Budget Meals, Inc.
Meals, Inc. Newsletter
With Children: a Recipe for Success
When I was 8 or 9 years old, my mother bought me the Betty
Crocker Children's Cookbook. I still have that yellow-and-white
cookbook with all those sixties-era illustrations. I picked it up for
the first time in decades a few weeks ago. I was amazed by the flood of
joyful memories stirred in me merely by opening the book. I remember
every page. I remember all of my successes, failures, and occasional
disappointment with the shortcomings of a recipe. I remember my flights
of imagination away from the recipe on the page, and how my mom and dad
encouraged and appreciated every one of my efforts. What I don't
remember is either parent actually cooking with me. I think I was just
turned loose in the kitchen. Somehow, this worked for me, as I have
been cooking for as long as I can remember and still love it. But it is
not been the approach I have used with my own children.
I have bought children's cookbooks for my own children.
These cookbooks have never had the effect on them that my mother's gift
had on me. Whether that is a shortcoming of these cookbooks or just my
children's own unique response to cooking, I am not certain. What does
work is for me to ask them to help me cook. I find it very effective
when enlisting my younger children to cook to ask them well in advance
for their help. That builds anticipation and excitement. It also means
they can help me decide on the recipe, write the grocery list, and shop
with me. And most gratifying of all, it means that they value the time
spent with me as much as I value the time I have with them.
I do realize that this approach does not work for all
children. It has not worked for every one of my own children. Some
children are receptive; some are not. Do
not force it on them, but draw them in wherever possible by doing
something fascinating to a child (whipping cream, asking them to
push the button for you to make bread crumbs with the food processor,
slicing a hardboiled egg with an egg slicer). The child may turn out to
be more interested than they (or you) had thought.
When you cook with your children, I have learned that it
is essential to have distractions minimized. Organize the time so there
is no competition for your children's attention. No visiting friends,
no homework, and no pesky little brother or sister to divert your attention.
And most of all, NO TELEVISION. Be certain that you have plenty of your
own time set aside because you must be totally patient and encouraging.
Prepare yourself for the inevitable. Expect that cooking with children
will slow you down. At least early on, they are not at all an extra
pair of hands to lighten your load. Prepare to explain every step, why
you are separating the eggs, why you cut off the bottoms of the
asparagus spears, why you need baking powder in the cake. Expect that
your child will spill half the flour outside of the bowl and drop the
carton of eggs on the floor. Remind yourself: This is okay! It
is going to happen, and it does not matter. You are building skills,
confidence, and relationships, not competing for the Pillsbury Bake-Off
or recording an episode of Martha Stewart.
What do you cook with your children? If the food is
something that is special to them or particularly intriguing to them,
that is a great start. Remember that something special to them may be
as simple as a food that you have planned together for this week's
menu. A good start is to make together a familiar food that they have
never seen prepared at home. Macaroni and cheese from scratch, for
example. Or a grilled hamburger, pancakes, a birthday cake, a green
salad, or ice cream. If you have only a few minutes together, teach
them how to make hot chocolate from scratch, not from a packet. Show
them how to make popcorn from popcorn kernels and a stapled paper bag
(a few small metal staples are not a safety issue in the microwave).
The Internet is the perfect resource for you if you have never
attempted these things yourself. Of course, it is always essential to
be vigilant about safety in the kitchen. A grease spatter from a frying
egg, a steam burn from a carelessly opened microwaved
popcorn bag, or a cut from a knife must always be a concern.
In addition to cooking techniques, teach your children
where their food comes from. The English chef and crusader for good nutrition,
Jaime Oliver, revealed results of his test of otherwise well educated
American high schoolers that showed a truly
shocking ignorance of food origins. Sausages come from cattails?
Chocolate is harvested from lakes? Butter comes from corn? Astonishing!
This is not a failure of our education system. This is an expression of
how little food is valued within the American home. If a family relies
on takeout, seldom eats meals together, and does not cook together, it
is hardly surprising that this ignorance exists. If our children are
not acquainted with the most basic facts of food sourcing, they cannot
possibly have any understanding of nutrition or respect for those who
labor to supply it. Take your child to a farmers' market, or better
yet, visit a biodynamic farm. From such a visit, they will also learn
important lessons about soil, fertilizer, and replenishing the earth.
Teenagers will enjoy tours of a winery, distillery, or brewery and
acquire an appreciation of the plant-based nature of drinks they may
(in the future!) enjoy. A dairy farm is an excellent way for a child to
see firsthand the hard, long and often dirty chain of work required to
produce the milk they drink every day. But the most important thing you
can do is to cook with your children and talk to them about every
ingredient that goes into the food as you cook together.
For extra credit, compare your home ingredients to the
ingredients on prepared foods you buy. If you do not recognize the
ingredients of purchased foods, you are buying the wrong foods! A
general rule of thumb is that the fewer and more familiar the
ingredients, the better and purer the product. And the sooner children
learn that lesson, the better are their chances for a healthy life of
I think it is especially important to cook with children
around the holidays. Then, in addition to instructing and enjoying time
together, you are passing on family traditions and building special
memories. One of my happiest memories is making plum puddings with my youngest
daughter while Christmas carols played in the background and an evening
snowfall covering the colored lights outside our kitchen windows. I do
not know exactly what my daughter's memory will be, but I know she will
remember that this was an important part of Christmas and that baking
with dad was fun and something she will want to do with her own
children. You cannot ask for more than that.
Use Coupons Effectively, Plan & Organize
Using coupons effectively
isn't something that just happens. It requires a strategy, and the
strategy we recommend involves planning your shopping and organizing
Start planning by
studying the weekly sales flyer for your grocery store. Look at what
items are on sale, and remember to be flexible with brand names when
possible. Look for coupons to match up with sale items to further
reduce your grocery expenditures.
absolutely need it, pass up anything that isn't on sale. There's a good
chance it will be on sale the next time you shop.
Your next step
should be to make your shopping list. Different people have different
ways of organizing their lists, but a popular method is have your list mimic the layout of a grocery store.
This will save you a lot of time when you're at the store. www.couponqueen.com
will actually help you put together a shopping list in the most
convenient way for you.
In addition to
organizing your shopping list, you should also organize your coupons.
Doing so in the same manner as you do your shopping list will, again,
save you time.
Once you have a
system in place, keep at it! Practice will make perfect, and the more
you practice your system, the more you will save.
you shop, remember that you and the grocery store work at cross
purposes. Your purpose is to get the most for your money. The store's
purpose is to get you to buy more (and spend more).
best way to achieve your purpose is to have a plan and ignore the
gimmicks and tricks stores often employ to get you to buy more.
are some of things you should beware of while you shop:
stuffing (moving around items to make you walk around more to find
an item you need)
of aisle displays
(they may not always be in your best interest)
errors (these are more common than you may think, so be sure to
keep track of the prices ringing up at the register)
buys (grocery stores utilize special displays to entice you to buy
things you might not ordinarily buy)
language" (for example, Buy One Get One Free does not always
mean you have to buy 2 items to get the sale price)
displays (stores nearly always put the higher-priced goods at eye
level; that's why you should always look high and low!)
The best way to
avoid these pitfalls is to stay focused on your own shopping plan.
Follow these steps:
- Make a list & stick to it.
- Sign up for store savings programs.
- Learn your supermarket layout.
- Be brand flexible.
- Shop the store's perimeter (where the fresh
- Let the cashier know you are using coupons in
- Compare items using per-unit prices.
- Double-check coupon expiration dates.
Dad for Father's Day
Day can feel like the forgotten holiday. Everyone tends to go all out
to spoil Mom on her special day, but then when Father's Day rolls around, it tends to be more like, "Happy
Father's Day! Here, have a tie."
not make it different this year? There's no reason Dad can't have a
special day, too. Most of us have special memories of our fathers, and we appreciate what they mean to us. Our
fathers are the ones who encourage us, always have our backs when we're
feeling let down or hurt, worked hard as we grew up to try to give us
the best lives we could possibly have, and are often the ones we turn
to when our cars are making that funny noise. Where would we be without
ladies, if you're married to an amazing father -- don't forget to do
your part to make sure your husband is well honored by your children on
his special day!
One great way you
can spoil your father is to have a special cook-out in his honor. The
fact that Father's Day is in mid-June makes it the perfect barbecuing
holiday. Most dads love to man the grill. The whole family can get
together to choose Dad's favorite foods, perhaps help out with prep work
for the meats that need to be grilled, and make some great sides to go
along with the grilled meats.
Below we offer some
tasty (and super-easy) dishes for your Father's Day barbecue, and for a
real treat, we've added a delicious recipe for ice cream pie. The
perfect way to end a summertime barbecue celebration for dear
Chicken on the
from Food Network
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 chicken, cut up
Salt and pepper
Grilling Sauce, recipe follows
Season cut up
chicken with salt and pepper. When coals are white, spread them out for
even heat distribution. Place chicken pieces on the grill with larger,
fattier pieces (such as the thigh) near the center and smaller pieces
to the outside. Brush grilling sauce on chicken through the cooking
process and turn chicken as needed. Move chicken toward the outside as
the leaner pieces (such as the breast) get done. Brush with grilling
sauce just prior to removing from grill. Serve warm.
Tangy Grilling Sauce:
1 cup Worcestershire
8 tablespoons (1
stick) butter, melted
2 lemons, juiced
ingredients in a bowl.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Mega Egga Macaroni Salad
from Food Network
Makes 4 to 6
2 pounds elbow
12 hard boiled
eggs, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, finely
4 celery stalks,
1/4 cup pickle
3 cups heavy
2 tablespoons salt,
or to taste
1 teaspoon coarsely
cracked black pepper
Dash hot sauce
- In a large pot with salt, boil pasta for 12 to
15 minutes until cooked. Stir often. Drain and cool. Refrigerate
for 30 minutes.
- In a large pot with a dash of salt, add eggs on
medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let
eggs sit for 6 to 7 minutes. Remove eggs and shock in ice water.
Once thoroughly cooled, peel eggs and roughly dice.
- Place pasta in a large bowl. Add onions,
celery, eggs, relish, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, hot sauce and
Worcestershire. Mix until well combined.
Warm Spinach Salad
with Eggs & Bacon
from Food Network
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
and vinegar dressing
4 cups bagged baby
1 cup quartered
2 hard boiled eggs,
1/4 cup crumbled real
- In a microwave-safe bowl, heat dressing in
microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds.
- In a large bowl, combine spinach, artichoke
hearts, eggs, and bacon. Pour warm dressing over top and toss to
dress salad. Serve immediately.
Ice Cream Pie
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 quarts of
strawberry light ice cream, softened
3 (1.55 ounces
each) Nestlé Crunch candy bars, chopped (about 1 cup), divided
1 prepared (6
ounces) chocolate cookie crumb crust
Nestlé Nesquik Chocolate Flavor Syrup or Nestlé Abuelita Chocolate Syrup
- Combine ice cream and half of chopped candy
bars in large bowl; stir well.
- Spoon mixture into crust. Sprinkle with
remaining chopped candy bars.
- Freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
- Drizzle with syrup before serving, if desired.
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