Meal Planning with Kids

Post by Adrienne of Susie Makes Supper

020515-cooking-with-kids“Mom, what’s for dinner?” used to be the question that I loathed most in the world. I knew that regular meal planning could save me sixteen unnecessary trips to the grocery store each week. Even so, the thought of actually sitting down and creating a meal plan remained overwhelming.Meal Planning with Kids 2

The sheer volume of writing about meal planning does not make the actual planning any easier. Most often, meal planning is a pretty solitary experience. Gather your recipes. Make a list. Make a schedule. I know very few meal planners who engage their families in the process of meal planning. The truth? It is amazing how much easier meal planning is (and how many fewer meal time battles you will suffer) when everyone is included in the process. This does not mean resigning yourself to hot dogs and mac and cheese every night. Believe it or not, you can feed your family healthy, simple meals by planning them together.Meal Planning with Kids 3

Let me let you in on a little secret. Kids love the kitchen. Do you know what else they love? Kids love to eat whatever it is that they cook. The same enthusiasm is true of meals that kids plan. Here are a few great ways to get started meal planning with kids:

  1. Develop a meal planning template specific to your family. You don’t need to cook something different every night. There is a reason that Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday are both popular things on the Internet. Who doesn’t love a taco? It is perfectly ok to jump on the theme night bandwagon for a few easier planning options. Better yet, pick a category of cooking for each weeknight that works for your family. Sports practice on Wednesday nights? Try making Wednesday your slow cooker day. Tend to lose your steam in the kitchen by Thursday? That makes Thursday an excellent night for leftovers. You can chose a theme that is as simple as a single ingredient (chicken or pasta) that everyone in the family likes.
  2. Make a “Family Favorites” recipe list. Over dinner one night, ask each member of your family to identify their favorite meals. Make a list (or better yet, a binder) of all of those favorite recipes to keep handy. Once or twice a week, you can incorporate a family favorite into your meal plan. (Friday Family Favorite Night? I think yes.)
  3. Incorporate Kid Choice Night. This can be as simple as letting one of your kids chose a vegetable, side, or main dish for your meal. Even better, let them chose the whole meal. This is a great way to teach your kids the practice of a balanced plate. Multiple kids? Great. Every Monday night, one of them gets to pick the menu. Four kids? Perfect. You’ve got a month of Monday nights covered.
  4. Breakfast for dinner is a thing. And it is very good. I haven’t met a kid yet who won’t scarf down eggs and bacon and French toast when served for dinner. Serve breakfast for dinner with a fruit (and spinach) smoothie and you are on your way to Mom of the Year.
  5. Head to the library. Kid-focused cookbooks come in all types. The best way to start with kids’ cookbooks is to borrow them from the library to get a feel for whether your kids like the concept and whether you like the recipes. Most recently published kid-centered cookbooks are good at including meals that are both healthy and kid-friendly. Many kid-focused magazines (also available at the library) also include recipes geared towards kids. Kid cookbooks and magazines are an excellent way to introduce new types of food.
  6. Order from your local CSA. The scary thing about ordering a produce box from your local CSA is that you never know what is going to be in it. The fun thing about ordering a produce box from your local CSA is that you never know what is going to be in it. Order that your produce box then create a family challenge to use the ingredients.
  7. Hand your kid a cookbook and a pad of sticky notes. When all else fails, hand your kid any cookbook in your kitchen or even a food magazine with a pile of sticky notes. We have tried more recipes than I can count using this method with our teens, and some of those recipes are now on our family favorites list.

Meal planning with kids can be stressful but it can also be fun. The successes can be huge when kids are involved in the kitchen and the failures can be memorable. Most important? Have fun. Enjoy the meal as a family from start to finish.

Have any more great ideas to get kids engaged in the kitchen? I’d love to hear them!

Adrienne is a compulsive list-maker with a very busy family and a not very clean house. She’s also a planner and a recovering perfectionist. Adrienne blogs at Susie Makes Supper, where she gives weekly meal plans and shows her successes and failures in the kitchen.

Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts

Post by Corri McFadden of Glitter & Bubbles

Instead of buying candy hearts from the store this year, make your own yummy version! Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts are best way to capture the spirit of Valentine’s Day and it’s much more fun creating your own.

Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts

Ingredients

  • ¾ teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • ¼ cup clear soda (we used Sprite)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Food coloring
  • Peppermint extract

 

 

How to Make Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts

1. Start by combining the soda and powdered gelatin in a mixing bowl. Stand by for approximately 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve into the soda.

2. Next, microwave on high for 30 seconds, this will melt the gelatin entirely so you won’t see any grainy pieces

Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts 23. With a hand mixer, add the powdered sugar slowly, ¼ cup at a time. Continue to add the powdered sugar until the dough is stiff. It will be a little sticky, but if it’s extremely sticky, don’t be afraid to add a bit more powdered sugar.

4. Next, dust powdered sugar on a clean surface and being rolling out the dough. Cut the dough into sections according to how many color you want to use.

5. Once you’ve sectioned out your dough, sprinkle it with your choice of food coloring and peppermint extract.Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts 36. Knead the dough until the flavors and colors are fully combined.

7. Roll out the dough so it is about ¼ inch thick, then cut out the shapes using mini heart cookie cutters.

8. After you have cut out the hearts, place them on a piece of parchment paper and allow them to dry 48 hours, flipping them over every so often.

Homemade Valentines Candy Hearts 4

These candy hearts make delicious treats all on their own or as a festive garnish for your Valentine’s Day cupcakes!

Corri McFadden is the owner and founder of eDrop-Off Luxury Consignment.  As a Style Expert and successful blogger, she hosts a weekly fashion segment on Chicago’s “You and Me This Morning”, and features “Style Recipes”, videos and Fashion “Must Haves” on her self-titled lifestyle website Corri McFadden.  Most recently, she launched Glitter and Bubbles, a modern day moms guide for those looking for inspiration through fashion, food and décor.

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

Post by Corri McFadden of Glitter & Bubbles
Valentine's Day CupcakesAny cupcake covered in sprinkles is the perfect snack to send out with your little one for Valentine’s Day! Sweet frosting covered with pink hearts is not only irresistible but immediately conveys your message of “I Love You” and your tummy is about to love me back!

 To create these super cute Valentine’s Day Cupcakes you need cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water, frosting, and red and pink sprinkles.

Valentine's Day Cupcakes - Ingredients Combine the cake mix, vegetable oil, water, and eggs together to create the batter.

Valentine's Day Cupcakes 2Place the cupcake liners in the tins and fill with about ¾ of the way with cake mix. Make sure to leave room at the top! Pop them in the oven and bake with the corresponding time on the cake mix box.

Valentine's Day Cupcakes 2After the cupcakes are done baking, allow them to cool completely before frosting. Frost the cupcakes as preferred, top with a fun assortment of sprinkles, and serve!

Valentine's Day Cupcakes 4Corri McFadden is the owner and founder of eDrop-Off Luxury Consignment. As a style expert and successful blogger, she hosts a weekly fashion segment on Chicago’s “You and Me This Morning” and features more tips and tricks on her website and her site for Mom, Glitter and Bubbles.

Valentine’s Day Mocktail

Post by Rebecca of Not-So-SAHM Valentine's Day MocktailI know that lots of people out there are over Valentine’s Day, and I get that we don’t need a holiday to tell people we love them. But I love to take a little extra time on this holiday to show my kiddos just how special we think they are. It can’t hurt, right?! And nothing says celebration more to my loves than a kiddie Valentine’s Day mocktail — they think instant party! So I came up with an easy, not too sweet, Valentine’s Heart Mocktail. It technically even has fruit in it (and those pretty pomegranate seeds rise up and down with the bubbles, making for an even more fun treat).

Valentine’s Day Mocktail

Ingredients:

  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • Heart-shaped ice cube tray
  • Sparkling apple juice
  • Pink sparkling sugar**

 Directions:

  1. Place pomegranate seeds in ice cube tray; fill with water and freeze overnight.
  2. Wet rim of glass and roll in pink sparkling sugar.
  3. Fill glass with pomegranate heart ice cubes.
  4. Pour sparkling apple juice over the top. Spread the love!
  5. **To make pink sparkling sugar, mix 1/4 cup sugar and a few drops of food coloring together. spread onto baking sheet and bake in a 180 F oven for 5-10 minutes.

Valentine's Day Mocktail 2Valentine's Day Mocktail 3Valentine's Day Mocktail 4

Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. A relatively recent SAHM, she blogs family-friendly activities, DIYs and celebration fun at Not-So-SAHM.