I have five children with various taste buds, so finding meals that everyone enjoys can be a battle. On top of that, finding meals that won’t break my budget and are easy to prepare seems impossible. Through the years I have discovered that keeping it simple and letting the kids have some options makes for a happier meal time. The meals below have become staples in our home, and the best thing is they never get old because with a few ingredient changes, the meal seems different.
We often have sandwich nights where the kids get to build their own. We set it up like a restaurant bar where they get to construct their own sandwich with various deli meats and toppings. If we are feeling extra fancy, we will cut the sandwiches in half and put a toothpick through an olive on top. BLT’s, French dip and egg salad sandwiches are a hit as well. The kids get a sandwich just the way they want it and they love that they got to make it themselves.
Soup and sandwich night is also fun for us. This typically involves a grilled cheese sandwich with some variety of soup. In the summer, you could pair a sandwich of your choice with some fruit. Or better yet, let the kids make a fruit salad.
My kids love breakfast for dinner. We will have a pancake bar where they get to build their own pancake. The toppings can vary depending on your families preferences, but we often do apples, maple syrup, powdered sugar and cinnamon. You could also have them make face pancakes using various fruits and whipped cream.
Another breakfast favorite are homemade Egg McMuffins. We use English Muffins, eggs, cheese and a meat. We have used Canadian Bacon, sausage and bacon in the past. The eggs work best when cooked in a muffin pan or ramekin in the oven. This makes them perfectly round for the English Muffin. Pair this with a side of grits (yes, we’re southern), extra bacon or hash browns and dinner, well breakfast, is served.
Mexican food is a weekly occurrence in our house and it never fails to be a hit with my kids. We have done Mexican rice, taco soup, enchiladas, nachos, burritos … basically a Mexican restaurant menu. However, a taco bar (yes, another bar) is the simplest and yet, most loved way to serve Mexican food. And you guessed it, I line up all the food and the kids make their own tacos. We have chips, salsa and guacamole on the side and cheese dip if we’re feeling really festive.
This wouldn’t be a family-friendly meal list without the hallmark of all meals, pizza. One thing I have discovered is there is less chaos and arguing when everyone has an individual pizza. So, each child has an individual sized pizza crust and they take turns making their own. Then, we rotate them cooking in the oven and everyone gets to enjoy their very own pizza. This is a little more time consuming, so we generally save this for a weekend meal.
A salad bar, the bar of all bars. This is where our love for food bars originated. I discovered I can get a variety of veggies in my kids through a salad bar. They don’t mind the numerous veggies as long as I have some ‘fun’ items on the bar like pepperoni and diced ham. I will line the items up according to food groups to ensure they pick a few veggies from the veggie section and not ‘accidently’ skip over those. Veggies are strategically placed immediately after the lettuce so they build with the key ingredients.
These are our tried and true meals that all of my kids enjoy, are easy for me to prepare and are budget-friendly. Often times, I can sandwich (no pun intended) the less liked meals between these family favorite meals to cut down on the complaints. If tonight’s roast and veggies aren’t your favorite, well then look forward to tomorrow night because it’s pancake night!