Culture & Entertainment

Kid-friendly meals on the go

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Kid-friendly meals on the go

By: Jennifer Gruden

"Would you like some help packing something for martial arts?" As many couples do, my husband and I have certain code phrases that carry nuances no one else will get and the one delivered this morning, above, is really code for "If you feed our kids junk food from one of the plaza eateries again this month I am going to lose my mind." Dip for dinner on the go I used to think that we would never be one of those families that throws pizza slices at their kids in the car, but in fact, sometimes we end up rolling that way. Commuting time, daycare and scheduled class time, plus a 5-year spread in our kids' ages all combine to make evening meals a challenge several times a week. Since one of my kids gets a hot lunch but the other packs his, we need to apply some creativity if we want our kids to eat. (Are mine the only kids who get really picky after 5:30 p.m.?) Here are three of our go-to nut-free meals, and four other strategies we have tried. Tea sandwiches These take a little bit of prep time (cutting off the crusts; I don't do the pinwheels, I'll admit) but there's something about their size and novelty that makes my kids eat them up, particularly my two-year-old. As a bonus, there's not a whole lot for them to drop. Pro tip: You really have to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or have them packed close in a container so they don't dry out. Dinner dippers ( pictured above) This takes a stable location, like the lobby of a martial arts academy, but serving dip and crackers also seems to tempt my kids into eating a closer-to-proper meal. The egg-based dip in particular packs some protein with kid-friendly flavour. Hummus also works really well, and sesame seeds are not nuts. Quick breads, empanadas and other savoury little bites If something looks like a treat or an appetizer, my kids are favourably disposed. By making my own muffins, quick breads and meat-pie-like-things I can control the ingredients. Warning: Your kids have to be willing to eat room temperature or cold-from-the-fridge empanadas, which my kids are. Our favourite savoury treats include Apple Cheddar Quick Bread and Cheddar Bacon Muffins. Don't tell the Test Kitchen but I use 3/4 whole wheat flour, 1/4 all-purpose flour in both those recipes. Four other strategies for eating on the go 1. Keep dinner in the work fridge: I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out which meals I could leave in my car, or whether I had time to swing by our house, until I realized I have access to modern refrigeration at work. 2. Keep napkins, wipes and cutlery in the car. 3. Pack drinks along. If you end up buying, it's too easy to get talked into an unhealthy snack. 4. Fruit, cheese and (healthier) crackers are still better than junk food. Add in some raw veggies and you are rocking it. What's your power kids' meal on the go? Also, check out our kid-friendly picnic food.
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Kid-friendly meals on the go

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