Saving money is good, as it is much cheaper than eating out or ordering in. Along with that is the opportunity to connect with your family. Whether it’s having the kids help to cook, set the table and/or clean up, spending time together is key to connecting with them on school, friends and other situations.
Here are a few ideas to get you going on the path to quick & easy mealtimes.
- Take a couple hours on the weekend to cook a big pot of vegetable soup. It’s easy to make and very nutritious. Get the kids involved with prepping: washing or chopping veggies. Let them taste and “advise “ on seasonings. Add meats or pasta/rice as desired. Serve the soup as a main course one evening with canned biscuits or packaged cornbread. Another night that week team a cup of the soup up with hot dogs or grilled cheese sandwiches or a fresh green salad.Not into making soup? No problem. There are many tasty canned soups on the grocery shelf. See which ones your family likes and stock up. Also consider packaged noodle soups adding some frozen or canned corn, peas or other veggies to add interest & nutrition. Toss in a salad bar for variety along with French rolls or frozen bread sticks. Bagged salad greens are a boon for good & easy salad fare.
- Everyone likes pasta! If you have a package of pasta and a jar of sauce in the pantry…you’ve got dinner anytime! Frozen ravioli or tortellini are yummy and come in cheese or meat selections. Once again…add a salad and you’ve got dinner. You could also add a nice baguette of French bread. Don’t forget the Parmesan cheese as a topping.
- How about pizza? Buy frozen pizza to pop in the oven for a quick & easy meal. Or buy readymade crusts and let the kids add the sauce and meats, veggies and cheeses. Smaller individual crusts are fun too and each child can “decorate” their own. Add a salad of fresh or frozen green beans tossed with Italian dressing. Most kids don’t get many vegetables during the day.
- Prep a pot of chili in the slow cooker before leaving for the day. Then come home to easily prepare a meal of chilidogs or taco salad or burritos (add canned refried beans). Or have a “make your own taco” night using readymade shells or soft tacos in tortillas warmed in the microwave. Add a boxed Spanish rice mix and ole’…dinner. You could use canned chili too. It is sold with or without beans, vegetarian or with beef or chicken. Take your choice. Without beans is great for chilidogs.
- Burgers and fries? No problem. Buy pre-made hamburgers or turkey burgers (fresh or frozen) and a bag of frozen French fries. Toss them both in the oven while you get the condiments ready and set the table. Cheese slices, tomatoes and lettuce complete the burgers. Eat your heart out Burger King.
See, it CAN be done…..easily & much more nutritious. Kids can help with all of these meals. Older kids can help cook. Invite the kids to choose a favorite meal and they get to be the chef that night. Younger kids can help with the salad prep, grating cheese, setting the table and retrieving condiments from the cupboard and refrigerator.
All can help to clean up! Bon Appetit’.
Ann Gambrell July 2014