Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wanted: Chef to Cook for Ravenous Kids

For me, one of the hardest parts of being a parent is the cooking. Day in and day out, I have to constantly and consistently serve meals and snacks to the kids. It seems like my kids are also at the age where they are having growth spurts and they are asking for snacks more frequently than they used to. It feels like I always have a kid saying they're hungry right after I just fed them!

What then, would be the problem? I am trying to eliminate processed foods from our diet. That means no quick-fix meals like cheesy pastas and rices, open-a-can-and-heat soups, chips and cheese puffs, frozen snacks like chicken nuggets and taquitos. In other words, almost everything I make and serve is from scratch. I like the way we eat and I believe we are healthier for it, but it does leave me drained of ideas and I find myself in the kitchen more often. I can only make PB&J's so many times before they go on strike!

Another issue is the hours my husband has for work. Some days he works in the mornings, which I prefer, and he is home at night for dinner. The days he works evenings I find the hardest, because I make a late, large lunch, since he'll be missing dinner with us, and then I have to think of something to make for a light dinner with the kids later on. They aren't big meat eaters and my Middle is the picky eater of the bunch, and Youngest will watch her and then follow suit even if it is her favorite. argh!

I try and solve the snack problem by making large batches of certain things-- oatmeal cookies with dried apples or raisins, tortilla chips, and popcorn, to name a few. I also try to keep fresh fruit and vegetables available, but I am amazed at how quickly they get eaten up and they very rarely last more than a few days and then I am caught without until the next shopping trip. On a tight budget and a once-a-week grocery trip, buying more or going more often is not an option.

We came up with some extra money last week and I promptly planned a trip to the warehouse store. We purposely went during lunch time and we noshed on all the yummy food samples they offered. We left with nice full tummies and a cart full of stuff. I can easily spend $500 there in one shot, but we can't do that anymore, and I have to be choosy and stingy and get only what we absolutely need. "Honey, we need a 5 gallon bottle of olive oil, don't we? We just have to have that 8 pound jar of maraschino cherries! Look it! A big box of cotton balls, we gotta get that!" No, our shopping trip was more like: "Toilet paper- $11.99; eggs- $3.49; ham-$8.99; that's about $25 so far, $75 to go...oh wait, more like $70, can't forget the tax!"

We have our weekly shopping trip tomorrow, and I am planning to get a few extra items to make our own version of trail mix. If it's a hit, and I think it will be, I hope it will be enough to keep their tummies filled between meals. What do you give your kids for snacks? I could use some fresh ideas.


IndianaJones said...

I sympathize with the hours your husband is at work issue. Colin often works nights and we end up snacking for dinner rather than having a real meal...just feels odd to make a meal for just Indy and I...
I doubt I have any real fresh ideas for snacks. We don't do processed foods here either so usually it is apple slices with peanut butter or I bake Banana bread or molasses bread with butter...that is usually a hit. We do make granola with Grandma once a month or so and she has that constantly...with milk or yogurt. Also boiled eggs are a favorite and with so much protein they fill her up with very little prep on my part. Often I slice cheese sticks for her to eat with a banana or some other bite of fruit. Also we do tea a few times a day during this cooler rainy season which I think helps keep her filled up without too much food. She likes peppermint tea with honey best.
I'm sure as she gets older and more ravenous and her sister catches up and wants more too I will have to expand but for now it is working out alright...I'll probably be coming back to you with the same question in a few years! Good Luck~

jenny said...

Summer-- I feel the same, cooking a full meal for just me and the kids seems weird. I could and then save the leftovers for Hubby to take to work, except there is no where for him to heat it up, so there's no point in doing that. I make noodle soup a lot and add in bits of meat and vegetables, but I'M starting to get tired of noodle soup! I could eat grilled cheese everyday (yummo!) but the girls don't share my love for it (dang it!).

I saw your granola post and I was inspired by that. I'll be trying that out soon.

I don't think I've ever made boiled eggs except for when I make deviled eggs. I used to love egg sandwiches. Hmmm I may make that for one of our dinners without Hubby one night! See-- you did inspire me! :o)

barefoot gardener said...

I like the idea of the trail mix...lots of natural fats and proteins to fill up those little tummies!

I don't have too much in the way of ideas for you, though... everything I would have tried is already listed as something you have done. The only thing I do is make tons (and I mean TONS) of Jello at a time and put it in small Gladware containers for the Sprouts and the Mr. It is cheap, and gives the Sprouts a "treat" in between meals when they have snack attacks. I don't know how you would feel about all that sugar, though. You could use it to stretch your fresh fruit, though. Just add the fruit to the jello, and it would be more filling AND use less fruit at a sitting....

Sorry I couldn't be more help.

jenny said...

Barefoot-- I make Jello once in a while. The kids like it but the younger two won't eat it when I add fruit to it. hmph! I love mandarin oranges in Jello! yum! That's a good idea, though, making a bunch and separating into smaller containers. It's been a while since I made Jello, so looks like it is time to make some more! Thanks for the suggestion! :o) said...

Did you say trail mix? Yummy! I used to make up homemade trail mix and send it to Josh when he was deployed. Makes for a great care package!!!


lady macleod said...

When Q was wee she had three of her little friends over. Julie said, "My mom makes the best roast."

Meg said, "My mom makes the best apple pie."

Jan said, "My mom makes the best beans."

MY child said, "My mom makes the best reservations."

Everyone has a gift.

Lantana said...

Gee I wish I could help you out with some ideas. But I was raised, "No eating between meals", and while I certainly changed that with my own kids, I usually stuck with healthful foods. But then my kids were not raised with a t.v.! Yes we had a t.v. but it seems like that was for evening hours only. When someone did venture out with "I' m hungry" I always said, "Eat a carrot" or raisins, or something that was easily attainable. I recall making Rice Krispies snacks. Cookies were always Oatmeal and Raisin. To this day, my adult children HATE raisins!!

We had no microwave popcorn and if the kids wanted popcorn they had to do it the old fashioned way. And they did it themselves. Times have changed. Now that your t.v. has "died" perhaps there will be less snacking?

Hugs, Lantana