Cooking for Little Ones

Cooking for toddlers and growing children presents some unique challenges along the way. While you want to provide them with those ever so important nutrients, it is often difficult to get them to eat those foods that are best for their growing bodies. We are all probably well aware of the food pyramid and the number of servings our children need of healthy grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and calcium products. Getting them to eat these nourishing products is another matter all together unfortunately.

The good news when cooking for children is that you do not necessarily need to incorporate all the important nutrients into dinner food. The truth of the matter is that raw cucumbers, which are thinly sliced and sprinkled with salt make a much healthier snack than potato chips and many little ones love this for a snack. You get a vegetable in their system and they are getting a treat at snack time. The same holds true for melon and cantaloupes. These make excellent snacks and are a much-needed fruit in these important diets for little ones.

When it comes to cooking for little ones, however man, woman, and child cannot live on macaroni and cheese alone. It’s been tried and tested and failed miserably. Try mixing things up whenever you can while keeping meals kid friendly. It is important that you try to introduce whole grains, proteins, and vegetables whenever possible at meal times around your home. The good news is that there are many prepackaged convenience foods that are introducing whole grains like never before in order to meet the growing demand of consumers for healthier meals that can be prepared with little fan fare or fuss.

Cooking healthier meals for kids is now easier than ever before. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best whenever possible. However, if you cannot manage fresh, you should avoid canned (fruits especially as they are often swimming in sugary sweetness) whenever possible. Frozen is far preferable to canned when it comes to both fruit and vegetables, as there are often fewer additives.

If you need some great meal ideas that are kid friendly and easy on the budget, you can often find recipes readily available online. You can meet your child’s calcium and dairy product needs by adding milk as the drink of choice for meals or a slice of cheese melted over their favorite vegetable. Ice cream, yogurt, and pudding also make excellent calcium rich treats, in moderation of course.

Encourage your children to try new things rather than cooking the same few meals over and over again that you know they are likely to eat. This prevents two things from happening. First of all, it helps you not to get bored when cooking for your children. Second, it allows your children to try new flavors and textures and form opinions about them. By trying new things they will learn not only about the things they dislike but also the foods they really enjoy.

You should also keep in mind that your children are people too when cooking for them. Just as you have foods you like and dislike they also will develop tastes over time. Those tastes may also change in time as well. It’s frustrating, I know, to spend time and money preparing a meal only to have your child push the plate away and refuse to even try the meal. For this, I recommend enlisting their help in the kitchen. Children are much more likely to eat the things they had a hand in preparing as a matter of accomplishment and pride. It’s psychological warfare I know but all is fair in war and dinnertime.

Quick and Easy Lunches for the Cooking Challenged

Let’s face it, cooking is not a top priority in the lives of every man, woman, or child on the planet. In fact, far too people have made learning to cook a priority in their lives. This means that we often exist on convenience foods and boxed mixes rather than taking the effort to prepare healthy meals for our families and our own personal enjoyment.

The same holds true for lunches when we often resort to a can of soup or box of macaroni and cheese or some other such product rather than putting our creative efforts into making a quick and easy yet delicious lunch. You will see many ideas in this article and the hope is that these ideas will not only get you off to a great start for ending the lunch rut we all seem to find ourselves in at some time or another but also to try new things on your own.

First of all, not all great lunches require actual cooking in order to prepare. Some of them will require the use of the microwave and some of them will need to be cooked or at least prepared before hand and reheated. The choices are virtually limitless once you understand the creative concept that must be in place. You should also find that many of these ideas are so simple you will wonder why on earth you have never thought of them. I certainly hope that some of these ideas will become main features within your own home.

Lettuce wraps. These mike delightfully delicious lunch treats and the filling can be prepared ahead of time, which leaves only reheating the filling and wrapping when you’re ready to eat. This is a fun lunch to share with your little ones and it teaches them that lettuce is much more versatile than people often give it credit for being. Some people choose to go with a teriyaki inspired filling; my family likes taco inspired fillings for our lettuce rolls. You are perfectly free to come up with a favorite filling of your very own.

Try sandwiches with different breads. Believe it or not, my children love trying new things. It’s a rare trait for which I am extremely grateful. Believe me I understand all too well how fortunate I am. My youngest however, has a little difficulty with thick or crusty bread. Her favorite sandwich choice has become Hawaiian sweet rolls. We put the meat, cheese, mustard, and pickle in her roll as if it were a bun and she’s thrilled. Other great ideas include hollowing out crusty rolls and filling them with roast beef and cheddar. You can broil this in your oven for a few minutes for a rare sandwich treat. The cooking part is very minimal and you do not have to have in depth knowledge of anything to prepare or enjoy these simple treats. Other great bread ideas include croissants with ham and cheese or chicken salad, taco pitas (another great favorite in our household), and paninis (this works really well if you have a George Foreman grill or a panini press).

While this is by no means the end all be all guide to cooking quick and easy lunches it is good food for thought. The hope is that this will get your own creative juices flowing so that you can prepare wonderful lunches for your family without needing to do too terribly much heavy cooking in the process.