Today was a long day and not just because I gave the entire house a good scrub down, did five loads of laundry, wrote two articles, met with a nonprofit client, went to the gym, and took both kids grocery shopping, but it was a long day simply because it was freezer meal stock-up day (full disclosure, I wrote this on Saturday).
I am not a fan of freezer meal stock-up day, but what I am a fan of is eating and we like to do that around here at least several times a day. As I've mentioned in past posts, since I don't want the kids eating cereal for dinner every night of the week, I try to set aside one day a month to get as many meals made as possible and stick them in the freezer for the weeknights. Also, because we are on the food assistance program (food stamps), it helps me budget what I have to spend by making a majority of our meals as soon as our assistance becomes available each month.
This time around I started with 6lbs of chili.
I also made a batch of Breakfast Cookies (which I forgot to take a picture of, so I pulled one out of the freezer, snapped a picture, realized later that it came out blurry, and decided "F' it, this is the picture that you are getting." Sorry).
I made another crock pot lasagna and then split it up into four meals (it freezes so well!).
And an apple pie. Don't you freeze pie slices for dessert? (Don't judge us, I have two kids in my house and even "poor" kids deserve a treat. This is cheaper and healthier than fast food and junk at 7-11)
I also whipped up a batch of those SUPER easy breakfast pancake muffins that I gave you the recipe for (which you can find by clicking here). Seriously they are so easy I feel like I'm lying when I say I baked them. To celebrate the return of the chilly weather around here (we had a few days of warm weather and jumped right back to winter. Blah) I made some of them pumpkin blueberry! The rest I made strawberry, hopefully to celebrate the spring that is coming.
Do you know what else is easy? Getting your kids to eat a balanced diet by making it fun looking.
Seriously, my kids will eat anything that I put in front of their faces and I swear to you it has less to do with how I am raising them and more to do with how I present the food to them.
For years I was hiding pureed vegetables in everything from eggs to muffins until one day it dawned on me "yea, they are eating them, but they aren't actually learning to like them. If I don't want to be doing this for the next 18 years, I need them to actually learn to like vegetables, not just sneak them in there and not actually teach them anything."
With that realization I started taking the time that I was spending on hiding vegetables in their food, and using that time to display vegetables in their food.
So, with that, what I am going to show you next is a fun little meal, and also a complete and utter failure in blog land, because only ONE of my photo's actually came out. I was taking pictures of the step-by-step process on how to make this fun little meal, but only one picture actually saved to my phone. So can you just pretend that all my pictures are here?
PRETEND WITH ME OK?
This is what I call a "taco plate" and it is a twist on a traditional taco, which can be very difficult for kids to actually eat.
To give them a balanced meal of proteins, grains, dairy, and vegetables, I spread beans in the center of the plate, top it with a scoop of meat, a small scoop of sour cream, and then surround it with a ring of cheese (or if you are dairy free, skip the cheese and sour cream). Because kids are more likely to eat food that they feel is "interactive," I use whole grain rolled chips (whoever invented those is a pure genius because they don't break as easily as regular chips) so that they can scoop up the food themselves.
Now here is where we are pretending to see something that I don't have a photo of. The last step is to put little tomato slices, olives, and lettuce in between all of the rolled up chips. Then I have my kids play a game where they compete against each other to see who, using the chips, can scoop up the beans and then get the most meat/tomatoes/olives/lettuce/avocados to stick to the beans AND make it into their mouths.
Pretend you see tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, and olives in between the chips.
Aren't they pretty?
It's so easy and makes dinner fun!
Do you know what else is easy? The recipe I'm about to give you!!
Cinnamon Sweet Potato Bites
Rich in vitamin A, antioxidants, and with the added benefit of heart healthy, cholesterol lowering properties
These are an excellent side to any meal, or as is the case in my house, a great snack.
What You Will Need:
Preheat the oven to 475 and wash the potatoes.
Peel the potatoes (and P.S. if you have somewhere to go, wear gloves because your hands are going to turn orange and possible stay that way for 24 hours... or so I've heard...).
Chop the potatoes. You are going to need a super sharp knife because these suckers are hard! Chop them any way you want. I prefer them like the picture below, but it really doesn't matter. The important thing is not to make them too thick or the outside will burn before the inside cooks.
Place all the potatoes in a bowl. Pour olive oil in and sprinkle cinnamon on.
There really is no way for me to give you an exact measurement on how much to use because I don't know how many potatoes you are using. Start with a little and you can always add more in later, but using your hands to mix everything together, you should have enough oil to generously coat the potatoes and enough cinnamon that you can see a fine sprinkling on all of them.
If you have excess oil, drain it off first and then pour the potatoes onto a foil lined pan. Trust me, use the foil. JUST TRUST ME (unless you want to throw your pan away when you are done). Spread evenly so that there is only one layer of potatoes.
Bake until you can easily cut through the potatoes with a spoon (turn or stir them every ten minutes until done). They should look just slightly crispy on the outside, but yet feel smooshable (do you like my technical term?) when you cut them. Cooking time will vary depending on how thick you cut your potatoes, but for me it was roughly 30 minutes.
Now you have a sweet and healthy side/snack that freezes well!
So that my friends, is what's in our freezer. I also made 4lbs of taco meat but I dropped the ball when I promised The Girl Child that we could make cupcakes, and then it turned out that the budget didn't allow for it this month.
She was pretty upset, but I'm teaching her to do like every other American woman does and stuff her feelings down with food; or in this case, pie.
I did however point out that there was pie.
Easy Bake Pancake Muffins
Crock Pot Lasagna and Easy Peasy Breakfast Cookies