Have some quick and easy meals in mind in case your kids have no suggestions. The goal is to spend quality time with your family rather than spending the time cooking. Keep things simple. Better yet, set up a Do Your Own buffet and let everyone make their own.
Some Meal Suggestions
- Mess for Less provides an easy way to create a Do Your Own taco bar
- Cilantro Cooks offers some different suggestions. The great part with a Do Your Own anything is that even picky eaters can fix their meals the way they like them
Taco Salad Bar
I press large flour tortillas into tortilla shell molds and bake the shells for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove the formed tortillas from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Put them on a plate and fill with your favorite salad ingredients.
- If you do not have tortilla shell molds, Eating Well offers a different suggestion. If you have cupcake or muffin pans, you can do it. Kraft Recipes offers a different way to make the shells.
Let everyone assemble their choice of fillings in flour tortilla shells, keeping the filling ingredients on one half of the flour tortilla. Measure 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat until olive oil is hot. Then carefully fold the flour tortilla over and slide it into a frying pan.
- If you do not know how to make quesadillas, WikiHow has great instructions, complete with videos. It is fool proof.
- Sabrina’s Organizing has great suggestions for a variety of ingredients to make quesadillas.
Baked Denver Omelets
I made these in a variety of individual casserole dishes rather than a 10-inch round casserole dish as suggested in All Recipes. The best part about a baked omelet is that you can change out the ingredients to make a variety of different omelets before baking. That way, everyone gets the ingredients that they each like.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
You can bake the potatoes and offer a variety of toppings that everyone can use to stuff their baked potatoes. Some ideas for toppings are: sliced green onions, chopped chives, grated cheese, diced tomatoes, corn, chopped bacon, ham, chicken, or steak, chili, salsas, butter, sour cream, etc. When their work of art is finished, pop their artwork in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to melt cheese and heat the other ingredients. Delish.com suggests 9 different ways to stuff baked potatoes.
There are many, many shapes and sizes of pasta. I love mixing homemade pesto on pasta with freshly grated Romano cheese. I can add chicken or turkey to the dish and serve it with crusty garlic bread. Besides changing shapes, you can add a variety of toppings or fresh herbs. Macaroni and cheese is equally as fun with different shapes other than macaroni. Add the ingredients to make a salad so the kids can all choose what they want in their salad, a variety of salad dressings, and toasted garlic bread and you have a full meal that takes little time to prepare.
Build Your Own Sandwiches or Subs
Have you ever watched anyone make subs for you at a place like Subway or Wawa? They have all the fixings in a variety of containers in front of them and they can make a huge variety of subs. You can do the same thing.
Pretty much any one-pot meals are quick and easy. I like it even more when I can bake that one-pot meal and just add a salad or dessert to it. One suggestion is Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti.
- Cheesy Meatball Skillet and then make meatball subs. Any kind of stir fry is quick and easy. You can customize the ingredients so that everyone likes the finished stir fry. Or consider making a Broccoli and Sausage Pasta, and if you have picky eaters, just bring the cooked ingredients to the table and let them assemble their own pasta.
When I was young, my Mother gave my brother, my sister, and me each 1-2 English muffins that we could use as pizza bases. She provided a variety of toppings such as chopped onions, spaghetti sauce (no such thing as pizza sauce back then), pepperoni (that she sliced – no already sliced pepperoni packages yet), grated mozzarella cheese.
There was no such thing as pizza delivery back then. In fact, there was no such thing as anything delivery. I do know that pizza was made in major cities; however, I lived in a little village that did not have even one traffic light. Therefore, our “pizzas” were a big deal to us because we had nothing to compare it with.
Today, my son makes pizza dough from scratch and forms the dough into individual pizzas. He gives each of us a ball of pizza dough and we can form it in any shape that we want. Some of us like think, crusty pizza and others like thick pan pizzas. We all laugh and make fun of each other as we “build” our pizzas. When they are ready, he puts them in the oven and while our pizzas are in the oven, we make a salad, get everyone’s beverage, set the table, and prepare for dinner.
You are Ready! By now you should have completed all of Phase 1 and 2, Phase 3, and this Phase 4. You are now ready to set a date for your first family meal. Keep in mind that you only have one chance to make a first good impression. Therefore, make a point of creating a fun night so that your kids will want to have more family dinners.
- Goals & expectations
- Ideas that you will offer to get “buy-in” from the kids
- Different giveaways to keep things exciting
- Conversation Starters and ways to make dinner time and activities fun
- Quick and easy meal suggestions to offer if your kids make no suggestions
Much Success! See you again next week for the Taste Testing Event to be published on 8/17/2017