Dinner Select - Meal Planning

Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes
Healthy Dinner Ideas
Meal Planning

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 ♦ Family Dinner Planning ♦

Dinner Select family dinners are designed with the whole family in mind.  Our weekly meal planning menu will include an occasional hot dog (we have a great Chicago-style hot dog recipe) and even macaroni and cheese (our recipe starts from scratch).  However, we do not believe in sacrificing diversity for children; instead we prefer to start with a tasty diverse meal and make minor accommodations as needed such as the suggestions listed below.  We think it is important for busy families to enjoy time together around the dinner table and for parents to encourage healthy and diverse eating.  It is good for kids to try new things and it is good for parents too!  Click here to see a sample dinner menu.

Below are some of the variations that can help make any meal even more appealing to your children. Be creative and patient with your menus and soon even picky eaters will be eating healthy and diverse meals.  See breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes at bottom of this page.

Adjust the spice level of the recipe according to your child's taste. For example, in some of the spicier recipes, you may want to cut back on the seasoning during the cooking process to keep the children's servings more mild. Then add spice to your own plates afterward.

Hold the sauce. Children often prefer sauces on the side rather than on top of their food.

Add a serving of fruit on the side. Don't treat it like dessert, but right along with the meal. It will contribute toward the 5 servings of daily fruits or vegetables, and also serve as a back-up in case something else is rejected.

Know your child's favorite seasoning. For example, our kids think anything tastes better with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Maybe for your child, it's ketchup. Whatever it is, keep some on hand for whenever you need it.


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Quick Easy Breakfast Ideas
From left to right: Cornmeal pancakes (add cornmeal to "just-add water" pancake mix); oatmeal with brown sugar; veggie omlete
Cornmeal pancakes     hot oatmeal with a bananas     Vegetarian Omelet with orange slices


Quick Easy Lunch Ideas
From left to right: Baked Potato; Turkey Wrap; Beef Tacos; Soup & Sandwich
Baked Potato with brocoli and cheese     turkey wrap with peaches and cottage cheese     Hard shell tacos with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce with apple slices on the side     Soup and a sandwich to warm the children up on a chilly day


Quick Easy Snack Ideas
Be aware of the danger of younger children choking on smaller snacks such as popcorn. From left to right: Cheese & Crackers; Popcorn and Sliced Apple; Veggie Sticks with cream cheese; Chips & Salsa
crackers and cheese with an apple     Popcorn with apple slices     celery and carrot sticks with dip     Chips and salsa

Quick Easy Dinner Ideas
From left to right: Garlic Roasted Shrimp, Moroccan Lentil Soup, Barbequed Pork Tenderloin, Chicken Cordon Bleu
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Baby Food
While baby food manufacturers are offering more variety than ever before, there are still plenty of vegetables that we haven't found in a jar. Broccoli, cauliflower and avocado, for example, have great nutrients for babies and are easy to prepare at home.

We recommend investing in a food mill or blender. We've tried several gadgets, both electric and manual, for preparing baby foods. We believe the most practical by far is an electric hand blender. We use the "Multiquick Hand Blender" by Braun. You can buy one for around $35, and it is well worth it.

For young babies just starting solids, mash or puree to a smooth consistency, with a lot of formula or breast milk. As babies get older and more familiar with solids, the texture can be chunkier.  

Make Your Own Play-dough Recipe
Okay this isn't related to meal planning for kids, but this play-dough recipe is so darn good that we wanted to share it.  After trying several homemade play-dough recipes unsuccessfully, we got this one from our child's preschool.  Enjoy!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt (a little less is fine)
  • 4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (a little more is fine)
  • Lots of food coloring

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in sauce pan.  Add the water and oil and stir well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often.  When it becomes firm and doughy, remove from heat and turn out on counter.  Kneed the dough for several minutes.  Separate the dough into smaller chunks, add food coloring to each and continue kneading.  When cool, store in a large zip-top bag.

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Our site offers: Meal Planning Tips, Dinner Menu Suggestions, and Easy Dinner Ideas.