By Katy Killilea
I love cooking and I love eating, and I love takeout and I love going out to eat, but sometimes I love nothing more that serving my kids some questionable food from a can. It has been happening at our house with some regularity, so we try to make the most of it. And it can be faster and cheaper than a large cheese pizza special in Barrington on a Tuesday night (Trendy’s $5 Tuesday night pizza deal on Maple Avenue.)
This list includes only those dinners neither of my children whined or cried over. They are all slightly nutritious — and by nutritious I mean hotter than a bowl of cereal. They are all foods that can be kept in the pantry or freezer to have handy when the need strikes. If you have others to recommend, please do so by adding a comment!
1. Annie Chun’s Pad Thai
All of us enjoy the pad thai from this “meal kit.” As with any pad thai noodles, you prepare them by soaking them and then stir-frying the whole shebang together. So even though this is a convenience food, it brings you pretty close to actual cooking. You can add whatever vegetables, tofu, chicken, etc., you like and happen to have on hand. The sauce tastes authentic and contains only what you would put in your own pad thai sauce–that is, if you had time to get out the soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper sauce…oh, it is too exhausting to list the number of bottles you won’t have to haul out if you use the Annie Chun’s kit. (Annie Chun’s noodle kits can be purchased at Whole Foods, Shaw’s, and Eastside Marketplace.)
2. Nate’s Zesty Italian Meatless Meatballs
Heat these tasty ping-pong balls in some Buddy Cianci “Mayor’s Own” marinara and serve with spaghetti, if you have time to boil water. My children love these. And they are not meat-deprived children: They have had regular exposure to real meatballs made by real Italians. If you can’t boil the water for pasta, I’ve found that kids will enjoy these with bread as a sandwich. My husband and I don’t especially care for them — Luckily we are fully grown and can survive on peanut M&Ms. (Nate’s Meatless Meatballs can be found at the University Heights Whole Foods.)
3. Annie’s Cheesey Ravioli
The rabbit who fed me purple boxes of mac & cheese in college now serves my children cheese ravioli from a can. Open can, dump in pan, heat. Children love it and babysitters of all ages are able to prepare this perfectly. Once again, the adults here opt out on this dish. (Available everywhere I go, even Target.)
4. Goya Black Bean Soup
The Kidoinfo reader who is chemically sensitive should note that this soup contains MSG. But it is delicious. This is a canned miracle. One can of the soup plus two additional cans of drained, rinsed, plain black beans equals something truly delectable. Adding extra beans makes it less soupy and more like beans for black beans & rice. This can be served over rice or with tortillas and as many of the following as you can gather: avocado slices, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, lime wedges, tortilla chips. The soup is also yummy on its own, it is not spicy, and kids will eat it happily. (Available in the Latin American sections of Shaw’s and Stop and Shop.)
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