My kids are always hungry right when we walk in the door, but since it is so close to dinner time I don’t want them to fill up and then not eat a balanced dinner. They are allowed to snack on as much fruit or veggies as they want though – I will never say no to that. So they usually grab an apple or a banana or have some carrots or cucumber with hummus to tide them over until dinner. If they are especially grouchy (which is honestly usually the case), I will put a television show on for them around 5:00 while I make dinner – so I can have some peace and quiet and actually THINK about what I’m going to cook if I haven’t had a chance to do that already (which is also honestly usually the case).
I’m going to be brutally honest here and tell you that cooking dinner for my kids stresses me out and I do not enjoy it. With my son’s food allergies (dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, garlic, mustard, sesame, shell fish) and my vegetarian/vegan diet we have some limitations around here. I am a creature of habit and don’t need fancy foods – steamed veggies and brown rice always make me happy – and my kids are pretty easy going when it comes to that, too. We all love tofu with soy sauce. Fresh green veggies and fruit are a staple. Noodles are served a LOT around here. Keeping it simple helps minimize the stress for me.
Sometimes though, I feel like one of those boring moms who never does anything fun for her kids in the kitchen. Desserts don’t count here – I am great at baking cookies, brownies and cakes – but let’s face it those foods are fun just because they have sugar. I’m talking about regular meals and ways to make them fun for kids. My son’s allergies prevent us from having those easy and fun go-to things like Mac n’ Cheese or whatever. So I have to be a little more creative.
I was really excited when a babysitter shared the following idea with me. It involves hot dogs so is definitely not a *healthy* dinner, but it is something you can make with and for your kids, it is EASY and it is FUN, so I was eager to try it out. It was a BIG hit in my house, so I thought I would share here for you moms out there. I wasn’t sure what to call it and when I asked my kids what they thought, they insisted that we call them “Hot Dog-a-Puses” because when cooked these things look like octopuses. I actually think they more resemble jellyfish, but we’ll go with it.
How to make a Hot Dog-a-Pus Dinner:
1. Boil water for pasta
2. Cut hot dogs into thirds
3. Stick spaghetti noodles into hot dog pieces. You can be creative with this – there is really no wrong way to do it as long as you just make sure the noodle is really stuck in there so it won’t fall out while cooking!
4. Place noodle-stabbed hot dogs into the boiling water. You will want to gently press them into the pot as the noodles soften, to make sure that they are completely immersed in the boiling hot water.
5. Boil for 10 minutes.
6. Drain them and serve. My recommendation is to serve them with some colorful, nutritious foods that your kids will eat such as steamed broccoli and fresh strawberries.
7. Watch as your kids enjoy their meal – giggling and smiling instead of complaining and grumbling at you.
That’s it! Hopefully you will find that your kids enjoy this as much as mine do. It is super easy and fun and will definitely turn a grumpy kid into a happy one at dinner time.
Now, I have to ask you to share! What tricks do you have up your sleeve for easy, quick, healthy(ish) and fun/creative meals for your kids?