As a mom of 3 boys, I can attest to big appetites to match high activity levels. Not to discount the activity and appetites of growing girls in any way, it’s just that the world I know is bathed in testosterone. Our witchy black cat Savannah being the only other estrogen producer in the house!
From days of school sports and after-school activities to our current life of working young men with heavy workout schedules, much of my time remains in the kitchen. While I have always tried to keep our meals healthy and nourishing, you can imagine the difficulty of keeping each palate happy. I have a carb lover, a meat lover, and a sugar lover – what do you do with that? Adding to these diverse tastes, we have sensitivities to egg, nut, and dairy thrown in.
I cook with a lot of brown rice, rice pasta with some organic gluten-free pasta from time to time, grass-fed beef, onions, peppers, and chicken. Some of my family favorites include chicken cacciatore, spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, enchiladas, burgers with homemade baked potato fries, salmon, goulash, and homemade macaroni and cheese (1 pot vegan, 1 pot regular). Making these meals last to help save money is a challenge and left-overs are almost unheard of in my house. I remember when I was growing up, Fridays were often left-over night, making sure all the food made throughout the week was eaten and my mother got a night off in the kitchen. Not in my house – it goes away before my very eyes like my personal daily magic show. More often than not, someone is coming back for seconds before the last person was even served. It’s quite an event!
Some tricks I have learned over the years include:
- Add to the meat! Add mushrooms, onions, peppers, celery, and rice to make the meat go farther. It’s not only a way to turn a pound of high-quality beef into 2 pounds but adds to the nutritional value of the final meal.
- Make enough for 2 meals. If you are spending time making a pan of enchiladas or lasagna, buy an extra pan and make 2. One can be stored in the freezer for an easy meal on a busy night. Do that a few times and you have home-prepared frozen meals ready in a pinch!
- Sneak in a meatless meal. The cost of meat is high and adds to the financial burden of feeding a crew. Using brown rice, quinoa, beans, and vegetables, you can create rice bowls, burritos, and tacos that are healthy, taste good, and inexpensive. Even a vegetarian chili can be cleverly disguised as regular chili with the right blend of herbs, spices, beans, and rice. Rice and beans together make a complete protein, with the added nourishment of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a lot of bang for very little buck!
- Breakfast for dinner! I think most people enjoy breakfast for dinner, the best part being, breakfast is relatively inexpensive. A few eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, and some milk can make amazing frittatas or omelets. Eggs are incredibly nutritious and easy to digest. They provide all amino acids with a high vitamin and mineral profile, and they taste great. An egg scramble with vegetables and a fruit bowl might just be a kid’s best dinner dream, especially eating in pajamas.
- Never underestimate the power of smoothies! They often get a back rap because they are considered high in sugar, however, they don’t have to be. For the pickier eater or the sugar craver, frozen bananas, berries, a handful of greens, a scoop of protein powder and a cup of milk is a healthy, filling treat. Adding more ingredients like nut butter, cacao powder, super greens powder, and chia seeds makes them more flavorful and filling. For families with active kids, smoothies are perfect for an after-practice meal with a healthy sandwich on the side. They also make a great school day breakfast for a busy family.
These are just a few things that have made my life easier over the years. While my house is quieter without school sports, sleepovers, and teammates with the coach around, I still have big appetites to fill. Working to support my young guys as they continue to develop and find their vocations and wings to fly, keeping them nourished is my family wellness plan. I would love to hear what has worked in your family wellness plan when it comes to navigating life with endless appetites! Feel free to leave a comment below.