Friday, March 6, 2015

Eating on the Go- Family Dinner Made Easy {blog series}



Yesterday I introduced this series and revealed my Big Tip for making family dinner a much easier time of day. Today I am sharing how I have navigate feeding my family on busy days or when we are on the go. I thought that this might be good to cover as we head into the weekend, which for us, is always extra busy.

EATING ON THE GO
I am not a huge fan of eating on the go. Generally, I feel that food is better digested and enjoyed when sitting and focusing on just the act of eating. I also feel that food in moving vehicles can be dangerous, especially for young children, so we have been very cautious about it. However, we live 20 minutes out of town and going shopping or taking the kids to activities requires a lot of time in transport. Here are my tips for eating on the go:
  • bring food and drinks that, if spilled, won't damage the vehicle
  • avoid straws; sippy cups for little ones, and travel mugs or cups for bigger kids
  • avoid foods that are easily a choking hazard for young children (nuts, popcorn, raw carrots, whole grapes, hard candy, hot dogs)
  • use durable reusable containers for packing small quantities of food
  • we don't buy single packaged food, it is very expensive and wasteful and never as healthy as whole food such as fruit or veggies
  • our favorite on-the-go snacks- pieces of fruit or veggies, homemade baked goods, granola (a little messy), small sandwiches, and water. 
Here is my recipe for Cranberry Scones- a great quick snack to bake with kids and eat on the go!

EATING OUT AS A FAMILY AND STAYING HEALTHY
When I was a new mom, all I wanted was a healthy drive-thru. And then when I had a toddler and a newborn I REALLY wanted a healthy drive-thru. My best bet was grabbing lunch at Whole Foods or Starbucks when I needed to quickly eat out with the kids. As the kids got older and we took them to restaurants, we discovered that many restaurants have terrible food on the kids menu. We stopped ordering from the kids menu and simply ordered more of what we were eating because the kids had become accustomed to eating the same as us. We also eat out less than most families do. This was actually a huge decision for us for many reasons. Financially, it made sense. And we found that we could make a lot of the food we craved from a restaurant as well, if not better, than what we could go out for, and for much less money. My husband and I prefer to use our eating out funds for just the two of us or a special occasion.

WEEKEND DINNERS
In our home, we consider Friday and Saturday nights our Fun Food dinners. This is when we have pizza or pancakes for dinner or burgers and fries. All homemade, of course! Pizza has been our Friday Night Fun Food for as long as we have had kids. I love making pizza dough with them and letting them top their own pizzas. It is remarkably easy to make pizza dough and the toppings are often whatever leftover bits of veggies, cheese, and meat we have in the fridge from the week. You may have seen our Friday Night Pizza on Instagram many times!

Here is the recipe for my oh so easy PIZZA DOUGH. Make lots and freeze some for another week, or a late night snack, or for some easy flat bread for a light dinner of soup or salad.

FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA RECIPE

  1. In a large bowl, pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. 
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of yeast and stir to combine. Allow to sit until yeast has bubbled up.
  3. Add 4 cups all-purpose flour to water mixture. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and kneed for a few minutes until dough is a smooth ball.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. 
  6. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I place bowl of dough on stove for the heat)
  7. Remove dough from bowl and divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball until smooth and sit under the kitchen towel while you roll the dough.
  8. Roll your first pizza dough a place on a pizza pan. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. 
  9. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly brown and bubbly.
  10. While waiting on first pizza, roll out remaining dough and prepare. I bake two pizzas at a time and rotate half-way through baking.
  11. Remove baked pizza from oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving. 
This recipes will make 4 pizzas but can easily be doubled. When I double the batch, I roll out the remaining dough and freeze on sheet pans in the freezer. I then wrap in parchment paper and plastic wrap and I have 4 pizza shells ready to use in the freezer. They bake very well from frozen but do extend the baking time.

HINT: Once you master homemade pizza dough there are so many variations. This dough is flexible and works great as a flat bread, rolls, or buns. 

Enjoy! I hope to hear from you so please leave comments or questions.

Next up? On Sunday I am sharing my PLAN for the week to help you be organized for a week of healthy, easy dinners!

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