You love dining out. You love your kids. Sometimes it may seem impossible to combine these two passions, but never fear. To dine out successfully with small children, you just need a solid restaurant-selection strategy. Here are four restaurant categories to zone in on.
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The magical combination of cereal, marshmallows and butter is nostalgic for many of us, but that doesn’t mean cereal treats should be reserved for the kids. And why stick to just one kind of crispy rice cereal, cut into boring old squares? Get creative in the cereal aisle and try out different shapes, molds and clusters. The possibilities for these timeless crowd-pleasers are limitless, and they’re still one of the easiest no-bake treats around. Read more
Some parents meticulously pack their kids’ lunches the night before, ensuring a smooth start the next day. I am not one of them. My husband takes our kids to school every morning at 7:30 a.m. And every morning at 7:15 a.m. I start making lunch. “OK, we’re in the No Request Zone,” I’ll announce to all four small fry who are still eating breakfast, not yet even starting to wonder where their shoes are. But with a few handy strategies for banging out healthy lunches in a hurry, we rarely have a lunch-related disaster. (Getting all the kids out the door and buckled into their car seats, however, is another matter. See: shoes.) That’s thanks to this list of reliably quick lunch ideas:
DIY Cucumber Sandwiches: Think Lunchables with a fresh twist. Chop up a cucumber and put it in the lunchbox. Then set a small pile of turkey, ham and/or cheese next to it, and let the kids put together their own sandwiches at lunchtime.
We have four young kids and the oldest turned 6 this year. That means we’ve hosted 14 birthday parties — so far. With many, many more to go, we stick to these guidelines for fun parties without frazzled parents.
1. Invite a small number of kids. No one has fun at a party that feels like a mob. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. See above, it’s no fun. Remember that old rule about inviting as many friends as you are old? It’s perfect. Five, six or eight kids plus a parent each makes for plenty of revelers.
2. Create a simple theme or activity. Host a tea party. Or have everyone come in costume. This year our 4-year-old had a tea party where everyone wore costumes. Put together a scavenger hunt with hidden clues, a karaoke sing-along or outdoor Olympics based on simple games (like relay races, a water balloon shot put and so on). Pretend it’s 1988 and channel your mother; she put a Barbie doll in the middle of your cake and called it a day.
And by all means, put the birthday child to work. That same 6-year-old LOVED creating signs for her party, directing people where to go and telling people what to put where.
I’m totally the type of person who goes to bed excited about her morning coffee and breakfast. I’m sure this psychotic enthusiasm warrants some sort of therapy, but whatever. Mornings are my FAVORITE. The air is still. The streets are calm. My baby gremlins have yet to emerge from their caves.
Aside from the coffee buzz I satisfactorily achieve by 6:20 a.m., I can almost guarantee that my breakfasts are better than yours. Don’t be mad! But it’s true.
And I’m not exaggerating when I say I eat this exact breakfast sandwich nearly every. Single. Morning. I may switch out the spinach for kale, the red onions for sliced mushrooms, the sun-dried tomatoes for fresh garden Romas, but the principle is the same: runny yolks, melty cheese, all in my face.
And I’ve made a painfully simple version for your kids. We take out the fancy-pants adult toppings, and simply scramble up some fluffy eggs, place them on a toasted English muffin and top them with a mountain of cheddar.
The new school year is in full swing, and to match that brand-new backpack and those shiny unused school supplies, you want to start your lunch game strong. These lunchbox combos from Food Network Kitchen are so easy to make and pack that you won’t tire of them by October — and neither will the kids. Each includes a fun main recipe, plus all the tasty extras to round out a complete, balanced lunch. Warning: Lunch-packing parents may want to assemble an extra box for themselves, and we fully approve! Read more
“Healthy smoothies” sounds a little repetitive, right? Smoothies are good for you! They’re loaded with fruit! The truth is, like granola bars, smoothies can sound healthy but sometimes actually have so much added sugar that they’re really more like milkshakes. (And those granola bars are basically candy bars.) But these homemade smoothies are all low in added sugar, full of fruit and some are even full of veggies too.
Orange Banana Smoothie (pictured above): Spring for fresh OJ to make Ina Garten’s recipe once and you’ll be hooked on this healthy smoothie forever.
Whether you’re hopping on a plane or have a long road trip ahead, snacks are a key factor in successful travel with kids. Before you head off for that end-of-summer family vacation, make sure to check some of these kid-approved portable snacks off your packing list. Tired, hungry traveling parents should certainly partake of these goodies, too.
Gluten-Free Cheesy Crackers
These crunchy, cheesy bite-size crackers are easy enough for kids to make themselves. Let them measure ingredients, cut out the crackers in fun shapes, and sprinkle on toppings like sesame and poppy seeds. Then pack the crackers up for happy munching in transit.
Whether it’s a backyard garden or the bargain bin of your supermarket, by this stage of summer one thing is clear: Tomatoes have taken over. Cherry tomatoes, heirlooms, red, yellow. They’re inexpensive, sweet, juicy and packed with vitamin C. The problem? Tons of kids just won’t eat them. Until now. These recipes are the kid-tested turn-’em-around tomato dishes that my kids eat happily, and it’s a good bet that yours will too.
Cheesy Bagels with Sliced Tomatoes (pictured above): These are toasted bagels like your kids have never had before. Melted cheddar works perfectly with a slice of cool, sweet tomato right on top. It’s like pizza for breakfast, if pizza made your taste buds do the cha-cha.
The idea of cooking a hot dinner in the summertime reminds me of asking my kids to clean up their rooms, because the answer to both is the same: “I’m too tired!” That’s why I love this list of cook-ahead or no-cook ideas for easy summer dinners. Each one is kid-tested by my own four rascals but delicious enough for every adult at the table to enjoy as well.
Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil (pictured above): Just another 5-star recipe from Ina Garten, this one has tender noodles soaked in sweet tomato juices. These noodles practically beg to be slurped, so have those napkins ready.