What to Feed Kids When You Really Need Them to Eat

Yes, Halloween yesterday. Giant candy binge, pre-bedtime. Brilliant. Whoever thought of including the under 5 set in this scheme should be spanked.

What was I doing yesterday afternoon to prepare for a fun holiday? Putting the last touches on cute hand-sewn costumes? Nope, I had intelligently finished our giant rolling ice cream truck and two matching kiddie-aprons (4yo’s idea) in the morning, and spent that last hour preparing a fortifying feast of macaroni and cheeseandfishandpeas. Because if my angels are going to gorge on sugar, pure and unadulterated, by god they are at least going to start with a belly full of protein and whole grains.

What do you cook at your house when you really need a sure bet? Here at Camp Apronstringz, I am lucky damn dog. Both my kids love fish, and the aforementioned mouthful macaroni is the only kind they’ve ever known. I make it with whole wheat noodles (read this old post if you think they’re no good), high quality canned salmon, about half as many peas as noodles, and very little cheese sauce. It’s not so healthy as to warm my heart when I see them eating it, but it’s hardly crap food and it’s my 4yo’s self-proclaimed favorite, so I always score points when I make it. We were at a friend’s house the other day and she offered some macaroni and cheese. “Andfishandpeas?” my girl asked. I had to convince her that plain mac and cheese was in fact very good.

I’ve mentioned this macaroni and cheesesandfishandpeas business before, I make it probably once a week. But I recently found a revelation in cheese sauce making and thought maybe it was time for a real recipe. Here’s the trick– with enough fat, grated cheese will melt into a beautiful, velvety sauce without having to make a roux! The recipe I saw called for heavy cream, but I never have that around, and this meal needs to be made from stock components. I am a half and half addict (almost as essential as the coffee itself) so I tried it with that and butter. It’s worth a try with plain ole milk and butter, if that’s what you keep in the fridge.

CJ’s Easy Win Mac n’ Cheesenfishnpeas

  • 1/2 lb macaroni noodles
  • 2-3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3+ cup highest fat dairy you got
  • a few ounces grated cheddar
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas
  • 1– 6 oz can high quality canned salmon (not that nasty stuff with the skin and bones) or tuna

Boil the noodles as per usual. When they are about half cooked carefully set a shallow mixing bowl on top of the pot of boiling pasta and put all the dairy into the bowl. Give a stir every few minutes, it will melt into a beautiful sauce. Don’t leave it too long or it will separate. Pour frozen peas into another bowl in the sink, with the colander set over the top. Drain pasta into colander, allowing peas’ bowl to fill with water, defrosting your peas. Return pasta to pot and pour cheese over, or stir noodles directly into the mixing bowl of sauce if it’s big enough. Open your can of fish and dump, juice and all, into the noodles. Break up with a fork. Drain peas and add. Stir the lot together and serve hot! If you rinse the peas bowl and pasta pot right away (they’re hardly dirty, right?) you’ll only have the one dirty dish.

Happy Halloween!

8 thoughts on “What to Feed Kids When You Really Need Them to Eat

  1. My never fail easy meal is exactly the same for my two (who are pretty similar ages to yours too) but I call it the far less inspiring “salmon mornay” and do make a roux. I also throw in tiny diced carrots but 2 vegetables seems to be the limit. And luckily we in Australia are not so into Halloween, so we got off fairly lightly for that sugar fest!

  2. I like the detailed instructions on how to cook with minimal resource use. I took your tip from yesterday’s audit and cooked up some squash in the extra oven spacewhen I cooked ribs last night.

  3. Nice recipe. In our house it’s soup, although they make a fuss if they don’t have bread to dunk in it. Every now and then we buy smoked salmon to get a mega clean protein fish hit. They like it on scrambled eggs with toast.good old english stylee tinned baked beans ( Canneloni beans in orange sweetish tasting veggie tomatoey sauce) on toast is always good here too, cheap as chips, and full of fibre and goodness. And smoothies – they’d drink them every day a – bit of manuka thrown into a banana smoothie is always a hit. Just started drinking this powdered organic protein supplement shake stuff called frutein which has 50 different veg/ fruit – could chuck a half scoop of that into a fruit smoothie- the kids prob wouldn’t even notice….They price is seriously ouch though! I think it’s an import ( possible american ) so it may be cheaper to buy it stateside.

  4. Halloween tradition in my family is chili and hot dogs. This year we had it going in 4 houses (I got my ex and former step-daughter hooked on the tradition as well). It takes 5 minutes to brown up the meat, another 3 to dump everything in the crock pot and throw away the trash. Then we could have a bowl before going out trick or treating, and seconds when we got back to warm up. It was ready whenever anybody wanted some no matter what was happening that evening, and it meant chili nachos for lunch for as long as there was chili left. Delightful.

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