Kid-Friendly Meals for Young and Old
Dinner should be a treat for the whole family, but too often it can feel like a battlefield. While some kids are practically born loving Pad Thai or spicy curries, for others it’s buttered noodles and chicken fingers all the way. If you’ve got kids at home, you may find yourself scrambling to find meals that both young and old will eat.
Before you resign yourself to life as a short-order cook, know that it is possible to make meals everyone can enjoy together. Simply Organic Simmer Sauces help you introduce young taste buds to a wider world of flavor and all the healthy goodness you want for your family.
Pick Something Your Kids Love as Your Launchpad
It’s human nature to be drawn to foods that look and feel familiar, and that goes double for most kids. So, start with a dish or flavor you know they already eat happily, and don’t push the boundaries too far or too fast. It’s all about introducing new tastes and textures incrementally.
A cautious eater is unlikely to go from a diet of plain buttered noodles to a spicy noodle stir-fry in one fell swoop. But transitioning from prefab, pre-breaded chicken nuggets to fresh organic chicken tenders, or from regular spaghetti to rice noodles or ramen is a good stepping stone from the kid’s menu to adult food.
Spice Up the Condiments
Many kids prefer to keep the foods on their plate separate from one another, so be mindful of that preference. Introducing new flavors in the form of dressings, toppings and condiments lets them control the amount and pungency of unfamiliar tastes. Cooking this way doesn’t involve much more work on your part, but it lets kids sample unfamiliar tastes at their own speed.
For example, if you plan to serve a curry, set aside some of the sautéed chicken and veggies before adding Simply Organic Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce to the pot. Serve the kids’ portions plain and stir a little of the curry base into plain yogurt or mayo. Or pair chicken tenders with a souped-up dipping sauce while the grown-ups enjoy a flavorful stir-fry with Simply Organic General Tso’s Simmer Sauce.
Encourage them to dip a bite but don’t force the issue. Eventually the desire to eat like a big kid will win out. Gradually dial up the proportions of seasonings in the dipping sauce until your little one is ready to try a bite from the main dish.
Next, Turn Up the Flavor
Once your little ones have become accustomed to more spice on their plates, you can start incorporating spices and seasonings into family favorites.
Start with a flavor profile they are especially fond of — say a simple marinara sauce or a sweet/savory barbecue sauce, but blend in some Simply Organic spices or a bit of simmer sauce. This helps keep dinner within your kids’ wheelhouse while adding interest and variety for the adults. Soon pasta night will take on an exciting Indian or Southwest spin, and plain barbecued chicken will get a flavor upgrade with the addition of Korean Style BBQ Simmer Sauce.
Let Everyone Make Their Meal Their Own
Bringing everything to the table family style so kids can serve themselves is another time-honored tactic that gives little ones control over their meal when all ages are eating together. This works especially well with make-your-own meals like a taco bar or rice-bowl spread. A flexible rule like “everyone has to use at least three ingredients” ensures a bit of variety on their plate without forcing any particular item.
If ground beef is the taco filling of choice, cook two batches, one with spicy Southwest Taco Simmer Sauce for the grownups, the other with Mild Taco Simmer Sauce, and pass the guacamole and hot sauce at the table. It’s a good way to signal that everyone is sharing the same meal while still making allowances for kids’ personal preferences.
Lastly, Be Patient
Make sure to cheer on their explorations of new tastes and textures, and don’t push it if it’s not love at first bite. Remember, you are playing the long game here.
These three simple dinner ideas are both kid- and adult-friendly. They’re also full of flavor and, perhaps most importantly, fun:
Dinner #1: General Tso’s Chicken Tenders
Season tenders with salt and pepper. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook half of the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, flipping halfway. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining chicken. Meanwhile, steam broccoli florets.
Use some of the General Tso’s Simmer Sauce as a dipping sauce for the chicken and broccoli. For the adults, toss the remaining cooked chicken back into the skillet with the remaining broccoli. Pour in the remaining simmer sauce and stir-fry for a few minutes until heated through.
Dinner #2: Grilled Cheese and Indian-Spiced Tomato Soup
Make grilled cheese sandwiches for the whole family, adding a bit of mango chutney to the adult portions if you like. Heat your family’s favorite canned or boxed tomato soup, leaving half plain and stirring Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce to taste into the other half.
Serve both the plain tomato soup and spiced tomato soup with a mix of spicy and crunchy toppings, like chile-lime cashews or peanuts, toasted coconut flakes, cilantro, chutney and achar, along with the grilled cheese sandwiches.
Dinner #3: Build-Your-Own Taco Bar
Brown a pound of ground beef in a large skillet. Remove half of the cooked meat to a bowl and stir in a bit of Mild Taco Simmer Sauce to flavor. Add Southwest Taco Simmer Sauce or Seasoning to the remaining meat in the skillet to spice it up for the adults.
Serve both with soft tortillas or hard taco shells, along with salsa, shredded cheddar cheese, pickled jalapeños, hot sauce, sliced avocado and lime wedges.