As wonderful as family dinners are, there are times when the kids need to eat separately from the parents. Maybe Mom and Dad going out for a dinner date, and they need an easy dinner for the babysitter to serve the kids. Maybe Mom (or Dad) isn’t feeling too well, so a home-cooked dinner isn’t in the cards for that night. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to always have a back up plan so the kids get fed something that is (hopefully) tasty AND nutritious!
We usually reach for a convenience dinner about once a week (sometimes more, sometimes less), so there are certain foods I like to keep in the house for one of those unexpected times.
Here are my favorite quick and convenient dinners for kids:
Mac and Cheese – I try not to feed my kids too many artificial colors and flavors anymore, so we don’t buy that classic mac in the blue box anymore. Now my favorite boxed mac and cheese is Annie’s Organic Whole Wheat Shells & White Cheddar. Since it’s made from whole wheat, it actually has some fiber…and since it is organic, I don’t have to worry about artificial colors, flavors, hormones or antibiotics. When it’s on sale, it is worth stocking up. We make it with hormone-free milk and butter and serve it with organic frozen veggies heated in the microwave and fresh fruit.
Hot Dogs – These are a kid favorite, and they can be part of an overall healthy diet when you pick the right ones. I look for hot dogs that are made from quality meat with no added nitrates, hormones or antibiotics. My kids prefer all-beef hot dogs, but there are great turkey and chicken ones available if your kids will eat them. We serve them on whole wheat buns with a side of sweet potato fries, ketchup made without high fructose corn syrup, and fresh fruit (as always). You can buy the hot dogs and buns in advance and freeze them (I always package them in sets of 2 for my 2 kids). Then, you can quickly defrost them in the microwave and even cook the hot dogs in the microwave too!
Grilled Cheese – It can’t get any easier than this! Put some rBST-free white cheddar between 2 slices of whole grain bread, spread with a little butter (we try to use rBST-free or organic dairy whenever possible), and toast in a pan or on a griddle. You can even customize it by adding sliced lunch meat (look for meat with no added nitrates, hormones or antibiotics), veggies, thinly sliced apples, etc. We serve it with organic frozen veggies heated in the microwave and fresh fruit.
Quesadillas – Just like the grilled cheese except using whole wheat flour tortillas instead of bread. You can really get creative with the fillings. I like adding canned black beans and canned corn (both drained and rinsed) to the filling with the cheese. We always have salsa and sour cream on hand for dipping.
These are just a few of our kids’ favorite convenience dinners. What are your quick go-to meals for kids? Leave your comments below…your suggestions can help me and other readers!