5 Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas That Kids Will Love
While it’s no small task, planning meals on a weekly basis is one of the best ways to help your family eat healthy and save money. Giving advanced thought to grocery shopping also helps you avoid the stress of coming up with a quick answer when your kids inevitably ask, “What’s for dinner?” And to encourage the younger (and perhaps pickier) eaters in your home to try new foods, get them involved in the kitchen by spending an afternoon cooking together.
Here are five meal prepping ideas to help teach your kids about nutrition - and savings.
Bake-at-Home Chicken Tenders
Baked alternatives to fast food favorites are a popular and healthier dinner option for kids. For example, try the Lean Green Bean’s Freezer Chicken Tender recipe. To save, opt for a bulk purchase of chicken. Getting larger value packs of chicken is one way to teach kids the savings principle of buying larger quantities at a lower price.
Once you’re home from the grocery store, separate the larger pack into smaller portions. Younger children can help by mixing the dry ingredients for the breading together while you take care of handling the meat and eggs. Place the tenders in freezer bags when done.
The versatility of tacos makes them another easy meal prep idea for kids. Use anything from black beans to ground turkey as your base, adding veggies, cheese and other toppings depending on what your family prefers. It’s easy to make large portions of filling and toppings and store them separately, so dinner prep becomes a simple assembly line, with each family member customizing their own tacos.
Baked nachos are a kid-friendly dinner alternative to tacos. Allowing your kids to choose the vegetables and other toppings is a quick and easy way to personalize this dish to their preferences and get them involved in cooking. Nachos can be assembled, refrigerated and popped into the oven a few minutes before go time. Just make sure you store salsa, sour cream and other liquids on the side.
Pizza dough can be purchased or made from scratch to serve as the foundation for a wide range of healthy meals. It can be stored in the freezer for long periods of time until needed. Whether you make one large pizza or individual mini pizzas for each person, let your kids choose their favorite toppings before baking. If you’re looking for creative additions, try this ham and cheese pizza recipe from Cooking Light, which includes apple slices for a touch of sweetness.
Healthy Mac and Cheese
Pasta is an easy go-to meal for busy families and kids love mac and cheese. But it’s also a less-than-healthy meal. Fortunately, a few tweaks can make it that much more nutritious. For example, you can add in frozen vegetables like broccoli. Want to go even healthier? Try this casserole-size creamy butternut squash mac and cheese recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny. One large batch can carry your family through several weeknight meals.
Breakfast for Dinner
Chances are that your kids cheer when you suggest breakfast for dinner. So next time you make pancakes or waffles for weekend brunch, freeze the leftovers and serve with berries or bananas for a fast mid-week dinner. If you’re looking for something with extra kid-appeal, try mini-pancakes on skewers, as featured by The Worktop. Make smaller pancakes and place them on skewers between strawberries, bananas or whatever fruit is currently in season.
The key to healthy and inexpensive meal prepping is choosing recipes with versatility. If you start with a basic dinner and shop for fruit or veggies in season, you’ll find ways to liven up your kid-friendly meals while still saving money.