Creative Ideas for Healthy and Simple Family Meals
Everyday cooking for a family can be difficult sometimes when your kids are complaining about the food, and you don’t have much time to prepare a healthy and simple meal… this is when cooking became stressful. It doesn’t have to be this way. I have learned in my kitchen how to make cooking simple, healthy and also fun for me and the rest of my family.
Here are my 5 tips on how few to make cooking simple again, healthy and also fun:
1. Let everyone choose a meal.
Even kids know what they like to eat. Make mealtime planning a family activity. Invite each child to choose a meal for the upcoming week. If they’re old enough, they can also help prepare it.
You may run into a few bumps with younger children who always choose chicken fingers or pizza. If this is the case, you have a few options.
You can provide them with a list of three to five menu items to choose from. Or you can look through a cookbook together to come up with new ideas.
Encourage older children to look at the store supplements too. That way they can help you save money when theyíre making their menu choice.
This strategy is also a great way to motivate children to try new foods. Give them an age-appropriate cookbook that they can choose their recipes from. You may be surprised at what they come up with.
2. Make ahead meals.
Make ahead meals are great time savers. You can make them, freeze them, and then warm them up for an easy mealtime. However, make-ahead meals also offer something else. They offer you the opportunity to ask your children to help with the preparation.
If you’re cooking lasagna, for example, younger children can mix the cheese sauce while older children brown the meat. All hands on deck for the layering. This is a great bonding experience. It also helps your children learn how to cook and manage recipes. That’s certainly skill boys, and girls will need when they get older.
3. Make it themselves.
When children are old enough, ask them to be responsible for a meal. You may have to make the occasional schedule adjustment if they have an afterschool activity. However, this is a fantastic lesson in responsibility.
4. Get everyone involved.
There are many ways to get the whole family involved and to make family cooking fun. Adapt your strategies to the ages of your children.
Offer support but let them learn and make mistakes too. Cooking teaches many life skills including planning, improvising and of course learning from our mistakes.
Some meals are just made for group involvement. For example, the “make your own pizza” night. Make the dough ahead of time. Buy the toppings that each family member likes.
Then let everyone make their pizza. This is great for a family game night or weekend meal when you have a lot of time to laugh and cook.
5. Make breakfast for dinner.
Lighten it up once in a while and make breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, eggs, waffles – you name it, it’s all good.
Who says breakfast can only be served in the morning?
What about Kids and their Eating Healthy Habits?
Kids can be picky eaters. Some, of course, are more finicky than others. Mealtime can become a dreaded battleground. Do you have children that despise anything that doesn’t resemble a chicken finger? Do they turn their nose if it isn’t packed with sugar? If so, then you have your hands full. Here are a few ideas to help you win the battle and get some vitamins and nutrients into your kidís diet.
1. Fun Shapes
It doesn’t matter what it is; kids tend to like things that look fun. Pancakes and sandwiches are easy to shape with cookie cutters. However, you can also make vegetable latkes and shape them. You can also get creative with vegetables. Imagine building a little log cabin out of celery, with carrots and cheese or peanut butter as an adhesive to bind it all together.
Don’t forget meats. You can cut turkey burgers, chicken breasts, and other meat into shapes too. Once your child is accustomed to the flavor, you can ease back on the novelty shapes and fun designs.
2. Get sneaky
Add vegetable and fruit purees to their favorites. Brownies, bread and muffins and even sauces or dips can be healthy too. For example, add some applesauce, blueberry or peach puree to yogurt and serve with shredded chicken or bread & biscuits.
Most kids love cheese. You can embrace this tasty food as a dip, a sauce or a casserole staple. You can also stuff vegetable or meats with cheese. Yum, a cheese-filled pepper, or chicken breast!
4. Don’t force the issue
Many parents choose to simply make their meals as they would normally make them. However, they take a less stringent approach. Instead of making kids eat everything, the simply ask the children to try everything.
Most children are more opposed to how food looks than how it tastes. When you’re not forcing them to eat, they tend to be a lot less rigid with their choices and decisions.
5. Let them choose a meal once a week
Giving your children some independence and responsibility may make them more responsive at meal time. Let them choose one meal each week. Get them involved in the preparation too. This way they learn to appreciate what goes into making a meal.
Kids can be tough to please. A little patience and creativity can help you manage their picky appetites and mealtime successfully. Be patient. Help them learn to appreciate what goes into a meal and how to be healthy. Provide children with a variety and encourage them to try new things. Eventually, they’ll learn to appreciate new foods.
You can try this creative lunch for your children: Bath with rice beer and cream soup and also mushrooms of radishes, shaped flowers from cucumbers and carrots. Fun and healthy kids meal made simple:)
Quick, Easy, and Cheap Five Family Meal Ideas
Groceries are expensive. Time is money. And who wants to spend hours in the kitchen each night? It’s much more fun to spend that time with family or relaxing. The good news is you donít have to sweat over a hot stove. You don’t need to spend a fortune either. Here are five quick, easy and cheap family meal ideas.
1.Beans and rice
Beans and rice can be prepared so many ways it’s amazing. From Mexican style beans and rice to Cajun style, there’s a recipe for everyone’s tastes. When combined, beans and rice provide a complete protein. You can make it with or without meat. Buy canned beans and rice in bulk to save money.
Drunken Rosemary Chicken with Basmati Rice
- 1 fresh chicken or 8 chicken thighs (23/4 to 3 lb. total)
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves or dried rosemary
- 1 cup Chardonnay or other dry white wine
- 1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
- 11/2 cups precooked dried white rice
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions (including tops)
- Rosemary sprigs, rinsed
- Prunes- optional
1. Rinse thighs and pat dry. Pull off and discard skin; trim off and discard lumps of fat. Sprinkle thighs lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Place thighs in a 41/2-quart or larger electric slow-cooker. Sprinkle with garlic and chopped rosemary; pour wine and broth over chicken. If you are cooking fresh chicken, it would be recommended to put into the preheated oven.
3. Cover and cook until meat pulls easily from the bone, about 5 hours on low, 3 hours on high.
4. Skim and discard fat from juices. Add rice and mix to moisten evenly. Turn cooker to high; cover and cook, stirring several times until rice is just tender to bite, about 5 minutes. Spoon chicken and rice onto a platter. Sprinkle with onions and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 51/2 hours on low, 31/2 hours on high
MAKES: 4 to 6 servings
Per serving: 242 cal., 17% (42 cal.) from fat; 26 g protein; 4.7 g fat (1.2 g sat.); 21 g carbo (0.6 g fiber); 113 mg sodium; 99 mg chol.
2. Roast chicken
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned roast chicken? Whole chickens are inexpensive, and they generally provide enough food for more than one meal. You can use the leftovers for a tasty chicken salad served on a bed of greens or a chicken noodle casserole.
There are also two time-saving ways to manage a roast chicken. You can buy a whole roasted chicken already cooked at your grocery’s deli. Or you can roast one on the weekend and reheat it for mealtime. (You can also cut the roasting time in half by splitting the chicken down the middle).
Chicken-Vegetable Chowder –
- 4 Points Serving Size: 5
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs — cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 cup fresh baby carrots, cut in halves — lengthwise
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 14 1/2oz can ready-to-serve chicken broth
- 1 10 3/4oz.can condensed cream of chicken & broccoli soup — 98% Fat Free, with 30% less sodium
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 9 oz. Pkg. Green Giant Harvest Fresh Cut Broccoli — thawed
1. In 3 1/2 to 4-quart Crock-Pot slow cooker, combine chicken, carrots, mushrooms, onion, water, garlic powder, thyme, and broth; mix well.
2. Cover; cook on low setting for 7 to 9 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.
3. Drain fat from slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine soup, milk, and flour; beat with wire whisk until smooth. Add soup mixture and broccoli to chicken mixture.
4.Cover; cook an additional 30 minutes or until broccoli is tender. 5(1 1/2-cup)servings.
Per serving: 220 Cal; total fat 5g; (sat 2g); Charles 60mg; Sod 660mg; Total Carbs 17g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 5g; Pro 26g.
3.Fish and a salad
Fish only takes a few minutes to cook. And when you buy fish like tilapia and orange roughy, you can get it at a very low cost. Grab a bag of salad, and you have a very healthy meal you can prepare for a few dollars. And it’ll take less than ten minutes to prepare.
BAKED SALMON WITH DILL DIJON SAUCE
- 1 (2- to 3-pound) salmon fillet
- 1 1/2-inches thick
- Three tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise( optional but you can also make vegan)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
- 3 tbl. minced fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbl. Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tbl. minced fresh dill weed (optional)
- 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line the bottom of an ungreased broiling pan with aluminum foil and spray broiler rack with vegetable-oil cooking spray.
- Wash salmon and pat dry. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper, and place skin-side down onto rack.
- In a small bowl mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, Dijon mustard, dill weed, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
- Bake salmon, uncovered, 8 to 12 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 140 degrees F (salmon will be slightly opaque in thickest part).
- NOTE: During this time the salmon continues to cook (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven) and the juices redistribute. Carefully remove salmon from pan and transfer onto individual serving plates. Serve with the cold mustard dill sauce.
- NOTE 2: You can serve it also with asparagus, hazelnuts, and lemon (like my latest recipe)
Approximately cooking times for salmon:
- 1/4 to 1/3-inch – 3 to 4 minutes
- 1/2 to 3/4-inch – 4 to 6 minutes
- 1 to 1 1/2-inch – 8 to 12 minutes
4. Soup and stew
Soups and stews are inexpensive. Both soup and stew are a combination of vegetables, meat, or fish cooked in liquid. What sets these two warm and hearty dishes apart is the amount of liquid that’s used for each, with stews generally containing less liquid than soup.
When paired with bread and a salad they’re also quite satisfying and healthy. You can buy premixed soup and stew items at the store, but it’s healthier to do it yourself. Just add them to your crockpot in the morning, and they’re ready when you get home. You can also make them on the weekend and reheat when it’s time to eat.
Southwest Turkey Tenderloin Stew
- 1 1/2 pounds turkey tenderloin, cut into 3/4″ pieces
- 1 Tbls. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 can chili beans in zesty sauce, undrained
- 1 can stewed tomatoes, chili-style, undrained
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4″ pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 3/4″ pieces
- 3/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup Picante sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Place turkey in slow cooker.
- Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, and salt over turkey; toss to coat.
- Add beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, salsa, and garlic.
- Cover and cook on low 5 hours or until turkey is no longer pink in center.
- Add vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
NOTE: You can try with chopped slices turkey stew version, with zucchini grill …one of my family favorite 🙂
You can do almost anything with pasta, pasta Primavera, pasta with tomato sauce, pasta with sardines, capers, and lemon. There are hundreds of pasta recipes. Best of all, pasta is quick. It’s cheap, and it’s tasty. You really can’t go wrong with pasta. Add a salad, and you have a complete meal.
- 12 oz. chicken breast
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 red-skinned apples
- 4 sweet dilled pickles( optional)
- 2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta (shells, spirals or bows)
- 1/4 cup sliced stuffed olives
- 2 anchovy fillets (option)
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise(optional)
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. apple pie spice
- Slice luncheon meat and celery.
- Core and slice apples and sliced pickles.
- Mix pasta, meat, olives, celery, apples, and pickles.
- Chop anchovy fillets (optional) – add to following:
- Combine mayonnaise, soy sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings.
- Chill slightly before serving with pasta salad.
With a little patience and planning you can serve your family quick and easy meals ever night of the week. And you can save money doing it.
Make it, serve it and enjoy it!
Till next time,
MAKE IT SIMPLE, HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS!
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With love and respect,