Here’s my tip. Are you ready?
When you can’t think of anything to cook for dinner for your kids besides fishsticks, ask a 24 year old. Yes. I know one of those. My new co-teacher actually just turned 24. So she’s pretty much 23. Which means she still has braincells. So when I worried out loud about being the only one in charge of dinners pretty-much now that my honey has her fancy happy job far far away (for which I am extremely grateful, because it saved her from an awful situation and it is actually fulfilling and important), and how I didn’t want to fall into the frozen food abyss, yet I don’t really have much time to cook for the poor dears, this young thing (bless her braincell-filled soul) rattled off about fifteen ideas. Let me just clarify that I must be able to assemble these dinners very quickly, as my dear little Trucker is a bit of a clingon. As much as I like to hang out in the kitchen and cook, that is not much of an option when Mama isn’t home. Was my dilemma something she had been thinking about at all at any moment in the previous year? No. Youngins are so neat.
Of course, I not being 23/24, don’t remember all 15 ideas. But what I do remember, I will share with you:
- Quesadillas! Duh. You can put some veggies in, too.
- Grilled cheese, or — she claims she ate this when she lived in Tanzania — grilled PB&J. That actually sounds delicious to me.
- Pizza bagels. I did try to make these once, and Cakie did not approve. But I tried them this week and they were a hit. A smash hit. He asked for seconds, which is unheard of in these parts.
- Tuna and celery. Dip tuna into celery. Fun for the whole family.
- Dip night. Get several dips like bean dip, hummus and guacamole. Then offer veggies cut into dipping sticks and whole grain crackers. Fun fun fun!
- I actually had my own idea. I know, right? I bought a whole roasted chicken on Sunday, and used it for the protein in several of the dishes. There was chicken on the pizza bagels and chicken in the quesadillas. And of course, one night we had… chicken.
- Quiche. Yum. With veggies. And… chicken?
- Uh. I only remember 6 ideas? Ugh.
- I bought a tasty soba noodle prepared thingee at my food coop. It worked as a side dish and a main dish — with chicken.
- I also whipped out the old Ge0rge F0reman Grill that we bought at the Dollar General several years ago and has been living in the closet. I’m thinking I might be able to either think of some kind of panini situation, or grill something (other than chicken) quickly.
All of these meals are to be supplemented with veggies on the side. Cake eats them first. Trucker ignores them like they’re pork. But I keep trying. I will allow myself one night of real pizza a week. And one night of fish sticks. But just one, ok?
That brings me to lunch. Because now that Cakie is a big kindergarten boy, I need to pack him a real lunch. Now I really ought to ask my co-teacher about this because I’m sure she’ll have at least fifteen ideas. And I need to whip out a recording device when I ask her, so I can remember more than 6 of the things she says. But here are my ideas:
- I have made the run-of-the-mill sandwich for Cake several times in the week. He likes the turkey salami from the food coop. And he likes peanut butter. Though I feel guilty packing the nuts, because I don’t want to harm any allergic kids. On the other hand, my school is not nut-free. The cafeteria actually makes PB&J for school lunches. So… I just packed it.
- One day I gave him hummus and crackers instead of a sandwich.
- I’m thinking of making a (I hate the real thing) healthy version of Lunchables. I’m going to cut up the cold cuts into cracker-sized bits. Then I’m going to put in crackers. Then I’m going to put in a stack of cheese the same size. And I’m going to put them in little cupcake papers. And I’ll put in something sweet (yogurt or dried fruit), too. It may be a success. Or it may fall apart all over the place and be a big mess by the time he opens it.
- I’m going to make the same old sandwich and cut it into shapes, a la Kevin Henkes’ Lily.
- I’m going to make the same old sandwich and roll it into spirals, then toothpick together.
- I’ve thought of soup in a thermos, but he generally does not eat soup, so I’m not sure how it will go over.
Mostly, I’m happy that thus far, he has chosen my food over the cafeteria food. I’m not sure that he knows that he has a choice. But I’m going to run with this while I can.
So, do any of you have any brilliant lunch or extremely easy, but healthful, dinner ideas to share with my teeny-tiny readership? Do tell.