One thing I’m proud of is that even though we are a busy family always on the go, we almost never eat fast food for dinner. In fact, most evenings we still manage to eat dinner all together at the table. Of course, having a teenage son who seems to never leave the table except to find more food gives us more time to gather everyone else around. Last month, I discussed some of the things we do to keep our sanity through all of the running around but today I’d like to talk about some of the quick and easy things we keep on hand to eat.
We love almonds
and they are great for you but they can be expensive and the roasted/salted/flavored variety you find in the store are not exactly the healthiest thing for you. My solution? I buy 10 pounds of raw almonds at a time from D & S Ranches in California. I dry-roast about a pound at a time in the oven and keep them in a sealed glass container for everyone to eat. The extra is stored in the fridge to keep them fresh. It’s not easy to shell out that much money for almonds, but the bulk purchase brings the cost to about $7.50 per pound.
To roast them, I put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 6 - 7 minutes. Then I stir them up a bit and put them back in for another 6 - 7 minutes. You have to pay attention to because they can quickly go from perfectly roasted to having a burned flavor. When they are done, they should have darkened a little and you should hear a crackling sound. I just leave them on the baking sheet to cool. Keep in mind they will continue to cook a little more after you remove them from the oven. I eat them in my Greek yogurt every day.
If you buy raw almonds, you should know that the FDA requires raw almonds to be pasteurized. There are two methods to doing this and one involves a pretty nasty chemical that is banned in many other countries but allowed by the FDA. That’s why I order from D & S Ranches because they do not use chemicals for pasteurization.
We also keep a bag of baby carrots on hand.
We realized a long time ago that regular carrots by the bunch are cheaper, but we just are too lazy to wash, peel, and cut them. Now we just buy the baby carrots and I eat them every day. If we put them on the table at dinner time the kids will dig in too.
There is always a bunch of bananas on our counter.
They make a great snack or breakfast. If they get too ripe, my wife makes banana bread with them. If we can’t keep up on banana bread for some reason, we peel them and put them in a bag in the freezer to use for smoothies. We also keep frozen blueberries in the freezer for the same purpose. The fridge is also stocked with apples, pears, and oranges.
For breakfast, my kids seem to alternate between cereal and pancakes.
I’m not a fan of the cereal even though I ate bushels of it as a kid and usually added sugar to it. I have to admit though, it’s an easy breakfast that the kids can handle themselves. Our tradition is to make pancakes from scratch on Saturday morning. We cook a huge batch so that there are always some left over. Those go in the fridge and the kids warm them up in the toaster during the week.
The recipe we use is on AllRecipes.com but we double it (except for the sugar) and also use a mixture of white and whole wheat flour. We also thaw out some of those frozen blueberries and add them for blueberry pancakes. Occasionally, we mix it up a little and make waffles instead but the kids seem to prefer pancakes. I remember calling waffles “bumpy pancakes” when our oldest was young so he would eat them!
We also have a few go-to meals we seem to make frequently that I’ll save for some other time. We aren’t always the healthiest eaters, but I think we do OK. I think it’s important to teach kids early what is a good snack and what isn’t. I always have part of that song from the 1980’s stuck in my head: “The best foods come in wrappers of their own”. Enjoy.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2017