Cheap and easy recipes for four hungry kids

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Sheila, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. Sheila

    Sheila Comrade

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    I am watching my nephews and niece over the summer (plus my own son). They eat a lot! I need help. What are some good recipes that are easy, cheap and healthy? I know, I am asking a lot. :)
     
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  3. Learner4Life

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    I make mini pizzas on tortilla shells. yummy!!!
     
  4. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Or mini pizzas on english muffins. Baked potatoes with carrot sticks or broccoli on the side. Any veg with a dipping sauce (like ranch) which is not that great for adults but kids need fat!
     
  5. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I loved sloppy joes as a kid. You could also make spaghetti, soup and sandwiches.
     
  6. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Proud, so did I! I forgot about those.

    Other things I liked as a kid (not necessarily winning any health food awards, though):
    - cube steaks with baked potatoes
    - chili mac
    - breakfast for dinner
    - baked pasta with melted browned cheese on top
    - tuna casserole
     
  7. Sheila

    Sheila Comrade

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    I had forgotten about sloppy joes! Yummy!
    Mini pizzas would work as well. Keep ideas coming.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The key to easy when cooking for a crowd is preparation. I always have cut up veggies in my fridge (or mostly always...just the other night I was going to saute some red, yellow, orange and green peppers only to look into the fridge and find that they'd been eaten already and nobody told me they'd taken the last of them). If you buy in bulk and cut them up ahead of time you have things ready for when you want to cook with them. Also, if the kids can get to them, they'll go for whatever's easiest at snack time. Good healthy snacks can cut down meal volumes simply because they're not as hungry at those times. I keep every color pepper, carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflour pretty much all the time, as well as a variety of fruits (in season) and cubed cheese. My kids will eat raw veggies sooner than they'd eat chips, simply because that's what is the easiest thing for them to get too, but I digress.

    Anyway, other things to have on hand: Chicken and beef broth or stock. I make my own, but there are several good brands that come in cartons at the grocery store; onions, basic spices (basil, oregano, ground mustard, ground ginger, poultry seasoning, thyme, nutmeg, etc).

    Anyway, from there, most recipes you would normally make are good for a crowd so long as the prep work has been done. My sister was shocked recently when I prepared, for 12 people, a steak dinner with a sauteed onion/green pepper topping (I made somebody go to the store), along with broccoli, caulliflour, cheese sauce, baked potatoes, gravy and a mixed green salad in less than 45 minutes. It all came down to having everything already prepared and ready to go (and being organized and good at cooking for a crowd, but that comes with practice). My favorites are baked chicken dishes (marinate chicken in balsamic vinegar, ginger and ground mustard mix, place in casserole dish, pour excess marinade over it and bake at 350 until done...usually an hour). You can change out the marinades for variety, and make sure you stick the chicken in the marinade (in a ziploc baggie) in the fridge at least by lunch time, so all you have to do is yank it out of the fridge. I also like veggie fried rice. Cook brown or wild rice the night before and stick it in the fridge. The next day pull it out and mix it with however many scrambled eggs needed to coat it with a little excess. Let the egg sit in while you gather your prepped veggies (or frozen veggies), and whatever leftover meat you had from the night before. After the rice soaks for a bit, toss it all in a wok or large frying pan with a little veggie or olive oil. Cook (turn frequently) until the rice is brown(er) and the egg is cooked and everything is hot.

    Oh, another favorite. Dice up chicken breast (that you've marinated that morning...for this one I like to use soy sauce and ginger and mustard). Cook the chicken in a deep frying pan ALONG WITH chopped onions (I like the flavor of the onion to cook in with the chicken) with a little olive oil. When the chicken is mostly done, add in chopped peppers of whatever color you feel like using (my kids like orange and red peppers, but they get mostly green because they're the cheapest). You can also add in broccoli if you need more volume. Make a chicken gravy (a little thick because there will be water from the cooking veggies on the bottom of the pan), and pour over the veggie/chicken mix. Stir well. Serve over noodles or rice.

    While its easy to stick with pasta dishes, they're soooooo unhealthy if eaten all the time. Plan your meals, make sure you have the quantities you need, do your prep work at random times throughout the day, and then cooking a huge, healthy dinner is a snap. I feel like I've rambled here, so I hope you got something useful out of all that.
     
  9. TennisPlayer

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    You can make your own chicken nuggets. Look online for Rachel Ray's recipe.

    Or tacos with cooked chicken or fish sticks * you can make them healthy from the fish from the seafood counter* are good too!
     
  10. MissJennifer

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    They're not the healthiest - but we keep a bag of the Foster Farms Chicken patties in the freezer - and they are great for a quick meal. Throw 'em in the oven for 15 min. and you're good to go. Sometimes we eat them just as chicken patties, other times as chicken sandwiches, I also make chicken parmesan using them - I bake the chicken patties with some pasta sauce and mozarella and then boil up some spaghetti and serve them together! So yummy - and easy!
     
  11. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    yum...all this talk is making me hungry!!!

    Don't forget to add some fun veggies on the side...frogs on a log (peanut butter & raisins on celery sticks), little trees (raw broccoli), carrot sticks & sliced cucumbers (maybe with a tiny drizzle of italian dressing) are better than chips.

    Now I'm thinking about those sloppy joes! Mmmmm!
     
  12. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I make big batches of hummus and all kinds of veggies. I eat it as a dip with the veggies, or make sandwiches with it. Depending what the kids like you can add things to it: most kids don't like it spicy or with a lot of garlic, but a lot like it with fresh parsley added or sweet roasted red pepper pureed in. I always mix in some tortilla chips with my veggies. Tortilla chip + hummus = yummmm!

    If you want to make Sloppy Joes healthy, use lentils instead of meat. I doubt they would complain--I've made them for lots of people and they are very tasty and filling. Just make them the same as you would otherwise. Save the fat etc for the tater tots on the side! (I can't eat sloppy joes without tater tots)

    If they are adventurous, sushi can be a great, healthy snack. Some kids love it, some won't try the "icky seaweed." It is simple and cheap to make yourself and you can fill it with anything they like.

    If you want any of the recipes, PM me.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jun 17, 2009

    Whole wheat pasta is a cheap meal - kids need fuel. Make pasta salad or sloppy baked ziti (I mixed fresh spinach and mushrooms in mine).

    Get a large carton of low-fat vanilla yogurt to dip fruit in or use it to make smoothies.

    They're aren't the healthiest, but freeze pops (the kind in the plastic sleeve) are super-cheap and a nice, cool snack.
     
  14. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    I love making smoothies...orange juice, frozen fruit (raspberries, blueberries), yogurt and ice. It is so refreshing and you can also freeze them into pops.
    Or just freeze plain orange juice or apple juice, yummy!

    I also love buying those pops in the plastic sleeve, but my gosh, my 14 yr. old can down about 5 of them in a sitting!! It's hot where we live and they just taste sooooo good, but aren't the greatest for him (er, us). So, I have resorted to making my own pops.
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    One of my favorite meals is chicken and onions with black beans and rice (I'm in South Florida after all).

    Use low-salt canned black beans if you can find them. Drain and add back water to fill the can, heat and add 2T of a product called Recaito (pureed onions and peppers), or add finely chopped onion and green pepper, dash of thyme, one chicken bouillon cube, and sliced chorizo sausage.
    You can marinate the boneless chicken breasts (I try to buy when they are on sale buy one/get one free) in Mojo if desired, then slice into strips. Saute sweet onions in olive oil and garlic. I also add the sausage to the onions while sauteing.
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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  17. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    I used to get this magazine many, many moons ago!!!! Along with a few of their sister magazines. I didn't realize they had a website.
    :love:
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Yes, and you can get on their email list. They have recipes for what I call 'real food' - no frou frou foods.
     
  19. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    A nice icy summer treat is watermelon slushee. Cut a watermelon into 1" cubes and freeze them for a few hours. Then just blend them up into a slushy. Sometimes I add a few squeezes from a lime or some mint.
     
  20. Sheila

    Sheila Comrade

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    Thank you all for the suggestions! I like the idea of the cut up veggies. My niece and nephews will eat raw veggies but my own son will not.:( Maybe they will be the influence he needs!

    The chicken and the black beans sounds really good!
     
  21. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Tastes can change very quickly. If he gives them a chance and doesn't eat all sorts of sugary, greasy or high fat food, he will quickly adjust to the taste of the veggies and probably grow to really like them! You can also try some new things (if any of these are new to him) like jicama and apples together, the little sweet red and yellow peppers (my parrot goes nuts for these, she loves the sweet veggies), hothouse (seedless) cucumber sticks (really good dipped in peanut sauce), baby yellow carrots (a little earthier and sweeter than orange).
     
  22. amyt682

    amyt682 Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2009

    boil a bag of frozen or refrigerated ravioli's- meat or cheese filled
    then layer with cheeses and spaghetti sauce just like a regular lasagna; i use spinach also when i have cheese filled ravioli's
    top with mozzarella and bake till heated through

    you could also make eggplant parmesian instead of chicken parmesian

    if you crock pot a bag of pinto beans you could have bean burrito's...let the kids do the smashing!
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    He'll eat when he gets hungry enough, I promise. What I can't promise is that the transition will be easy. Matter of fact, it will probably be loud, whiny and obnoxious, but he'll learn to eat eventually. The key is that horrible foods aren't so horrible if they're an occasional treat, and then the kid doesn't feel like he's missing out because he DOES get them, just not all the time.
     
  24. snickydog

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    When I was in preschool, my mom would make me little pizzas using those little squares of rye cocktail bread. I got to put on the sauce and some mozzarella. The kids could add veggies to it, too. Throw in some strawberries or other fresh fruit and you're good to go!
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

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    The kid who doesn't eat the raw veg may respond better to some other raw veg - try getting him involved in actively searching for things he likes. Could be there's a specific veg that he Just Can't Manage - I know a kid who has never voluntarily eaten banana... which, all right, is not a veg, but the point is that there may need to be some experimentation here.

    Try frozen peas straight out of the package.
     
  26. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    My assumption is that a variety of raw veggies would be offered, so if a kid just can't manage one particular one, there would be others to choose from.
     
  27. Newto3rd

    Newto3rd Companion

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    Boil some chicken in a crockpot with stewed tomatoes (or diced), salt, pepper, your choice of seasonings, ketchup, bbq sauce. Use 2 forks to separate it and serve on a bun. CHEAP and good! Serve with pickles, fruit, veggies, or baked beans!
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    (mildly, but from personal experience)

    It's at least thinkable that the raw veg on offer just all happen to be kinds that don't work well for this kid - raw carrots taste lovely but are hard to deal with when cut too thick, celery's stringiness can be obnoxious, raw broccoli florets can taste and feel more than slightly weedy in the mouth, and there's a slight bitter sliminess to raw zucchini.

    I find it helps with both zucchini and carrots when they're cut not into sticks but into slabs. Jicama might be a good choice; it's less resistant than carrots but has a fine natural sweetness.

    Anyway, experimenting with various veg, and even different ways to cut said veg, could be a way to raise interest.
     
  29. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oh, meatloaf, with a twist....

    Puree carrots, broccoli, peas and any other veggie you feel like. Mix into your normal meatloaf recipe, adding more bread crumbs if it gets too thin. They'll never notice the veggies, and now the meatloaf is packed with good veggies. It's as easy to make 10lbs as it is to make 1lb.

    Healthy tip: If you feel like you just can't live without relying heavily on pasta dishes, save and freeze the water you used to steam fresh veggies. Cook the pasta in that water, or at least add it to the water you use. This trick actually works better for rice, as ALL the water gets absorbed into the rice, along with all those nutrients from the veggies.
     
  30. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    YUM!:thumb:
     
  31. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Golly that sounds good right now. Mmmmm....
     
  32. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Interestingly, my 7 year old girls are now into salads. I don't know if it's imitating mommy or what but they'll eat tiny spinach & mandarin orange salads with balsamic vinaigrette; and mixed green salads in restaurants. Your kids might like to be grown-up and have a side salad with their main dish. Oh, I always let them serve themselves (since they were 2!) and that seemed to have something to do with trying salad the first time.
     
  33. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Yes, definitely. As a vegan, I have faced this issue when I need to feed kids (ahem, and some adults), many of whom have apparently never been fed a vegetable that wasn't canned or frozen in their lives and think that everything I eat is yucky! I win them over in the end (the cookies don't hurt). Jicama sticks and apple slices and peanut butter always goes over well. Cucumber sticks and peanut sauce, thin carrot sticks (a theme here...) and mild hummus, sugar snap peas, sweet peppers, etc.

    I've also never met a kid who didn't love baked spaghetti squash. Peeling things can make a difference too. And, I've successfully fed swiss chard to kids who loathe spinach, especially pretty rainbow chard.

    Often kids only see the usual carrots, broccoli, celery and if they don't like those (I admit none of those are MY favorites either except broccoli and even then I love it lightly steamed), they write off all veggies. I think tomatoes are evil incarnate, but a lot of kids like the little sweeter cherry tomato varieties.

    Smashed sweet potatoes are good too. You can sprinkle some brown sugar on or even spread a baked potato with some peanut butter. I learned this one from an athletic girl from Singapore--she slices up a baked sweet potato and layers them with peanut butter for an energy boost before or after her soccer practice.

    I am currently going through these issues with my parrot: she will happily gobble RED (ie more expensive) quinoa, but won't deign to so much as sniff at the regular. And she will only eat broccoli if it is totally raw and only if either quartered florets or finely julienned stalks. She will only eat carrots if they are julienned and her sweet peppers must be cut into little rings. Blueberries must be whole, but can't be too big and strawberries she only eats on days beginning with the letter "t." She will eat lots of chard, spinach and arugula but only off of MY plate. Deviation from these rules results in food dumped out onto the floor. She is driving me crazy trying to keep her eating healthy; people aren't kidding when they say parrots are like 2 yr olds.

    If they like Asian-inspired flavors, I make a yummy summer salad with 1/2 corn, 1/2 shelled edamame, some sesame seeds, touch of salt and a dressing made out of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce to taste. I keep it light and fresh. I eat it in a pita or out of the bowl with some vegan chik'n nuggets, but obviously you could use whatever you use. Any other light dressing would work too. You just boil the frozen corn and edamame for about 5 minutes and it has a nice, fresh, crunch to it.

    Sorry, I love to cook; I get excited :lol:.
     
  34. Newto3rd

    Newto3rd Companion

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    What about just baked potatoes? Slice some baked chicken or even sliced lunch meat on top. Serve with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits. Or some broccoli and cheese over the top. Ranch, bbq sauce, ketchup (yes I love ketchup on my baked potatoes!), you name it! The possibilities are endless with baked potatoes.

    Oven fried chicken - not as bad as it sounds! Pour a little olive oil in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. Coat chicken with Bisquick or a flour mixture if you don't have Bisquick (season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, or anything else you like) and bake in the oven at 375 degrees until done. Flip halfway through the cooking time. (maybe total 45 min. - but it's a pop in a go cooking time)

    What about hamburgers and hot dogs from the grill - or stove if you don't have a grill. That's cheap and easy and most kids like that. You can get low-fat hot dogs. Top with chili or that low-cal hot dog chili sauce.

    What about nachos? Use baked tortilla chips and top with chili (homemade turkey chili is great), shredded cheese, sour cream, olives... whatever they like!
     
  35. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    A snack for pure entertainment value-snowcones. I bought a snowcone maker many years ago (they are around $15 at Walmart) and my son loved it. It took along time to eat and kept him busy. Now I use it during the summer-sometimes with fruit juice or sometimes with the syrup they sell-sugar-free, of course. I know it's not great for your teeth, but it is a fun treat.
     
  36. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    You said almost exactly what I was going to say, except I was going to add about how you can make the potatoes early, wrap them, and keep them warm in a crock pot (I think you can actually cook them in the crock pot too, but I haven't ever done that).


     
  37. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    My Jeannie WILL NOT eat something she does not like, hungry or not. She's one of those kids you cannot say 'take it or leave it', cause she will leave it!
     
  38. TeacherGroupie

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    I've posted elsewhere, I think, about Supper Nachos: in a pie plate layer the contents of one or two standard 15 oz-size cans of refried beans (I like Trader Joe's refried black beans with jalapeño, which are pretty mild but very tasty); you can top the beans with a thin but sufficient layer of guacamole or, if you prefer, a layer of your favorite salsa; "frost" thinly with sour cream and, if desired, garnish with sliced olives; serve with tortilla chips and let the kids have at it straight out of the pie pan. If you want, you can use one can of refried beans and mix with it either half a pound of freshly cooked ground beef or any leftover cooked meat or chicken that you've got handy.
     
  39. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Not all kids will eat when they're hungry. Yes, most will, but not all. My youngest daughter has been hospitalized for malnutrition and needed tube feeding when we tried to go this route with her. Nope, she would not eat, no matter how hungry she got.

    She has a pediatric eating disorder, btw. For her, it wasn't a matter of finding her favorite foods to eat, it was a matter of finding ANYTHING she would eat. And for a period of several months, there was nothing she would eat, period. No food would enter her mouth.

    Not that I think this kid has that problem, but I hate to see food struggles starting over something as simple as raw veggies v/s cooked. Be thankful the kid will eat any veggies and move on. (this isn't addressed to the op, she seemed at ease with the idea that her kid won't eat raw veggies.....btw)

    Kim
     
  40. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    My gosh, Kim. How's your daughter now?
     
  41. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    That is an important point, kimrandy1. I hope she is okay now. Does this mean she will be at risk forever? Poor thing.

    I remember reading Dr. Brazelton say to give your child a multi-vitamin and then let him eat what he wants (of healthy choices) and don't worry about it.
     

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