Author Topic: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook  (Read 950 times)

Hula Hoop

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I've got yet more fish sticks in the oven as I write this.  Had a hard/crappy day at work.  Got home late and there's nothing much in the fridge.  In the freezer we had fish sticks, frozen ravioli and frozen chicken breasts.  So I'm cooking the fish sticks, boiling some more of the enormous bag of potatoes we got from a friend whose family has a potato farm and steaming some winter veggies that were in the crisper (broccoli and brussels sprouts).   

Does anyone else have tips for kid friendly meals when no one has any energy at all to cook and there's not a lot in the fridge?  Our go tos are pasta plus salad, scrambled eggs/omelette, frittata and toast with raw veg on the side or fish sticks plus veg and carb but it's getting really boring.

ETA - and does anyone have any good potato recipes?  We have to get through a huge bag of (really delicious) potatoes. So far, we've had baked potatoes, boiled and French friend potatoes.  I may make a potato soup on the weekend.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 12:00:41 PM by Hula Hoop »

I'm a red panda

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2019, 12:02:41 PM »
Bowl of cereal? Breakfast for dinner-eggs or pancakes?  I personally think it's fine to have an unbalanced meal every now and again. 

Potatoes? I'm going with baked potatoes, but basically anything on top of them, doesn't have to be traditional toppings.
Here's some inspiration: (Scroll down to Classic Potatoes and beyond)
http://www.potatoshackhuntsville.com/menu/

TOgirl

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2019, 12:23:58 PM »
I often do "picnic" dinner for them if I don't feel like cooking. I get a 12 cup muffin tin out, or a large plate and I go through the food groups - I add things like cut up cheeses, naan/bread/crackers, a couple fruits cut up, several vegetables cut up, hummus/dip, and sometimes pepperoni/turkey/salami slices rolled up. When I do this, I cut up too much on purpose, and use it towards their lunches the next day. Sometimes they love it just at the table, or when the weather is warm we take it out in the backyard to make an actual picnic.

They are also keen on smoothies for dinner sometimes - I use baby spinach, frozen avocado chunks, frozen mango and raspberries, with almond milk, yogurt and a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and a few ice cubes - blend it all up and they never complain.

Another easy one is letting them make their own naan or pita pizzas with salad on the side.

cats

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2019, 12:51:38 PM »
Omelet is a go-to for us also.

Pizza (using a tortilla, english muffin, or pita bread as the base) and quesadilla are also popular.  I now periodically make big batches of tomato sauce and freeze ice cubes of them for making these little pizzas in the toaster oven.

bean burgers or bean and rice burgers: mash beans (or beans & rice) with an egg, form into patties and saute in pan.  You could probably make bean and potato burgers also. 

We cook a lot of soup/curry/stew in our instant pot for the adults, these are not always kid-friendly just due to requiring more dexterity with fork/spoon than a toddler typically possesses.  I've now started using whatever the adults are having as a filling for omelets or pita bread, a sauce for rice and beans, topping aforementioned bean burgers, etc.

Omy

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2019, 01:28:18 PM »
Potato hash (with corn, peppers, onions...whatever you feel like)
Scallopped potatoes
Hash browns
Gnocchi
Potato pancakes

StarBright

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2019, 01:41:38 PM »
Yogurt, piece of fruit or cherry tomatoes, and some slices of ham or summer sausage is a meal that both of my children love and feel like they are getting a treat when I give it to them.

I plan it whenever my husband is going out of town!

lhamo

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2019, 03:21:15 PM »
https://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/crash-hot-potatoes/

When I make them I smash the potatoes as flat as I can and don't bother with extra oil on the top.

Our kid friendly easy meals are:

Quesadillas with veggie slices or fruit on the side
Toasted cheese sandwiches with the same
Pasta with frozen Costco beef meatballs and jarred sauce
Roasted or fried chicken from Costco or the supermarket, veggie sticks and hummus on the side
Frozen pizza
Ramen with whatever meat and veg we have on hand
Burritos (I make large batches of shredded beef cooked with a jar of salsa and keep the leftovers in the freezer)
Frozen Chinese dumplings

CNM

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2019, 03:33:36 PM »
Potato bread - either as a loaf or as buns.

For a kid-friendly meal that is not pasta, my kid really likes Indian masala and curries.  This is what I do:
- buy a jar or premade sauce.  Sometimes called "simmer sauce".
- put some raw chicken in my instant pot and put the sauce in there too.  Maybe a cut up onion. Maybe a can of coconut milk if I need more liquid in there.
- pressure cook for 20 minutes (this is what i do when i use frozen chicken)
- eat!
optional: After the pressure cooking is done, add garbanzo beans, add frozen vegetables, and serve with a side of rice.

My kid, who is 6, also really likes soup.  Particularly chicken and vegetable soups, sometimes with rice, pasta, or tortellini.  This is what I do:
- in a large pot or in instant pot, fry chopped onion, celery, and carrot just until soft. (Mirepoix)
- Add either raw chicken or left over already cooked chicken, as well as a bunch of water, chicken stock, or water + chicken bouillon. I also like to add a bay leaf, some salt and pepper, or whatever other seasonings I have and like. 
- cook until the chicken is cooked through. In a pressure cooker, using frozen chicken, 20 mins.  If not using a pressure cooker, add whatever other vegetables you have on hand, keeping aware that softer vegetables, like zucchini, will cook much faster than cauliflower. Likewise, frozen veg will cook faster than raw veg. Optional: Add rice or pasta (cooked or uncooked).  Note- do not pressure cook rice!  it does not turn out well.
-eat!
I know the above sounds difficult, but it really isn't.  It's just a matter of dumping things in at various times and letting it sit.  There's not a lot of hands on time.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 03:44:54 PM by CNM »

Boofinator

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 03:42:21 PM »
Regarding potatoes: I'm not sure what the specific cooking style is called, but if you oil a pan, slice the potatoes using a mandoline (thin), place them in a single layer on the pan, brush some oil on top, then bake at 350 to 400 F, they come out super yummy. That's what we've been doing lately.

As others have said, it is ok to do a lazy meal every once in a while. Just don't make it a habit.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2019, 03:43:23 PM »
My children survive almost entirely on apples and peanut and broccoli and hummus. They do not like entrees.

They do eat tacos, though, which are very easy :-).

CNM

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Unique User

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 05:11:40 AM »
Back when DH traveled M-F, I used to do ramen with frozen veggies and top with a poached egg, green onions and a squirt of sriracha.  Middle school DD loved it.  I'd also make a batches of mini meatloaves (cooked in a muffin tin) or shredded chicken in the crockpot for the freezer so I could just pull things out.  Lots of crockpot dump style meals on the internet, I'd make up those on weekends for the freezer so I could just pull something out and put the whole thing in the crockpot without having to think.  DH normally was not a fan of the those, but he also wasn't around during the week. And a box of mac and cheese from the pantry plus some frozen veggies is not the end of the world. 

ANewLeaf

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 08:22:21 PM »
Our go-tos are:
Pancakes with yogurt and fruit
Bean or scrambled egg burritos (add whatever cheese and veggies your kids will tolerate, plus salsa)
Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (canned, boxed, or made quickly with canned diced tomatoes and a hand blender, lots of easy recipes online)
Canned baked beans on toast with raw veg on the side

Our current heavy rotation are "sheet pan" meals--google for lots of ideas. Basically its a cookie sheet of chopped potatoes and veggies (we use sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, etc, squash, carrots, beets, etc are also good) in the oven at 400 or so for 10-15 mins, then add a protein to the same pan to finish off.  We keep good quality sausages in the freezer, salmon, you can do pork chops, any chicken pieces, tofu, all kinds of things.  It's awesome cause it's always tasty, relatively quick, totally brainless once in the oven, and everyone can pick their favorite veg out of the mix, which makes it easy for lots of different taste buds.

nessness

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2019, 07:00:52 PM »
Veggie dogs with steamed vegetables
Scrambled egg tacos/burritos/sandwiches with fruit
Pasta with pesto
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Quesadillas
Madras lentils with instant brown rice
Pizzas with pita bread as the "crust"

(I don't know if pesto and Madras lentils are classically kid-friendly but both my kids like them)

meandmyfamily

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Re: Kid friendly meals for when you have absolutely no energy to cook
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2019, 04:16:17 PM »
My kids love potato soup!

Bean burritos are our go to.  I make a big pot of pinto beans in the IP and freeze half.  We always have the fixings for burritos/bean quesadillas.  We can also turn it into nachos, tacos or huevos rancheros.