Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meals for Week of January 24, 2011

So we've reached a point in the school year where packing lunches and snacks are becoming a challenge.  Mostly because my 12 year old is getting picky and bored.  My biggest challenge with her is having variety and keeping her from costing me a fortune in food.  Unfortunately her palate is solely designed for expensive junky snack foods.  I take responsibility for that in some part because in her early years I often took the easy way and had too many "kid friendly" processed foods.  In spite of always cooking and mostly from scratch, it was always a quick kid meal (like frozen chicken nuggets) or simple pasta for her and then all sorts of various crackers and such in the pantry.  So it's a long road to recovery and getting her to try and like healthier options.
One source of inspiration for me is the Easy Lunch Boxes website.  I wrote about them back in the fall when I purchased them.  The site has a photo gallery of lunches packed in the boxes; there are tons of photos and lots of great ideas.

Then I went back through some of my old e-mealplanning newsletters because I know I had referenced articles or written up tips and ideas before but I clearly had not been putting them to use in my house.  So this week I want to share this quick list of ideas that are flexible for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

  • Control what is in your child’s oatmeal instead of the pre-flavored kind- make plain oatmeal and mix in apple sauce and cinnamon yourself.
  • Mash some banana with crunchy peanut or almond butter, spread on a whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle with chopped apple.  Roll it up and you have a great snack or breakfast on the go.
  • Toast bagels or English muffins, spread a little cream cheese and top with sliced strawberries or bananas
  • Mix-ins for apple sauce: add some crunch to regular apple sauce like sliced almonds, granola or cereal like Chex, oat squares or Life.  Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or a pumpkin pie spice blend for additional flavor.
  • Microwave a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to make it thin, drizzle it over thin slices of apple.  Top it with other slices fruit, or nuts or shredded coconut.  It’s like sweet, fruity nachos!
Please share any of your ideas with me, I need them!

Meals for the Week of January 24, 2011

Italian Chicken Soup- This is quite quick to make and very tasty.  I made it with boneless chicken breasts, which made it a little less labor intensive and it still had a good taste.  If you’re looking for something different than the usual chicken soup, give this a try.  Not to mention it’s very low calorie. 

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions-  An easy pasta sauce.  No garlic, no seasonings.  The key is good tomatoes and the butter makes it rich.  Don’t be too worried about the butter, if you’re only eating a 1 cup or even a little less than one cup of sauce, it’s under 200 calories.  Have it over whole wheat pasta for good added fiber.

Shrimp Tacos- A nice change from regular beef or turkey tacos and the lime tastes so good with the shrimp.   You can save time if you want and use your own favorite pico de gallo; Costco and Trader Joe’s sell good mango versions.

Beef Stew with Noodles- The key to this recipe is to cut the meat into small pieces which allows it to cook quicker.  Stew meat you find in the store will be cut in larger cubes and would need more cooking time to get tender, so cut them into smaller pieces.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Pecans- I like to take this up a notch with a little browned butter, because it tastes so good with the squash.  However, the olive oil is healthier.

Easy Skillet Cheese Topped Chili Macaroni- Very inexpensive dish, not many ingredients and you could keep these items on hand to make any variation of this dish anytime.  Lighten it up using ground turkey and whole wheat pasta.

Green Bean, Ham and Cheese Frittata- This is traditionally a breakfast or brunch item but I believe this is the sort of meal you can fix when you’re low on groceries or trying to stretch your food budget.  Add a salad or tomato soup for additional veggies and to make it a little more filling. 

Crock Pot Taco Soup- There are A LOT of variations of taco soup recipes- I share this one because it’s really easy to throw together, it does use seasoning mixes which as I’ve said before I’m not always a fan of, you just need to be aware of the extra additives and sodium content.

Orzo with Chicken Corn and Green Beans- This can be a great cold lunch salad, but you could eat it hot too.  It’s perfect for using leftover chicken and leftover veggies if you wanted to.  Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese when serving or toss in some crumbled feta. 

Side Dishes
Spinach Salad with Almonds and Kumquats- This winter salad is a great source of all kinds of “super foods”.  Besides tasting great, citrus aids in the absorption of iron from the spinach.  If you can’t easily find kumquats, use the little Clementine oranges that are in season right now.

Garlicky Greens- Very simple method for making quick, sautéed greens of your choice; spinach, chard or kale.

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