Carlsbad CA—As kids and parents are preparing to go “back to school,” this fall, things continue to look a little different. As some local students have already started the school year online and others await the latest protocols as San Diego is poised to move off of the state’s watch list, cooking for kids is always daunting. But have no fear, we’ve gathered five practical cooking tips and tricks from Gelson’s Executive Chef Abe van Beek – father of three small children – to help parents save time, reduce waste and keep them from completely losing their sanity.
Cook food, not meals
Streamline your cooking to produce simple meals to fill those bellies. This doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the nutrients. As indulgent as grilled cheese is, it’s kid-friendly, satisfying and quality bread and cheeses can be used to increase nutrition. It’s also a great time to train kids’ palates and introduce healthy produce into meals that can be enjoyed on their own.
Prep and plan ahead (as much as possible)
With homeschooling set for the fall, most parents have enough on their plate with a full-time job and teaching schedule. A productive time-saver is to prepare meals and snacks the morning of or at the beginning of the week. Planning out meals for the entire week can also reduce the amount of waste and grocery trips needed. Don’t overthink it and take 10 minutes to jot down your weekly menu to keep yourself organized.
Cook in batches
Cooking in batches saves time by preparing for multiple meals. It’s like a two for one deal. If you’re looking for more variety in your weekly meals, select recipes that freeze well so you can avoid repetition and limit your time in the kitchen. Items like soups, stews and burritos can all easily be prepared in batches and they freeze well.
Schedule Snack Times
Creating a schedule for you and the kiddos can be beneficial for managing time and resources. This will prevent kids from grazing all day and, in turn, overeating. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time like personal snack packs with turkey, cheese and grapes or sliced fruit and trail mix. Make it habit to break at the same time every day to keep everyone in the same routine.
Teach older kids to cook
Now is a great time to teach your kids a valuable life lesson on how to cook. No gourmet training is required and this can double as a bonding experience between you and the little ones. This will also help distribute the workload and include kids in the responsibility of helping feed the family – especially for reluctant tweens and teens. They might even be able to teach you a thing or two in the kitchen.