Do you struggle with what to serve your little ones for lunch & dinner?
If you’re like me, deciding what to make at mealtime is a daily headache. I try to provide healthy meals, different each week to expose my boys to a wide variety of foods; but all too often we get caught up in the day, it’s 5pm, they’re starving, and I have nothing prepared. In that moment, having quick and easy items on hand can be life-saving. So, to help all of you, I’ve complied a list of some of my favorite go-to items. Next time you’re headed to the store, add these to your list and you’ll be patting yourself on the back come Wednesday evening.
As a note, my boys are not big fans of mixed texture foods (casseroles, pasta dishes, meats with sauces, soups), so I haven’t added these to my list. If your kiddos will eat them, they’re always a great way to go because you can make them ahead of time and have them ready in minutes.
If your kids are like mine and prefer a more simple entrée, this list should be a hit.
Whole Foods Turkey Meatballs: Find these at the pre-made counter. Heat, cut and serve with a side of ketchup for dipping.
Trader Joes Mini Chicken Tacos: Frozen. Heat in the microwave for a quick meal. Corn shells, shredded chicken with a little veg and spice. Win win win.
Trader Joes Turkey Corn Dogs: Frozen. Heat in the microwave and ready in a minute. A healthier, more fun alternative to a hot dog.
Earth’s Best Fish Nuggets: I pick these up at Target. Made with minced pollock and whole wheat flour, a nice twist on the standard chicken nugget.
Quesadilla: Add coconut oil to a fry pan, lay a tortilla flat, sprinkle cheese and the toppings of your choice (refried beans, shredded chicken, avocado, chopped veggies, etc.), cover with a second tortilla, heat and flip. We cut ours in triangles and call them “mini pizzas”.
Rotisserie Chicken: I’ve seen them at most stores. Fully cooked, warm and ready to go. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Cut a slice into cubes, warm in the microwave, and serve with a sauce for dipping.
Kiddie Sushi/Roll-Ups: Roll a tortilla, slice of cheese, slice of deli meat, and a piece of spinach, slice into 1 inch pieces. Serve with toothpicks, Fun with Fed chopsticks, or Pick Ease for fun and easy pick-up.
French Toast: Breakfast for dinner is always a win in our house. This is one of our most favorite quick, healthy meals. Soak a slice of whole wheat bread in one egg. Make sure bread is covered with egg on both sides. Heat a pan in coconut oil, then cook the bread until browned. We use coconut oil for a healthy fat, and avoid any sugar in the egg mixture.
Eggs: One of the most simple, but easiest, most accessible proteins. Hard boil a few and keep them on hand in the fridge, scramble, or pan fry one in coconut oil for a great anytime entree.
Last night’s dinner as today’s entrée: Saving the best for last… serve last night’s parent’s dinner as today’s entree for the kids. If you aren’t able to swing a family meal every night (parents work late, busy weekday schedule), make a little extra for mom & dad’s dinner and serve it to the kids the next day. Several times a week, this is the way we go. Last night my husband and I had pork tenderloin, so today, I warmed it in the microwave, cut it into cubes, and served it at lunch with a side of ketchup for dipping. Quick and easy, saves money and makes all parties happy.
What are your go-to quick and easy entrées? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Here’s to faster, easier, stress-free meals!
-Catherine Callahan, MS, CCC-SLP