We have all been there – you plan as well as you can, search for recipes, go grocery shopping, make dinner – and your child refuses to eat. You then have to make the decision whether to stand your ground and make him eat what you’ve made, or avoid the whining and make that box of macaroni and cheese.
Ideally, your child would realize that perfectly balanced recipe you’ve spent time preparing is both nutritious and delicious, but in the real world, this is rarely the case.
The five “Make Your Own Dinner” night recipes below are designed to let everyone make their meal how they like it best, without creating a separate menu for each person in your family. An added bonus to these recipes is that they allow children to take ownership of their nutrition and promote autonomy and independence in eating habits.
1. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
What you need:
Bread, butter, varied types of cheese (American, swiss, provolone, etc.);
Goldfish crackers, shredded cheese, croutons, crumbled bacon, chicken breast, sour cream – the possibilities are endless!
What you do:
Let each person pick out what type (or types) of cheese they want on their sandwich, heat up some tomato soup, and let your cooks get creative dressing up the soup and creating flavor combinations.
What you need:
Hard or soft taco shells;
Meat (ground beef, chicken, steak or pork);
Lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, hot sauce, salsa, rice, beans, corn, onions, peppers, etc.
What you do:
Use a mild taco seasoning on the meat of your choice and let your family choose the spices, veggies, and sauces they like best. Cook the meat, cut the veggies you need, and put everything in bowls for your family to pick and choose from. If your kids are a little older, let them help dice the tomato or chop the onions.
What you need:
Traditional pizza crust, flatbread, or get creative with biscuits, bagels or even English muffins;
Sauces, which can be red (tomato) or white (usually alfredo sauce);
Any type of shredded cheese;
Toppings, toppings, toppings! Again, the possibilities are endless. Vegetables, meat, fruit, barbeque chicken. Your choices are only limited by your imagination.
What you do:
If necessary, bake the pizza crust according to directions. Set out the sauces and toppings and see who can make the most unique, tasty pizza!
4. Baked Potato Bar
What you need:
Shredded cheese and meats for protein, sour cream, ranch dressing, onions, chives, broccoli, etc.
What you do:
You can do so much with a simple baked potato. Have a Mexican baked potato by adding ground beef, taco sauce, lettuce and tomato. Make it more traditional by adding cheese and broccoli, or go all out with turkey, cheese, onion and bacon.
What you need:
Steak, chicken, cubed pork, or shrimp;
Assorted vegetables (peppers, zucchini, onions, etc.) and even fruit (pineapple and pork is a delicious combination!);
What you do:
Each person can stack their kabobs to their liking. Encourage your cooks to experiment with combinations or something they’ve never tried before. Maybe your son swears he hates shrimp, but may be surprised when he tries it grilled with tasty vegetables and seasoning.
Grill the kabobs (this doesn’t take long) and serve with rice or another side of your choosing.
Spend quality time with your family while making delicious, nutritious meals together. Do you have a favorite, go-to recipe you make often? Think about how you can turn it into a “Make Your Own” night! The five recipes above are just the beginning of inclusive family meals.
Panini Bar: Kids in the Kitchen
If you’re just joining us for the Kids in the Kitchen Series, be sure to check out last week’s challenge where we shared some tasty breakfast treats. This week, we’re working on lunch! If your kids are tiring of the same old lunch sandwiches, let’s change things up a bit and get them involved with their lunch choice. A panini bar is a great way to host an afternoon of family fun! (In truth, the panini bar makes regular appearances on our dinner menu as well – it’s a great option for the working mom who wants to serve a hot meal but doesn’t have a lot of time. I’ve also been known to sneak a hot panini for breakfast!)
The best part about a panini bar is that you can always switch it up. We lay out everything in the fridge in a huge spread and then the choices begin! Emily usually takes the orders and then I help her prep. She cooks them in our panini maker (Best invention ever! This is an affiliate link for the one I have – don’t feel led to click – it’s just there if you want it because I really think this product is awesome!) and then serves them up like a waitress in our own little family restaurant. Some things you’ll need:
- Assortment of bread – We’ve used white, wheat, tortillas, homemade, rolls, bagels, pitas…whatever happens to be on hand.
- Assortment of meats – Ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, roasted chicken (See The Bird Word Series!)…whatever you like!
- Assortment of cheese – We always have cheddar and provolone on hand, but often take it up a notch with pepper jack or fresh mozzarella (my fav!).
- Assortment of toppings – Tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, hot peppers, avocado and bacon have all made appearances on our panini menu.
- Assortment of condiments – Mayo, mustard, hot sauce, ranch dressing…lots of tasty options here.
The opportunities are truly endless. Everyone loves getting to have something a little different and choosing their own toppings per their tastes, but you don’t feel like you’re prepping separate meals for everyone. It’s quick to set up, quick to prep and quick to clean up. And the best part is that a panini bar requires some input from every member of the family, so it’s a great activity to get everyone chatting and interacting in a combined effort to create some tasty together.
We’ve made BLTs, club sandwiches, mozzarella caprese yummies (YES!!!!), grilled cheese…seriously, I can’t think of a food that doesn’t taste better after it’s been pressed in the panini maker. It’s like my own little homemade Panera! Emily feels super independent and in control getting to prep and cook, and I love getting a bit of a break from being in charge of mealtime.
Do you have an awesome sandwich that you think would be killer in the panini maker? Please share! I’m always looking for new ingredients to include in our panini bar. And be sure to link up any awesome panini recipes below and check out what the other gals made this week!
Quick and Easy Recipes for Working Moms
If there is one thing I am always on the hunt for, it’s quick and easy recipes. With growing toddler twin boys eating me out of house and home, I’m constantly fighting the grumpy munchies when we get home from work. Dinner needed to be on the table…like five minutes ago. Finding the right quick and easy recipes has been a bit of a challenge. There’s no shortage of recipes on Pinterest, but I find myself quickly overwhelmed and click happy, leaving me with hundreds of options spread across 15 different boards. Some recipes are easy prep and then some just look darn tasty and would take some real elbow grease and time for me to pull off.
So! I decided to create a never-ending quick and easy recipes link up on Chaos & Kiddos! For all those working moms out there who frequent our site for recipes that are manageable for the tight-on-time working parent, we’ve now got this extra bonus post for you! We’ll be collecting quick and easy recipes from bloggers all over the planet!
There’s just one rule – All recipes posted MUST BE 45 MINUTES TOPS from preparation to table. This includes cooking time!
The link up sorts the most recently added recipes to the top of the list, so come back time and time again for new recipes to freshen things up a bit. Bloggers! This is your chance to get creative when sharing recipes that would be an ideal fit for a tired working mom coming home to starving kiddos. It does not have to be dinner specific either! Quick snacks, breakfast, lunch…anything that can be whipped up in a jiffy to quell hungry voices with just a little bit of time and effort.
If you try a recipe and find that it is extra, extra fabulous, please come back to leave some blog love via the comments to encourage other working moms to take special note of a home run quick and easy recipe that you discovered on this link up. And visit the original poster to say thanks for helping save time and energy (and sanity!) in my home!
Oatmeal On-The-Go Bars by Weelicious: Kids in the Kitchen
The name really says it all on this one. As working moms, I’m sure most of us would admit that “on-the-go” is pretty much the only mode we operate in. When it comes to cooking, it needs to be quick and easy. As I work harder to focus on healthy ingredients, I’m often drawn back to my Weelicious Cookbook, where simple healthy recipes abound and cooking is always a family affair. This week, for the Kids in the Kitchen Series, we had to come up with a breakfast food to cook with our children. I immediately thought of the Oatmeal On-The-Go Bars by Weelicious because they’re super healthy, very easy and have lots of ingredients that the boys enjoy dumping in their bowls. And for the working mom, they are a major win, because they’re perfect for me to grab for breakfast as I’m heading out the door in the morning.
I admit, this post was supposed to publish first thing Monday morning. As often happens, life got in the way, and I’m, let’s see, only about 12 hours late. I almost didn’t get it done tonight either! I had one moment of “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow,” and thankfully, I convinced myself otherwise. Cooking tonight with the kids (all 3 of them!) will be a memory I hold dear for years to come. The boys were so excited, and their “sissy” was happy to hang out with her family for some tasty fun. They ended up chanting “You can do it! You can do it!” when Emily was measuring ingredients and even hugged each other in happiness, which is a rare occasion for my crazy competitive boys. It was a special night. I’m so glad I followed through. Doing these series with my blogger friends really challenges me to purposefully plan fun activities with my children, which as a busy mom, is something I feel I often overlook when the going gets tough, even though it should be my number 1 priority.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Applesauce
- 1 Egg
- 3 tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 3/4 cup Dried Fruit (I used raisins and dried cranberries)
- 1/4 cup Nuts or Seeds (I used Pepitas and Sunflower Seeds)
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
-Combine milk, applesauce, egg, honey and vanilla in a large bowl.
-Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.
-Add the dried fruit and nuts.
-Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
These bars will last 5 days in the fridge and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Be sure to check out what recipes my gal pals tackled for this week’s challenge and link up your own tasty breakfast posts!