Busy? Itâ€™s that time of year. Here are five quick, healthy dinner ideas that get young children fed on the double. They may not be grandmaâ€™s pot roast, but these meals will get you through five busy weekdays.
1. Chicken and carrot sticks.
The chicken breasts that come individually wrapped may cost more per pound, but the savings that come from cooking only what you need can make up for it. Nothing hurts the grocery budget quite so much as food scraped into the garbage. The individually wrapped chicken breasts cook in ten minutes and in a good non-stick pan with no scratches, they donâ€™t even need oil. Otherwise, cook a whole package of chicken and use the leftovers later in the week. Serve with a handful of baby carrots and ketchup for dipping. Try something different with BBQ or duck sauce.
2. All-dip dinner.
This meal is not only quick and fun, but it is also full of vegetables kids will actually eat. Pick the dips. Hummus, guacamole, salsa and onion dip are all popular with kids. Check the frozen food section of the supermarket for spinach and artichoke dip. Next, pick the dippers. A bag of pita chips and a bag of baby carrots are probably enough. Think outside the box, though. Small children are not the slaves of food conventions that adults are. Rolled-up slices of turkey might taste great with onion dip, and your preschooler is just the person to find out.
3. Breakfast for dinner.
If frozen waffles and bowls of cereal are all your family has time for on weekday mornings, try a full breakfast as dinner. Scrambled eggs, toast, fruit and juice can make a great dinner. Quickly dice part of a bell pepper or some mushrooms first to add some vegetables. Let them sautÃ© a couple of minutes while you crack and scramble the eggs, and then just pour the eggs over the veggies in the pan. Of course, topping plain scrambled eggs with some salsa leftover from dip night is even faster.
4. Leftover pizza.
Pre-made pizza crusts are always a good go-to for dinner at the end of a busy day. Get one big one, or a package of several smaller ones to customize pizzas for several children. For individually sized pizzas, you can also get a package of pita bread. Cut up your own pita wedges on dip night, and use the rest as the crusts for pizza night. Dice up any leftovers from chicken night. For a twist, you can use BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce as the base. If you really need tricky ways to get more vegetables into your kids, try a thin coating of pureed baby carrots under the tomato sauce.
5. â€œSnack dinner.â€
The original idea for this dinner comes from an out-of-print book called Tips for Moms for Kids, published in 1970 by Ladies Home Journal. Using a muffin or cupcake tray, you fill each spot with a little nibble. Of course, you will need multiple trays for multiple kids. Use a six-cup or twelve-cup tray. For twelve-cup tray, you will need twelve items. Mix leftovers, finger foods and treats. Some leftover hummus and pita chips will use two cups. Some cut-up chicken and ketchup will use two more. Then try pieces of cheese, diced fruit and carrot sticks for three more. Some crunchy snacks, like whole grain cereal and pretzels can use up two more. Dessert treats, like one cookie and some gummy fruit snacks can use two more. Then put each childâ€™s cup in the last spot.
Dinner doesnâ€™t have to be fancy. With some of these ideas, you can get kids fed quickly with healthy meals. Plan ahead a little and youâ€™ll be able to save time. Make quick-cooking dinners at the beginning of the week. Make meals that use up leftovers, such as pizza, at the end of the week. The weekend will be here before you know it.