsp butter, half chopped onion, one Maggi Chicken cube, half Maggi vegetable cube, half kg chicken boiled and shredded, a small bunch coriander, some oregano for taste, one and a half cup egg noodles. Salt and pepper to taste.

In large pot melt butter, cook onion in butter, add chicken, carrot, oregano, salt and pepper. Let it simmer until home work is done (half an hour). One a hungry day, toast some bread to go with the soup.

Some profound and rib tickling observations are spouted in such situations that are really enjoyable.

Kid#1 : When I grow up I shall be the main cooker
Kid#2 : Then I will marry you.
Kid#1 : Boys don’t marry boys.
Kid#2 : In that case, I will starve to death. Girls in my class don’t cook. Ma, you won’t grow old and die will you?
Both Kid#1 and me : All you can think about is your tummy!

Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan.  She is a single parent and blogs at


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  • Awww!! This is such a warm anecdote Ritu. Loved reading it.

    • Thank you, parenting is a warm sort of thing.

      • Suja Mohan

        “parenting is a warm sort of thing”
        thats a gr8 statement…

  • 🙂

  • Nidhi

    Such a heart warming post – and I’ll be trying out that recipe 🙂

    • Do let me know how you find it, it is basic and such a comfort food

  • Suja Mohan

    So sweet Ritu…loved the part where they made the sandwiches…
    reminded me of my son helping me inthe kitchen,making dosas…would make perfect dosas. like Kid #2 said…my daughter wasnt too keen on entering the kitchen those days.
    Psssst Ritu…noodles didn’t get a chance to perform in the noodle soup 😛

    • A soul warming post. Yes, sometimes we puff out the stress on our children and then repent.

      In my home too, cooking during vacations is a family exercise and this is theraupetic. My son was perhaps 7(now 13) and my dot around the same age(now 15) when they learnt to cook. just yesterday, we made veg sizzler. I too have made a similar post last year called budding chefs to gourmet gurus.

      • Sizzler is something I havent tried at all. Baking is something we do, very often Asha

    • Well spotted Suja. I actually boil and drain noodles, keep them seperately. When serving, I place a bit of the noodles in each soup bowl and pour the soup over it. Garnish with dhania and lemon grass

      • Suja Mohan

        i religiously note down most ‘tried nd tested’ recipes that friends post.

  • That was a reminder for me not to snap too much. Yes, you are absolutely right, the kitchen might turn messy, but the hearts definitely grow fond 🙂

    • Kitchens can be cleaned. And very soon you can allocate cooking days to the kids, and catch up with your reading or tv while they rustle up a meal

  • A family that cooks together has the most profound and rib tickling moments.(new version of the old proverb) 😉

  • I know what I am doing the day i land at delhi airport 🙂

    hope you rememeber 🙂

    • Welcome hai jee. Do come over, now the IG airport is hardly twenty minutes from my home. So its easy too

  • Cooking is most De-stressing activity I used to believe, when I never had to cook daily. But yes, with family pitching in the adventure begins. Thanks for sharing Ritu, warm moments cooked slowly 🙂

    • Little kids, boys and girls, love to participate in such activity. My sons bake, cook and even make paranthas when they want now. It is liberating for me

  • Gita

    This is such a sweet lil activity….making kids do things along with you!! My lil one is so much fond of shaping the cookies with me and sticking a nut on it! He also loves the way an omelet spreads in the pan! Sweet lil joys!! Loved your say on this! 🙂

    • Mine would roll out rotis too, uneven and in all sorts of shapes. They loved to slap down the makki ki rotis into some sort of shape and make me fry it for them. Then they would eat their own rotis with such pride

  • Swaram

    Loved this one Ritu 🙂

  • Such a sweet post! All that love made the food extra tasty, no doubt!

    • I guess so, it definitely made us bond well

  • Rachna Parmar

    Such a lovely anecdote. My son has just learnt how to make tea and is raring to try his hand at other things. Of course, he can make maggi, who can’t? 🙂

  • Cute 🙂

  • Nowadays I am making pastas for my family on weekends. My parents absolutely abhored the white sauce. I tried red sauce last weekend and they loved it. The maid went crazy.
    This was a nice heartwarming post Ritu.

  • Loved reading this Ritu! Heart warming and awe inspiring !!