Single parents have to be in several places at once. Grocery store, school, work, home and then is tonight Scouts, Muay Thai or music lessons? Single Dads may feel mighty stretched when squeezing in meals for their kids, but research has shown that eating together is really, really good for children. Here are some simple, Dad-friendly and kid-approved meals you can make to give your kids a boost academically, emotionally and socially.

Okay is Good Enough … Okay?

Try to scale back your expectations. You could spend a lot of time making something only to have your children reject it because it did not come from a can. Keep things simple, limit the ingredients, and offer variety.

Quick, healthy meals for kids begins by planning ahead. Think about what your kids like (and don’t like!) and remember it is more than just taste:

  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Textures
  • Smells

The goal is to find time to sit at the table together, not to find time to cook for hours.

Indulge Sensibly

Your four-year-old only likes yellow things this week. Go with it, since most children will eventually eat more than one thing. Squash, corn and yellow peppers are fine for a few meals. The goal is an overall balance, not meal-by-meal perfection.

Similarly, making sweets a forbidden item increases their allure, so indulge sensibly. Limit between-meal snacks and avoid fruit juices and sodas for sipping. Water is great, and milk is both unnecessary and overrated, says Live Science.

Cook Ahead

Busy single Dads can help themselves by getting several meals ready to go ahead of time. Suppose your parenting schedule lets you enjoy your kids for a week including most of a weekend. Plan ahead the week before and get as many meals prepped as you can.

Staying in with your kids not only increases your together time, it lets them enjoy the same homey atmosphere their mother is providing if she has full custody.

Two Words: Crock Pots

First buy a crock pot liner. That saves a lot of cleanup. Then buy at least one decent crock pot (preferably two if you plan to make multi-course meals). Look for one with a timer so you can set it and forget it. Also, buy the biggest one you can find. Not that you and your three little ones are really going to eat a gallon of chili in a sitting, but nearly everything you can prepare in a crock pot will freeze well for leftovers.

Roast Chicken, Not Dad

Kids love tearing apart a roast chicken. It is totally medieval, in case you need a theme. We have looked around but cannot beat this crock pot roast chicken recipe from Dad With A Pan. It is super-easy, adds no liquid to your crockpot, and involves two ingredients plus spices.

Besides potatoes, provide your kids with fresh vegetables and a dab of ranch dressing so they begin to get the idea of appetizers before the main meal. End with a simple dessert like crock pot peach cobbler from the Pumpkin N Spice (it’s a website, not a flavor). You need 10 minutes to prepare it and 4 hours to slow-cook it. Top it with vanilla bean ice cream and watch your kids gobble up the cobbler.

Children Love Chili!

Chilly? Make some chili, but only if you have bean a good Dad.  This recipe is crock pot-ready and invites puns aplenty:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can drained, rinsed kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 pounds of ground turkey or lean beef
  • Chili seasoning (in an envelope; choose your kids’ preferred spice level)

Brown protein in a skillet, then fold all ingredients into the crock pot and set for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Serve over rice, or top with sour cream. This makes a lot of chili, but kids love chili, so we cannot specify the number of servings.

Meatloaf Minis (for Your Minis)

Thinking outside the crock pot, you can use a cupcake sheet to make miniature meatloaves.

  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 pounds ground beef
  • 0.5 pounds ground veal
  • 0.5 pounds ground pork or turkey
  • 0.5 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (if your kids like garlic)
  • Dash oregano
  • 1 cup ketchup (0.5 cups for mixing; remainder for brushing)
  • Mustard, steak sauce or Worcestershire sauce to taste

In an oiled pan, sauté the carrots, garlic onion and oregano until lightly browned. Mix meats, fold in eggs, 0.5 cup ketchup, carrots et al and thoroughly mix by hand. Fill muffin tins with the meaty mixture and brush ketchup on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350. The recipe will make about 18 meatloaf minis and they freeze well, reheating quickly.

Your Recipe for Success: The Firm For Men

When you call 757-383-9184 to reach The Firm For Men, we may not be as quick with a recipe as we are with a writ, but we can offer excellent advice on family law, child custody, and more. Contact us online today. We serve the Virginia Beach, Hampton and nearby areas. And by “serve” we mean law services, not meals. Just to be clear.

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