Making the right dinner can not only mean less fights with fussy eaters during suppertime, but can also make school lunches easy.
Let’s face it—if you are like the 99 per cent of parents out there, you are already over making those school lunches. Although we all find ourselves occasionally admiring (even pinning) those amazing school lunches consisting of star shaped fruit and gluten-free everything, in reality you are spending most mornings cutting the crust off of the sandwiches your kid hates eating as much as you hate making. Why not give yourself a break in the morning by making dinners that make lunches easy? #parentingwin
First of all, you need to invest in a good slow cooker (AKA the dinner maker). I love my slow cooker because it basically means I can spend 20 minutes making supper in the morning and then eat leftovers for days. This one is a good option for making large amounts in one go. I really love making a huge pot of spaghetti sauce, leaving my house smelling like I am a good parent who cooks healthy meals (ha!), and then freezing the leftovers for the other 90 per cent of the time when I realize it is 5:30 and I haven’t started dinner.
Next you need to get a good thermos for your kiddos. It needs to be big enough to suit their appetites, but not so big that toting it around would make your kid’s backpack weigh a million pounds. Of course, you need to get a good quality thermos that isn’t going to leak all over your kid’s backpack and make you hate your life when you have to clean it out five hours later. This one by Thermos even comes with a spoon so your kids don’t lose every single one of yours.
So now that you have your gear, it’s time to get in the kitchen and do some serious meal planning. Making lunches is more than overrated, so let’s cook once and eat twice. The most important thing is to stick to easy meals that your kids will actually eat.
Whether you want to make them from scratch or use the packaged stuff, making a little breakfast for dinner can also save you time in the morning. You can pack a nutritional punch by adding a mashed banana or some blueberries, or kick the sugar up a notch (and make their teacher hate you) with some chocolate chips. Hey, whatever gets the lunch eaten is a #parentingwin. If you want to really win this meal you can add in a little turkey bacon or sausage.
The best part about making pasta for dinner is that it’s easy and cheap, especially if you make a huge pot of sauce and freeze leftovers for extra meals. A great way to up the nutritional value is to hide a crazy amount of veggies in the sauce and then blend them into invisibility. I like to cook sausages with the pasta to add some flavour and then remove them and cut them up to add back in once I have blended the sauce. Check out this recipe for a beefy macaroni bake.
Now I know what you are thinking–you don’t want to get stuck making another darn sandwich. Have no fear my overworked parent, this is actually a way to make one meal work for you. First I cook a huge pork roast with carrots and potatoes (usually it’s a Sunday night meal). Next I will take the leftovers and throw them in a crockpot with a bottle of barbeque sauce and some chopped sweet onions (the barbeque sauce will act as camouflage) and cook on low overnight. By the next morning you can simply transfer the meat into the thermos with a bun and your kids can make their own. Yum.
It’s super easy, healthy, and cheap to make your own soup, but you can just as easily picked up some ready to serve varieties as well. The best part about serving kids soup is that it eliminates any complaining about vegetables based on texture or taste since it all tastes the same and has the soft consistency of awesome. My kids like it when I add fun ingredients like ravioli, bacon or sausage to make it kid-friendly. Check out this kid friendly recipe for taco soup! A great start to a homemade soup is to buy a couple rotisserie chickens and then use the carcass to make soup stock. Check out this tutorial here.
The best part about putting pizza into my kids’ lunches is the fact that they are happy to eat it cold so it can go right into the ol’ tupperware. When my husband and I are feeling particularly negligent, we tend to simply order extra pizza on a Thursday night so we will have an easier Friday morning.
Being a parent is busy enough. If you can make a meal your kids will happily eat not once but twice, now that is what I call a #parentingwin.
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