With the tough economy and parents working more hours, you’re likely looking for easy meals your kids will love, but that don’t cost a fortune. Here are some tried and true ideas that may help:
- Homemade chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s a cinch to make chicken noodle soup. Grill a couple of chicken breasts (or use leftovers, doing double duty with your cooking), use leftover spaghetti or other pasta and throw it into a pot of boiling water and chicken base (buillion cubes work too, but add sodium). Throw in some fresh parsley and you have a soup that looks like it took hours. You can also add in some hidden veggies such as celery and carrots. With the grilled cheese, this meal costs just a few dollars for your entire family. In a rush? Grab a family sized can of tomato soup instead.
- Pasta and almost homemade bread. Pasta is an easy and quick meal, not to mention inexpensive. It is also fast to make. Plan ahead by pulling some frozen bread dough out of the freezer (available in the frozen bread section of your local grocer) and letting thaw while you’re out for the day. Dinner will be quick. Pop the bread into the oven for about 30 minutes. While the bread is baking, boil some water. When the water comes to a boil, throw in the noodles. The sauce can be as simple as opening a can. We like Hunt’s canned pasta sauce best and it is only around $1.00 a can, but there are many varieties and all price ranges. Add frozen, preformed meatballs, if desired. This meal will run from As little as $3.00 to as much as $10.00, depending upon ingredient choices and if you catch items on sale.
- Hamburger Mac. Brown one pound of ground beef in a skillet. While the meat is browning, bring water to boil and add in one box of mac and cheese. We prefer Velveeta shells and cheese for this recipe, but the choice is yours. Drain both well and mix together. Add some veggies and cut up fruit to make this dish a bit healthier. Around $5.00 for the entire family plus cost of veggies and fruit.
- Leftover Nights. Many kids don’t like meat anyway. Use up leftovers and items you might normally throw away and save a bundle. We call this our “Hodge Podge” meal. You can use muffin baking pans (12 cups in each) and make up little bits of this and that. Kids truly love this. Add in a few treats, such as some Skittles in one muffin slot. This is a great way to use up those two leftover tablespoons of mac and cheese or small amount of applesauce left in the bottom of the jar. Each tin does not have to be the same. Cost varies, but is typically free, because you’d throw these items out anyway.
I’ll have more ideas for feeding your family and saving money soon.