When kids want dinner, they want it right away. It's a good idea to have a list of meals that your children enjoy, so when dinner time approaches you don't have to worry about thinking up ideas. Recipes that use ingredients that you always have on hand are the safest. Simple, kid-friendly meals are always the easiest and the most popular. Always serve a green salad on the side to make sure your kids are getting their fresh vegetables.
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is an all-time favorite. If you're really in a rush, make it from a box. If the neon orange sauce scares you off, opt for an organic or all-natural brand which doesn't add food coloring. If you have more time, macaroni and cheese is easy to make from scratch, with ingredients you already have in the fridge. Combine one package of cooked pasta, 1 cup of grated cheese, 2 cups of milk, and 1/2 cup of butter. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. For a more gourmet mac and cheese, use several different kinds of cheese.
Always have pre-made pizza crust in your freezer. Spread on tomato sauce and grated cheese and pop it in the oven. Individual pizzas are fun for kids; let them choose their own toppings to add to their personal pizza. If you have extra time and juicy tomatoes, make your own tomato sauce by sauteing an onion and several cloves of garlic, adding several chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, and simmering for 15 to 20 minutes. For smooth sauce, blend with an immersion blender. Another variation: make pizza on a bagel, a pita, or a tortilla.
Spaghetti and Sauce
Spaghetti and sauce can be fun and nutritious. You can make homemade sauce using the pizza sauce recipe in the previous section. To jazz things up, add chicken strips, broccoli or cauliflower florets, or sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. If your kids are home when you're making dinner, let them choose the shape of pasta. Many types of pasta come in whole wheat versions, which are much healthier than their white flour counterparts. Help your family adjust to the new, brown pasta by making half white and half whole wheat.
These re-baked potatoes are affectionately known as "potato dudes." Bake potatoes in the oven. When they are are ready, cut them in half and scoop out the inside of the potato. Set the skins aside. Mix the insides of the potatoes with sour cream, cottage cheese, and salt and pepper. For a variation, add chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets, chopped scallions, or chives. Fill the potato skins with your potato mixture, and sprinkle cheese on top. Put them on a cookie sheet and bake until the cheese is melted.
These cheese quesadillas add a Mexican twist to dinner. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Put in a tortilla, spread cheese on top, and top with another tortilla. Cook until the cheese begins to melt, and flip it over to let the cheese finish melting. Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter. Serve with salsa and a salad of avocado, corn, lettuce, carrots, and cucumber. To make a quesadilla wrap, cook the tortilla with the cheese open-face. Add salsa and salad, and roll it up, starting at one end. Kids love finger food, and this one is tasty and healthy to boot.