Learn how to making cooking with kids in the kitchen more fun every day. Engage their senses, teaching them how to chop, and make them meal planners.
Ever since we moved back to the US, I’ve been blown away by how many meal delivery service options are available in our area. Not only are there national brands, but also many smaller, niche meal delivery service choices. As an avid cook, I thought it would be cool to give this idea a test run to see if it’s worth recommending them to my clients.
First off, I was able to partner with Boston’s Just Add Cooking meal delivery service. They offer ingredients that marry with my food philosophy. This includes using fresh, local ingredients, including meat and produce, as well as balance meals focusing on vegetables first. The meals were not too complicated, nor too basic. As someone who truly loves to cook, it was a good sign that I learned a couple of new food preparation tips as I tested out the meals for two weeks. (One week provided for me, one week delivered by accident…and I’ll explain it later.)
You may have seen a sneak peek via my Instagram stories where I share what I’m cooking in the kitchen on a regular basis.
Questions to ask of a meal delivery service?
Regardless of where you live, I thought it would be helpful for you to have a list of questions to help you decide which is the right meal delivery service for you. These are the questions that come to mind if you plan to shop around.
- Where are you getting your ingredients? Find out about where the meal delivery service company sources its ingredients. If it’s not readily learned from its website, you may want to keep looking.
- Do they offer meals that fit your food philosophy or way of eating? Some businesses cater to Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, or family friendly requests. Some have a mix, but check to see the menus to get a sense of the variety offered. In January, you can find many meal delivery services that offer Whole30 approved meals. It can be hard to figure out the “rules” in certain eating styles and these companies do the leg work for you.
- How many meals are included per week in the meal delivery service? Generally it looks like 3 is a standard. I know some families only prefer two meals, whereas others really like having four meals ready to go. This may be a case of trial and error, but look at how often you cook a full meal now, and hopefully you can add another day by using a meal delivery service.
- How much packaging is involved? This was a hot topic when I brought it up in my private Facebook group. People who have tested out meal delivery services in the past were really frustrated by the overwhelming amount of packaging needed to ship things to stay fresh. I was actually really happy with using Just Add Cooking because of the minimal amount of packaging used. Not only that, but they use a frozen water bottle to keep the food fresh, so even that can be used. I was able to reuse the sturdy boxes to ship Christmas gifts so I had very little waste. Yes, there are small containers of the ingredients, but they were nearly all recyclable.
Can I use a meal delivery service if I have food allergies?
This is a great question. I find the local services are better able to manage accounts that require sensitive handling of ingredients. You may be better served partnering with a holistic chef in your area who can package the meals and deliver them to your home each week.
How does a meal delivery service work?
In my case with Just Add Cooking, I needed to select my meals for a Sunday home delivery by a certain date and time. There is a reasonable number of meals to choose from. Some were labeled gluten-free so I was able to narrow my choices down quickly.
Once the meals are selected, they are saved for the upcoming week. I received a box Sunday afternoon by the nicest delivery man.
The following Sunday, I was surprised by the delivery man. I had missed the notation that Just Add Cooking is a subscription based meal delivery service. Oops. Here’s the best part though. When I told my husband about my mistake, he asked if it was the same company who provided the meals the week prior. The flavor in those meals were so good he didn’t mind my oops! Just pay attention to the fine print is my lesson I’ll share with you.
If you are in the Boston area, you can check out Just Add Cooking here. I may try them again soon as they consistently adjust their menu to include seasonal items. Happy cooking.
Cookbooks to Inspire You at the Farmers Market
Our local farmers market opens in one week! I’m excited to start picking up some local produce and support our farmers and specialty food makers. The easiest way to get inspired at the market is to ask the farmer how they like to prepare what’s in season. Sometimes they have the tastiest, and easiest, recipes they can share with you. There are also lots of seasonal recipes on Pinterest, from salads to dessert options. I also have accumulated a little collection of cookbooks that help me come up with new ways to use vegetables and eat seasonally.
Vegetables Every Day~ this was a gift from my friend Christy. I love that it’s organized by vegetable so it’s a quick way to find new recipes. Have some swiss chard you don’t know what to do with? Just look it up for a bunch of new ways to prepare the leafy green. There’s also notes to see what other similar greens could work in the same recipe. I think it’s a great cookbook for getting inspired at the farmers market, or for those families participating in a CSA for the summer. The book is filled with beautiful illustrations of the produce included.
The Homesteader’s Kitchen~ this is a specialty cookbook that is beautiful to flip through and the recipes are a level above basic. There are some unique ingredients in some of the recipes which is a great way to spark up a conversation with your farmer.
Cooking from the farmer’s market~ this is a gorgeous collection of photos and recipes. It’s also organized by vegetables, but also includes fruit. There are recipes for all occasions, from breakfast to appetizers to Honeydew-Lime Ice Pops. The photographs are very detailed so if you are not sure if you brought home a green onion or a leek, you can verify it with this cookbook.
Do you visit your local farmers market? Or participate in a CSA?
Disclosure: some links are affiliate links.
I pulled together our list of green smoothies your kids will love. My kid’s favorite snack lately is a smoothie, always with a dose of greens. My two year old runs into the kitchen saying “moothie” until I make him one. Smoothies are a great way to sneak additional vegetables and fruits into your kids diet, and your own if needed. We usually make one large smoothie and split it up between the three of us in the afternoon. Both kids like the green smoothies and I’ll share today some super simple recipes that are kid-approved.
The good news is both kids drink green smoothies. The bad news is they often want them before I get dinner on the table so I find it can affect how much they eat when we sit at the table. I’m slowly trying to find a balance between offering them healthy vegetable-filled snacks and not take away from eating vegetables on the plate. The fiber isn’t lost when you make a smoothie, but I do think it’s important for kids to continue to experience the different textures of cooked or raw vegetables on their dinner plate.
We are using the Blendtec blender that I received as part of a Stonyfield yogurt campaign. The blender really is amazing and I think I’ll always have one of these high speed blenders from now on. We are using the Wildside Blendtec Blender.
There are a few key ingredients I use when I make smoothies for us:
- Coconut Milk
- Frozen Fruit
- Chia seeds (optional)
I generally never add any sweetener (like honey or agave) as I don’t want to give the kids a taste of a sweeter option. If something tastes too “green” I can soften the taste with the addition of more citrus or an apple. Yes, there is still sugar in the fruit but there are also a ton of vitamins that are beneficial.
Wondering how we serve our smoothies? I use our pint size mason jars and these glass smoothie straws (only one has broken in 3 years of using glass straws with the little kids). JJ loves his blue one and Madison has pink! If we are on the go, I also serve the smoothie in our favorite reusable squeeze pouch.
Here are just a few of our favorite recipes. Combine in the order listed and blend well.
If you want ALL of my smoothie recipes in one handy printable recipe book, click here. All recipes are kid-approved!
Green Smoothies Your Kids Will Love
*where it says water, you can sub in coconut milk to make it creamy, almond, oat, cashew or your favorite type of milk.
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups spinach
1 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup water
1/2 a medium avocado scooped out (we make this to use up leftover avocado)
2 cups spinach
2 cups frozen pineapple
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds (or chia seeds)
2 clementines, peeled
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
The Blue One
(which really comes out more purple than blue)
1/2 cup water
1 cup yogurt (we use our homemade yogurt)
1 cup spinach
2 cups frozen berries
Head over here for one more bonus green smoothie: Coconut Kale Smoothie!
If the kids are not into anything green, you can also try my Paleo Pumpkin Pie Smoothie recipe. Happy blending! I hope these green smoothies your kids will love helps make getting more vegetables into them a lot easier for you.
Ever since we received a Blendtec blender, smoothies have become a regular part of our day. Sometimes it becomes a meal replacement on busy days, other times it’s the perfect snack in the afternoon to hold us over till dinner. The kids get to pick their color and we go from there.
Last week I attended a “Smoothie Summit” at Whole Foods Fresh Pond in Cambridge. A group of local Boston bloggers got together to share and test out some smoothie recipes. The results were amazing!
My drink of choice is one called the Green Machine. I love the balance in flavors I get when I blend spinach with fruits. When I have a smoothie without spinach, I often find it too sweet now.
- 1/2 cup guava juice
- 1 cup Stonyfield Greek Yogurt
- 2 bananas
- 1 navel orange peel and cut into quarters
- 1 apple cut into quarters but not peeled
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup frozen mango
- Add everything into a blender in the order above.
- Blend on smoothie setting until desired consistency.
- Serve immediately.
As our group of bloggers recipes come online, I’ll share them here as well. Thank you Whole Foods for hosting us, it was a wonderful experience to test out some healthy recipes. There were a lot of new ingredients tossed into those smoothies that may find their way into my kitchen too.
Leah’s Spring Egg Cream Smoothie Recipe
I had a great time hanging out with Lori from Groovy Green Livin, Sharon from ViolaCay, Julia from It’s Not Like a Cat, Sharon from umommy and KidNosh, Jessica from Don’t Mind the Mess, Isra The Frugalette, Niri of Mommy Niri, Leah from Oh Baby Boston, and Jean The Shopping Queen.
Have you ever been confused about the rules about nonstick pans? Can you use them or not? For a long time I’ve tried to avoid using them, but when you are cooking eggs there really isn’t a great alternative. There are a bunch of new “healthy” alternatives to the old Teflon pans many of us grew up with. You want to look for PFOA and PTFE-free pans, which means is doesn’t release the same cancer causing toxins that Teflon releases when scratched.
Below is a collection of well priced green pans that offer the ease of nonstick cooking. Most have either a ceramic coating or a Thermolon coating.
Oh, and if you have an old non-stick pan that is really scratched, get rid of it. Don’t pass it along. It’s one of those items that shouldn’t be passed along to a new home. You can also extend the life of nonstick pans by using silicone cooking tools and a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat.
Please welcome my guest blogger Elizabeth who is sharing some great sustainable camping tips. I have been camping once so I am happy to have someone with a lot more experience share some fun ways to stay green while camping.
Since I have grown up, camping has taken on a whole new interesting twist for me. Now I have a growing interest in all things frugal, but also in trying to be sustainable and take care of the same environment I’ve grown to love spending so much time in.
- Don’t bring firewood that isn’t from that particular area. This creates a risk of introducing disease and pests that could wreak havoc on the beautiful place you are staying.
- Make sure you never leave your fire or hot coals unattended. Also, if possible try to only have fires in designated areas.
- My mom always taught us to leave the campsite cleaner than it was when we arrived, and I think it’s one of the best pieces of advice for any camper.
- BPA-Free reusable plastic kitchenware comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. Check out the Sea To Summit X Bowl & X Plate which is collapsible so it saves you room. They also have the Delta Plate and Delta Bowl.
- Check out the many metal-based products out there. The MSR Mountain Plate is stainless steel and lightweight, while still being a bit more sturdy then the cheaper aluminum plates. Enamelware plates are also really popular choices like this GSI Metal Rim Plate. If you are interested in a bit more of an investment, check out this Snow Peak Titanium Plate that leaves no metallic taste in your food and will not rust.
- Sporks are not just a fun idea for kids in school, so check around for some great multipurpose reusable utensils. The Delta Spork with Serrated Knife is BPA-Free and is ergonomically designed for easy use. Bamboo has become known as a great sustainable resource and so I was excited to find these Bamboo RePEaT Utensil Sets that come with cute cases in various colors, but it doesn’t just stop at bamboo. Those cases are made from recycled PET plastic! How great is that?
- Check out local thrift stores for hand towels you can pack with you to use instead of paper towels. The great things with these are that you can just simply rinse them out and then you hang them up to dry and they’ll be ready to go by your next meal generally.
- Meet your campsite neighbors.
- See if your campsite has fun activities for the kids (or the adults – bingo anyone?).
- Walk trails.
- Bring your bicycles.
- Go swimming if you can.
- Create traditions.
About the Author
Need more Camping Food ideas? Check out the Kitchen Stewardship in the Big Woods ebook with lots of real food recipes for camping. Plus tips on how to organize your campsite and what to pack to keep the kids entertained. (Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Kitchen Stewardship ebooks. I love her recipe books and I get a small percentage of each book sold. Happy reading.)
photo credit: bulliver via photopin cc
Skip the drive thru and the frozen food aisle. Here is an easy chicken nugget recipe that is both kid, and husband, friendly. I grew up eating these and I have hardly tweaked the original recipe from the Eater’s Choice cookbook. Now I make sure to cook enough so there is leftovers for the kids lunches.
A note about breadcrumbs. I use the heels of my bread and pulse them in the food processor. I have also used panko breadcrumbs as well and they come out just as crunchy.
- 3-4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
- 2 Tbl Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Cup Breadcrumbs 2-3 pieces of bread
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Dipping Sauce~ 2 1/2 Tsp Honey and 2 Tbl Dijon Mustard
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces, about 8 pieces per breast.
- Mix oil, garlic, pepper and chicken in a zip top bag and marinate about 30 minutes. (You can do it in the morning and let it sit till evening, or just marinate for a few minutes, it doesn't make a huge difference in taste.)
- Mix breadcrumbs with cayenne pepper. Roll chicken pieces in bread crumbs and place on a large cookie sheet. I line my cookie sheet with parchment paper to make clean up easy.
- Bake 15-17 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
- Use honey mustard sauce or ketchup for dipping.
Enjoy this healthy homemade chicken nugget recipe. I’ve been eating this version since I was a kid!