After-work dinners for adults and kids that are healthful, satisfying for all family members and easy enough to get on the table at a reasonable hour!

By Saturday, March 13, 2010 , , , ,

As you can tell by the title, making weeknight meals — healthful, palate-satisfying ones for both grown-ups and kids — is a little overwhelming. My dear friend Shannon, a mother of two darling boys as well as a full-time pediatrician, is my inspiration for the next few posts that will tackle several things:
1. Meals that can be shopped for on the weekend that will take you through Thursday of each week and that share ingredients to save money, time and space in the fridge.
2. Meals that satisfy the palates of grown-ups and youngsters.
3. Meals that can be either prepped the evening before or made once home from work or running the kids to all their activities (and on the table by 7 p.m.)
4. Healthful, balanced meals that feature seasonal or local produce

Daunting, huh?

Shannon’s boys have gotten a little bit pickier recently, but they are not afraid of flavor (which is good!). And while Shannon doesn’t want them to go to bed hungry, her mantra is “you get what you get and you don't throw a fit!” (Love it!). She has a good set of recipes in her arsenal, but these are getting a little overplayed. What she needs is inspiration. That’s where I come in!

The boys love quesadillas and other Mexican food, pasta, Indian (Tikka Masala in particular and Naan), quiche (depending upon what is in it), pizza, and their favorite, macaroni and cheese!

My goal is to spice up their current menu, while providing some alternative proteins (eggs, fish, and beans) into the mix and highlight some readily available, seasonal or local produce.

Here’s the menu:
Monday: Panko-crusted American farm-raised tilapia tacos with avocado crema and a black-bean salad
Fish. It’s so darn good for you and growing brains! Responsibly farmed US tilapia is a great choice since it's mild in flavor, not too expensive and readily available at your fishmonger or grocer. Most kids (except mine!) like crunchy textures and this definitely has some crunch with the whole-wheat panko (I use Ian's brand). The avocado crema adds some creamy coolness to the tacos and the black-bean salad provides some complexity for adventurous little palates and grown-ups, too.

Tuesday: Sarah's Chicken Saag (Spinach) curry with shredded chicken, served with basmati rice and wholegrain flatbread
This not-so-hidden vegetable curry is my riff on Tikka Masala without all the cream and butter (okay, there's a little butter). Simple roasted chicken breasts provide the protein and can be prepped the evening prior making both adults and kids happy. Wholegrain flatbread instead of buttery, white-flour naan will still hit the spot with the kids, while the grown-ups will like the more complex flavors and the easy prep.

Wednesday: Spinach Ricotta Frittata with wholegrain toast and balsamic-macerated strawberries

Shannon’s boys like quiche. I took the buttery crust out of the equation with this egg-based dish. The fresh ricotta makes the frittata light and fluffy, while providing a boost of calcium. Leftover ricotta is great on waffles with jam, on bruschetta with arugula and honey, or my favorite way, by the spoonful.

Thursday: Pizza with homemade red sauce and Genoa salami served with an apple-celery slaw
The secret is in the sauce. Grated carrot is a traditional Italian component of basic tomato sauce used to enhance its inherent sweetness, but I throw in chopped spinach or grated zucchini into mine for the hidden vegetable factor. This pizza is all about the salami that gets deliciously crispy edges while in the oven. I search out nitrate-free salami when kids are eating it. Applegate Farms is one brand I like to use. And the apple-celery slaw is dressed in a maple-sherry vinaigrette and garnished with toasted peanuts for the kids and walnuts for the adults.

So, the next several posts will feature each day's recipes and their side dishes. At the end, I'll put together a grocery list to make it easy to execute the entire menu in one go. My goal is to have you prepped, shopped and ready to roll for the week ahead.

Happy eating, -s.

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  1. I love this menu ! Anything you suggest for 9 mo old finger food? We're doing avacdo, beans, tofu, chicken, peas, mango, blueberries, banana & pears. Trying to get more protein in...& more flavors ;)

  2. Thanks Jamie. All the foods you are trying are PERFECT and healthful finger foods. It's such a hard stage b/c you have to worry so much about choking (yikes!). Have you tried soft or hard-boiled eggs (diced), super-soft savory bread pudding with parmigiano grated over the top and baked until soft and pillowy? Chopped spinach or swiss chard sauteed in a little garlic and olive oil. Curried lentils were a favorite of Rhys's at this age. I did lots of grating: cheese, apple, carrot since they were small, little shavings.