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Moving back in with wife and could use some cooking suggestions

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I am going to be doing some cooking for my kids who are used to just pizza and hamburgers and fast food, and that's not my style. Do any of you have suggestions?

For financial reasons, I will be moving back in with my wife and kids until I can afford to have my own place again. I've been gone two and a half years, and I intend to make some of the meals there. My wife is not a great cook, although I think she could be. She hasn't put much time into it and I can understand that.

When I start cooking for my kids (ages 11, 11, and 15) who are used to stuff that's not my style, and I don't want to totally do it the same as they are used to, what would you suggest? I want to make it both healthier and more varied, but I also want them to eat it instead of nibbling and then later eating 2 bowls of fruit loops because they didn't have a full meal. I know I'll have to just try and see what works, but also want to know if any of you have suggestions that might help me along.
post #2 of 20
Don't push strange foods too hard. The more involved they are in preparing food the more open they'll be. You didn't mention gender. Teenage girls are as picky as cats. Don't give them the opportunity to make you more miserable than you are. You simply can not win.

Teenage boys will eat pretty much anything. Wait. Scratch the "pretty much."

It takes people awhile to develop a tolerance for food as hot, as complex, as spicy, as adventurous as you like it. If they aren't there yet, give it time. Food should be a pleasure, not a challenge. If you remember anything I ever wrote, that's the one.

You're a good cook. Just keep being a good cook.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank You, BDL.

They do like noodles, especially the ones I make from scratch, and that can be a key to success. I think the 11-yr-olds will be happy to help with making them, too. That's one angle I will use.
post #4 of 20
Fried rice would be popular.
Spaghetti and meat sauce. Hide some finely grated zucchini in it to add vegetables.
Shrimp Alfredo.
Warm them up by making some homemade pizza? With really fresh and new ingredients.
Stuffed pork chops maybe, nothing too strongly flavored if they're used to bland food.
Crispy is a texture that usually goes over well. Maybe tempura something if you want to keep it interesting?

I'm just thinking about what I would do to keep the boyfriend's little siblings happy and full.
Hope I helped some, if I come up with any other ideas, I'll let you know.

Sorry to hear the financial situations didn't pull through.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Gummy-Bear, great suggestions :D
post #6 of 20
I forgot to suggest cooking and eating outdoors as much as possible. The grill and barbecue pit (if you have one) set their own menus: Simple proteins, salads, sides and fruit based desserts. Because things are so simple and because there's so much carrying in and out, it's easy to find important things for the kids to do. It's also away from the television.

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
They do take a lot of pride in things they helped with :^) TY
post #8 of 20
Sounds like you have a challenge, but not to get overwhelmed by it.

Kids can actually be adventurous with foods, but it does take time. If they like helping, all for the better. Kids like getting messy (well mine do) so maybe try for burgers - get them to mix and shape the burgers if you think they might try, and just start simple. Introduce new things as they go along.

I've had trials getting my son (15 y.o.) to try new things, but my daughter (17 y.o.) loves to experiment. Doesn't always work but she is improving - loves my spice cupboard.

Have them toast the rolls for the burgers, get all the mustard, ketchup, S&P onto the table, toss a simple salad - iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber. They can set the table. Make them feel important and involved in the process. Heck, they'll have to do it themselves one day, and you are the man to teach and encourage them. If their mother is not inclined that way, so be it, but don't miss your chance to have a positive impact on them. It really helps in self-confidence and self reliability.

I reckon I could leave my kids for a week with a well stocked fridge and larder (well maybe 5 days) and they could fend for themselves and their father (who can cook a simple bbq or baked bean shepherds pie - tin of baked beans and instant potato mash! He's hopeless)

Maybe dishes such as:

Burgers (various meats)
Mac and Cheese
Potato bake
Stir fries with rice/noodles - let them blend some sauces - fish, oyster, soy, sweet chilli
Spag Bog - what kid doesn't like that?
Quesadillas using tortillas - they can pick toppings as they like
Tacos -again its a construct it yourself meal - so you won't be forcing them to eat something they don't like. And it good messy sit around the table fun
Make blueberry muffins - easy snack and great to eat

They can help with veg prep (depending on their age and knife skills/safeness), but peeling potatoes, carrots, tearing up lettuce, rinsing tomatoes, mashing potatoes and getting them to salt and pepper/ butter/ cheese it to taste - that way they will know to taste as they go, slicing zucchinis and cucumbers.

Just gotta start slow, keep it simple. Build on it and they'll thank you in later years. Or maybe immediately :)

Plus they can do the washing up - haha good luck with that! I tell mine - whoever cooks - doesn't wash up.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks DC! :D
post #10 of 20
Welkies Yeti - anytime.

If they like fish, once they are starting to get a bit more adventurous, maybe fish parcels in parchment or foil. I'm sure you know how it goes, easy to prepare, with a bit of care, can't go wrong or get tough. My daughter loves doing these. Nice big meaty bit of fish or shark if you can get it (the bonus of shark is no bones), some S&P, couple slices of lemon, bit of chilli sliced finely if they like heat. I like 'em with some sesame oil or oyster sauce, but that might be asking a bit much of them just yet.

Good luck with the move back in -it can't be easy, just go with the flow.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #11 of 20
The standard fish fry was always a hit when I was a kid, simple flour S&P breading. Sloppy joes are easy and good, a simple beef pot roast with potatoes and carrots goes over well (I was making this when I was 11). Have breakfast for supper once in a while with waffles or pancakes, let the kids make them.
post #12 of 20
I would second and third the motion for make-your-own tacos. The thing is to have lots of good stuff to put on, and they can try what they like. If you can get them to let their guard down, they might well start to play with their food, which, done appropriately, is precisely what you want.

If you want them to try new things, provide multiple options. You can have two kinds of salsa, and two kinds of meat, and two kinds of cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, onion, and so on, and let them try different combinations. Teenage boys would be ideal here, because they'll have to eat about 80 to be full, and will want to try variations.

If one or more of the kids is fanatical about waist-watching, provide corn tortillas: they're made without fat, unlike flour. A corn tortilla with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, and some kind of salsa is almost completely fat-free, extremely healthy, and a complete meal -- the beans have all the protein you need. A pinch of cheese or sour cream makes it sinful indulgence.

EDIT: You can do grilled meat on the tacos and cook it outdoors, if that's an option weather-wise. Tortillas also soften beautifully, and take on a nice flavor, if tossed for just a second or so per side on a hot grill.
post #13 of 20
Made from scratch:
chicken nuggets,
mac and cheese (with real cheese not powdered),
white bread,
english muffins,
refried beans,
pan cakes,
yogurt (they love watching my make yogurt),
pizza (always a hit, they could eat it everyday),
fish and chips,
potatos (mashed, baked)
fried rice (here i get to sneak in lots of veggies)

processed foods
package ramen (discard poweder and use our own chicken broth),
kosher hot dogs,
cream of wheat.

these are some of the things i make for my kidlets. All three of them have eating habits as similar as day and night. always a challenge to keep them all happy, but they seem more willing to try something when they see me make it rather than opening a box and serving it. :bounce:
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
post #14 of 20
My 3 year old daughter is a picky eater much to my dismay.

I have found that when she helps me make a dish she is thrilled to eat the whole plate.

I will share a story;

I was making a simple shrimp scampi (she has enjoyed it in the past) And she said she was not going to eat that smell. So, I pull out some ingredients from the box and ask her to smell which ones she likes. She chooses ginger in sherry,grana, and lemon for her shrimp dish.

Of course I steered her in a direction. I also had her smell red pepper, honey, smoked gouda,etc.. If you have the kid think they are making the decisions, they will enjoy what they eat.
post #15 of 20
My kid loves stinky cheese. He loves mac and cheese made with blue cheese. But he won't eat brocolli or smoked salmon. He won't eat spinach either. Kids are just a little odd. They'll develop. I read somewhere that it takes at least 10 times before they become accustomed to the taste and smell of foods.
post #16 of 20

I'd have to agree with many of the folks that posted already. We have a 10y.o. and these are the things that we get her to eat.
cheese burgers (I make McD's style from time to time)
Turkey burgers with honey mustard
Sloppy Joes
Pasta e Fragioli (this one is hit or miss with mood)
Pasta is always a no issue. Any variety, anytime.
Meatball sands
Cheese Steaks
Steak Teriyaki (American version)
Beef Stroganoff
Chimichangas (made these just last night)
Meatloaf. mashed potatoes and greenbeans cooked in ham stock
Fried Chicken
Schnitzel, sauerkraut, spaetzel
Brats on buns with fries
Eggs, especially over easy. (For breakfast of breakfast for dinner as she says)
Pancakes (same)
French toast (ditto)
Italian wedding soup
Ham steaks, Baked sweet potatoes and greenbean casserole
Picnic Chicken (cold fried or oven coated chicken with Potato salad and slaw)
Tuna noodle casserole
Chicken and rice casserole
Chicken or cheese enchiladas
Braised spare ribs, sweet and sour cabbage, German potato salad
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken tenders, mac and cheese, ambrosia salad
Corned beef and cabbage
Brats braised in sauerkraut with apples
Sides I didn't mention above can be Broccoli, cauliflower, corn (on and off the cob, peas rice (mostly jasmine)The list for entree's and sides can go on and on.......:look:
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
You people are great!

I know my kids will love working with "squishy" things like mixing meatballs and pasta dough.

They'll like choosing ingredients and helping (well at least my 11-yr-old boy-girl twins will. The 15 yr old will be a challenge, as he has tough personal challenges).

I'm planning on expanding the garden there for the kids' sake AND my own--here in central Oregon it takes a lot of effort to grow anything besides tundra crops, no matter how good the soil is, and on the west side almost anything aside from tropical plants will take off without a whole lot of work.
post #18 of 20
My wife and I raised 5 kids. 3 boys and 2 girls. I do all the cooking and my wife cleans up the kitchen. Here are a couple of simple ideas which are quick and easy. First pigs in a blanket. Buy a package of hot dogs. Buy a package of pillsbury instant bisquits. Role out the bisquit dough. Wrap it around the hot dog and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes (per package instructions on the bisquit dough) Kids love them. If you want to get some veggies into them. Try this recipe for sloppy joe. Buy a pound of hamburger, an onion, a zuchinni squash and a green pepper. Chop up the zuchinni, the onion and the green pepper really fine. Place the hamburger in a pan and cook on medium until nearly done. Add the chopped veggies and cook until tender and meat is done. Drain the fat and liquid then add salt and pepper to taste. Then add about a cup of katchup, one fourth cup of mustard, one fourth cup of brown sugar, and two tablespoons of vinegar. Stir and simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve on bread or hamburge buns. They will love it and they get their veggies in too.
Jkiel1 Ormond Bch Fl
post #19 of 20
You mentioned make-their-own quesadillas. That might work for wraps, chef salads and other composed dishses.

Here's a story you may find useful. I used to teach struggling readers in a middle school. Some of them came from homes where no one cooked a meal and had everyone sit around the table. I say that because it showed that no one was fostering good nutrition- to say nothing of table manners and civil conversation. A group of 10 sixth graders (ages 11 and 12) had read a book set at the time of the eruption of the Paricutin volcano in Mexico. A local fiesta was described, with foods mentioned such as nopales (cactus paddles), quesadillas, canned tamales, churros, a bottle of Cholula hot sauce, etc. I bought a jar of nopalitas (paddles cut into strips), flour tortillas and grated cheese, and bought the churros at a local Hispanic grocery.

I explained that they didn't have to taste or eat any of it, just look at it and listen to the discussion.

The cactus paddles had the same texture as okra- that is, what many people describe as "slimy". I searched my brain for another adjective and came up with "silky". They ate it and liked it! Even the pickiest eater took at least a nibble, which was more than I asked of them. They played "fear factor" with the hot sauce until I took it away. They had great fun making quesadillas in the little microwave I kept in my room.

The same strategy worked with the seventh graders who read a book about tide pools. I brought in seaweed salad, nori, supermarket sushi (all ingredients cooked), a can of smoked oysters, canned clams and a few live mussels, etc. Nearly everyone tried at least a bit of everything.

At parent-teacher conference time I was asked, "How did you get my child to eat that??" It was a lot of fun, I have to say.
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post #20 of 20

You're on the right track... get them INVOLVED with cooking. You can still eat healthy and get them from the burger routine which is really not that good a diet to get hooked on.

Pastas, Fajitas(with chicken), shrimp and fish (I'd use cod.. not very fishy and you can do a lot of ways to prepare it)...

My oldest granddaughter (8) would not eat any pasta except spaghetti... I had her help me make the pasta dough and I rolled out sheets to make bow ties (farfalle)... She scarfed them up!! This last time I had HER make the steak pizzaiola and she ate that too.

If they make it, 90% of the time, they'll eat it.

Good luck..
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