It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school and things are becoming more chaotic by the day. The last thing any of us want to hear at the end of the day is the screeching, “What’s for dinner!!??”
Here are six kid approved dinners that you can make affordable, healthy, and quickly. Although obviously choices, they are so obvious you may have forgotten about them.
Meatballs and Meatloaf
These two go hand in hand because you can make them in bulk, at the same time, and they are freezer friendly. Get a nice combination of ground meat and/ or sausage (pick what’s on sale or use something you bought on sale that’s in the freezer) and get started. After a little Parmesan, some egg and breadcrumbs, you can add in some extras. Get indulgent and throw in some cooked, chopped bacon. Or sneak in some sauteed spinach. Pull these out and all that’s left to do is boil some pasta and heat some sauce, or roast some veggies and microwave some mashed potatoes.
Lets get beyond the white bread an ‘american slices’, shall we? This dinner is so kid approved it’s not even funny, but you can dress it up so that it’s a treat for parents too. Snag that loaf of fluffy Italian bread you bought the other week in the Bakery from the ‘Manager’s Special’ shelf. Yes, the loaf of bread you bought for cheap because it was eighteen hours away from being “stale”, it was half price, and you were shopping while you were hungry. Slice that up and let the kids assemble their own sandwiches. Offer up the old standby, American cheese, but make sure you put some other goodies out, too. Bacon, avocado, tomato slices, apple slices, that deli meat that isn’t enough to make a whole sandwich. Get crazy with the cheese, too. Provolone, mozzarella, cheddar, Muenster, go crazy. Don’t forget to raid the door of the fridge for all those bottles of dipping sauces that only have a tablespoon left in them.
Another ‘some assembly required’ meal that the kids will love to help with. If you’re not into the cans of pre-packaged pizza dough (I think the thin crust is the least of all the evils), defrost the loaf of frozen Italian bread you bought from the ‘Manager’s Special’ shelf and slice it in half lengthwise. What, am I the only one who buys all those loaves of cheap bread and freezes them? Here’s another opportunity to get those veggies in. Let the kids do some marinara and mozzarella on theirs When they see your half, with ricotta, spinach, leftover roasted broccoli and mozzarella, they’ll be flipping their lids. Okay, maybe not. But you can offer to share that spinach and broccoli. It just might work.
I’m afraid to mention you can serve this with that bread… Nevermind. You got the idea. Soups are crock-pot and freezer friendly and a great way to take advantage of in season veggies when they are at their peak and most affordable. A lot also offer the opportunity to add cheese to which is the best way to get my kids to eat anything. Broccoli, squash, cauliflower, potato. So many soups, so many ways and all you have to do is reheat.
Again with the ‘some assembly required’ but this is what ‘they’ are talking about when ‘they say, “Get the kids involved in the meal.” You can make your filling with whatever ground meat you chose, beef, chicken or turkey. If you’re ambitious, find your own taco seasoning and premix it. Hack up some lettuce, tomato, and olives and throw down with some sour cream and cheese. This one is a little more work but can really be prepped ahead of time. My kids also dig making their own plate of nachos. I’m assuming because it sounds more appealing but really, it’s the same thing.
Mac and Cheese
Another crock pot friendly meal and another one you can get versatile with if you think outside the box (see what I did there). Mac and cheese is the perfect opportunity to boil some vegetables in chicken broth (think cauliflower, parsnips, butternut squash or pumpkin), puree them, and then sneak them into the cheese sauce. Serve this up with a salad or roasted veggies and you’re done.
If you’ve reached the bottom of this post and you’re mad because there are no measurements or cooking times, I apologize. I have found that weeknight dinners should be about healthy, easy, delicious, comfortable food that can be adjusted on the fly. Try as I may to deny it, Pinterest is a great way to keep track of recipes, try them, and then make them your own. I hope that you can find your basics and then have some fun in the kitchen a few nights a week. When time with the kids is at a premium, dinner shouldn’t be dreadful. It should be fun.
You can find Maura at Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide, on Facebook.com/playpenipg, on Twitter @playpenipg and Pinterest.com/playpenipg