Sunday feast: our new weekly ritual

The following is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen.

Over the summer, I let our meal planning routines slide.  There were trips, food-laden events, picnics, and hot days that simply didn’t inspire me to cook.  Now that we’re back into the school year routine, I’m working more, and my eldest has homework for the first time, so I needed to rethink our meal planning, cooking, and eating schedules.

I love cooking, but when I’m under pressure and have a ton to think about and do, it can sometimes feel like a chore.  I re-evaluated my approach and discovered several things:

1. Last school year I put too much pressure on myself to serve a brand-new homemade meal every night.  I would plan a full, from-scratch meal for every dinner, but I wouldn’t always manage to actually cook them because life sometimes gets too busy.  I decided to stop feeling guilty about that and instead embrace a more simplified approach.   And we always have leftovers anyway; most recipes are not designed for one adult and two small children.

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Baking bread with children

Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

Last week I mentioned that our simple weekly rhythm includes a cooking and baking day.  Cooking together can happen at any time during the week, of course, but once a week I am intentional about it and set aside time specifically to bake with the children.

Our baking day is on Monday.  It is a pleasant way to start the week together and it gives us quality time in the kitchen (plus, there’s something yummy to enjoy for our labors).

Bread baking is one of our favorite things, but it isn’t a process you can speed through.  I think this makes baking bread a good tool for teaching patience.

I’ve discovered a few tips that help teach kids patience when baking and make it fun and creative for them, almost like acting out a story.  Who doesn’t love a little playtime in the kitchen?

So, let’s wash our hands, put on our aprons, and bake some bread together!

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Encouraging kids to drink water

Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

If you were to take a peek into the refrigerator at our house you would find veggies, butter, yogurt, and the gallon of milk or two (or three) that you would expect a family of six to have.

However, you might be surprised by what is missing:  the arsenal of juice boxes, drink pouches, and soda cans standard in the typical family diet – but we don”t actually miss those things at all.

What quenches our thirst?  Water.  Cool, refreshing water.

At our house my kids know that their beverage choices are milk, water, and our daily smoothie.  We limit juice, avoid soda, and focus on drinking water.

It wasn”t always this way, and if I”m being honest,  I need to admit that some of my kids (those who have been drinking water from the time they were toddlers) don”t need very much encouragement to drink water.  Drinking water is already a life-long habit for my younger kids.

But, some of them do need a little extra incentive to hydrate with water from time to time.  This was especially true when we first began to focus on developing this good habit together as a family.  For my oldest, it isn”t quite as easy.

Moms and Dads, are you having a hard time convincing your kids to drink water?

I understand, I”ve been in your shoes, and I have a few suggestions that might help.

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Simple summer snacks for kids

The following post from the archives was written by editor Kara Fleck. It originally appeared in June of 2011.

The days are growing longer and hotter.  This time of year, my family wants to to eat things that are lighter and I don’t want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen preparing a snack. The sooner we can get back to the Summer fun, the better! This is the time to enjoy while it lasts, afterall.

At our house, during the warmer months, I have two main ideas that I fall back on for simple Summertime snacks for the kids: the muffin tin of “nibbles” and popsicles.

The muffin tin of “nibbles”

Setting out a muffin tray of bite-sized snacks for the kids to nibble on is something that goes back to my own childhood.  My mom used to prepare a muffin tin of snacks on Friday nights and leave it in the fridge for us to help ourselves to on Saturday mornings (so that she could sleep in one day a week, that wise woman).

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Tips for kid-friendy green smoothies

My friends, we’re enjoying a few days of rest and relaxation and getting a jump on our weekend.  So, today I’d love it if you joined me over at Rockin’ Granola where earlier this week I shared some tips for kid-friendly green smoothies.

Green smoothies (or orange, pink, purple, or red) are one of this Granola Mama’s secrets to getting healthy things into her kiddos.  All manner of good things my children might not otherwise eat they will happily consume in the form of a smoothie and green smoothies are one of my favorite treats, as well.

From kale to spinach to carrots and even pureed sweet potato or pumpkin, adding a little extra veggie dose in our fruit smoothies has become a regular part of the rhythm of our days.  In fact, we usually have a smoothie in the color of the day as part of our afternoon snack, though sometimes we have them for breakfast or with lunch, too.  I’ve even made popsicles out of them.

You can, too!

[Read the rest at Rockin' Granola ...]