Dinner: Kid Created and Under $15

Let’s just say it’s been one of those weeks, the bills keep trying to get my attention as I “file” them in the corner again, the laundry room and all my baskets are full of laundry (including my cape) and the refrigerator is empty.

Now it’s 5:00 p.m., work is done and I’m going to pick up the kids while trying to figure out what’s for dinner. The first challenge I face is I’m tired, but I don’t want to go through the drive-thru and get junk. My family is just getting over the “feels like it’s been a month-long” cold, and they need something nutritious. My 2nd challenge is I haven’t “balanced the books” and don’t want to spend a whole lot of money. Third and most challenging challenge (like that?) is making something the kids will eat without a whole lot of dessert bribery and “sucking the fun and effort out of dinner” frustrations and persuasion. Final challenge is to make something quickly because everyone is hungry now!

I arrive with an idea and load my precious cargo (ages 5 and 2) into the car. While we’re driving, I tell the kids I have something very important that I need their help with. I ask them if they can each pick out an ingredient at the market for tonight’s supper. My goal is to pique their interest in eating dinner and boost those little egos by being a proud contributor to dinner. So, with my under $15 challenge, I walk into the local organic market, kids in tow.

Riley’s pick: yellow corn & whole grain brown rice cakes. Hmmmmm, not sure what to do with it, but put it in the basket! He was very excited to find popcorn already popped in the bag. Next pick: jellybeans. I regretfully put back those magical, delicious sugary beans as we have enough treats at home. Taylor’s picks: apples, coconut water and colorful fusilli noodles.

We left the store and came out $6.22 lighter. Not bad, but still no clue what my random ingredients would amount to.

While I made dinner, the kids had rice cake appetizers (wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fit that in!) Riley loved the rice cakes, and I think it’s partly because he picked them out. So that’s one challenge overcome! Taylor preferred hers with a little peanut butter.

Next I boiled the noodles. I didn’t have any veggies, as the produce pickings were slim, but was reassured by the beautiful red, yellow, green and orange fusilli noodles made with veggies. Then I found some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge (Score!) and sautéed in an olive oil sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and Parmesan.

The results:

Although not too fancy, dinner was made in about 15 minutes. I kept it simple, as my kids prefer plain noodles. They are also avid “dippers” so I gave them honey for dipping their chicken, along with a side of apples. The kids pretty much cleaned their plates, but they both requested something else to drink. Even though coconut water is very good for you, I couldn’t blame them.

All in all, it was a success. We spent $10.22 (I guesstimated $4.00 for the chicken), bought local, tried something new, ate healthy and have uncooked noodles for another dish. What next? Maybe I’ll wash my cape.

15 –Minute, Market-Run Menu (kid-picked and mother-approved):
Appetizer: Rice Cakes
Dinner: Pasta and chicken in an olive oil-parmesan sauce
Side: Sliced apples
Condiment: Honey
Beverage: Coconut water (combined with some juice for tastiness)

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