Ask the Readers: What are your Top Frugalicious Foods for Kids?

I would love to write an article on frugalicious foods for kids. The problem is, I don’t have any kids to feed. Rather than make something up, and fall flat on my frugalicious face, I’d like to ask you guys to share your tips for getting kids to eat healthy, delicious, and frugal foods.

The best suggestions will be featured, annotated, and photographed for an upcoming post on squawkfox!

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Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Kid Friendly Meals and Snacks: Tell me about your favorite frugal+healthy+delicious kid’s lunches, dinners, and treats! How do you make them? How do you save money?
  • Food Tips and Tricks: How do you get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies? Do you design funny food faces? How do you keep them away from packaged processed foods, sugars, and junk?
  • Kid Stories: Got any funny kid’s food stories? Do you sing a veggie song? How do you teach them about healthy eating?

Some stuff to keep in mind:

  • Can I Make it? To be honest, I’m not a great cook. So if your tip is tricky and requires me to hire help I probably will have to skip it. Besides, don’t we all want to make something simple?
  • Is it Healthy? I have a strong bias for healthful foods. So don’t go recommending stuff like Lunchables, ’cause you’ll give me a coronary.
  • Picture Perfect? I would love to take the best foods and photograph them in a visual guide. Some foods just look weird in pictures though. So hopefully your suggestion will look delicious when photographed.
    • So please leave your kid frugalicious food suggestions in a comment below. If you have “blog comment phobia” then feel free to email (squawkfox [at] gmail [dot] com) your thoughts. Looking forward to your frugalicious foods for kids!

Your two cents:

  1. CindyS April 27th, 2008

    My kids are absolutely enchanted with Tortellini with Pesto. I figured they would hate it because it’s green, pasty and good for them. I’m not sure how it happened but they request it at every holiday meal and whenever basil is in season. The recipe is fairly simple and I warn you in advance I don’t measure things unless I’m baking so all measurements are approximate. I put 1/2 cup of olive oil in the blender and add a 1/2 cup of pine nuts along with a 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and then I add handful or two of fresh basil and a pinch or two of sea salt and put the blender on blend until it’s all one unrecognizable mash. I then add an artichoke and blend it again. You can leave out the artichoke if you like but it makes the texture much creamier.

    Boil tortellini or you can use ravioli according to directions. Drain. Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto and stir to coat the pasta. You can serve it warm or cold and the pesto will keep for a week or more in the fridge. The top may get dark. It won’t hurt it but if you don’t like the discoloration add a tsp of lime juice to the top before refrigerating.

    Maybe my kids are weird but they love it and their friends like it too. The pine nuts are expensive but you use such a small amount of the pesto that it goes a long way and ends up being an easy and frugal meal. (My kids like it better than kraft macaroni and cheese)

  2. Emily April 27th, 2008

    My almost 4 year old daughter is a fabulous eater – she’ll try anything and pretty much loves everything but onions. And I like eating onions whole so who knows how we’re related.

    ANYway…

    frugalicious snacks – homemade hummus and crackers or pitas, carrots in homemade dip, jelly sandwiches – okay, maybe those aren’t so fabulous LOL

    frugalicious breakfast – yogurt with chopped fresh fruit or scrambled eggs on toasted english muffin are favorites. And of course, pancakes.

    frugalicious lunch – homemade soup and sandwiches, quesadillas with leftovers chopped up and put inside (ones that go, of course), and a little less fabulous – mac n cheese with hot dogs 🙂

    frugalicious dinner – well, she eats what i make for all of us so that’s pretty much anything.

    a surefire way to get her to try something if she’s balking is to let her dip it in something. kids, they love their dipping 🙂

  3. Melissa April 28th, 2008

    My kids are 7 and 9. Some of their favorite foods/snacks are:

    1. Breakfast–pancakes. I make up a batch of whole wheat pancake mix from FOOD TO LIVE BY and mix it up “on demand.” They love it with homemade applesauce spread on top.

    2. Lunches–They love any type of sandwiches (especially PB&J and Egg Salad) and Quesadillas

    3. Snacks–Tortilla chips and salsa, plain yogurt with fruit mixed in (strawberries and raspberries are the faves), fresh fruit, veggies and dip (kids love pretty much anything in dip, I agree with the above commenter)

    4. Dinner–They eat anything. They love balsamic vinegar and teriyaki sauce, so as long as I stir fry veggies in either of those, they will inhale them. They also adore “chicken on the bone” rather than boneless chicken, so I try to roast a chicken every other week. Mashed potatoes are a huge hit also.

  4. Kerry April 28th, 2008

    OK, I am totally surprised with what all your kids like to eat! STUNNED is more like it. Lots of yogurt and fruit and eggs and pancakes. Ohh, my. I am looking forward to making all these yummy things. Dips are huge?

    CindyS: Tortellini with pesto? Wow, your kids have classy taste buds. I can boil pasta. Very cool.

    Emily: Ohhh, you just reminded me how much I loved dipping foods when I was a kid. I love the scrambled eggs on English muffin. Yummy.

    Melissa: Your kids love balsamic vinegar and teriyaki sauce? More classy taste buds. I love that’s how you get them to eat veggies. Very neat. I also love mashed potatoes. Looks like dipping is a hit with your family too.

  5. Chickadee April 30th, 2008

    My girls are grown up now, but they liked many of the foods mentioned by the other posters. I think that children just learn to enjoy whatever the adults are eating. If nutrition is important to you, then they will learn this from you. Imaginative presentation, as in the cute photo in your article, also makes food fun for kids.

    Some of the girls’ favorites were:
    -Buckwheat pancakes (made into funny shapes like a bunny, a cat… oops, if it doesn’t look like a cat, tell them it’s a spaceship… wow!)
    -Oatmeal porridge served with raisins, sunflower seeds, etc.
    -Homemade mini-pizza’s with various toppings
    -Anything with cheese on it

    I should also mention that we did NOT have a tv set, so they weren’t brainwashed to think that they should demand processed kiddie junk-food. We did let them try the junk-food so that they didn’t crave it as something forbidden, and they did not find it special. I think that the main reason junk food is popular is that it’s heavily advertised. TV is a whole other issue, and in my opinion, not having it makes a person more of an independent thinker when it comes to making spending decisions. You are not carrying any ‘programming’ to influence you. I grew up without TV, and this is why I felt it made a huge difference. My daughters, have all thanked me for not having the TV, and are on track towards FI. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox now!

    There is a wonderful cookbook published by La leche League (a breast-feeding support group) titled, Whole Foods for the Whole Family. It’s all about making healthy eating frugal and fun for kids. There is even a section of simple recipes that kids can prepare themselves. You might find some inspiration there, if you can find a copy.

  6. make art every day April 30th, 2008

    i have a great recipe for whole wheat pancakes and my girls (4 and 6) gobble them up. they also love turkey bacon. let me know if you’d like the pancake recipe and i’ll send it over.

    sometimes i let them make food faces. i give them a piece of bread and put out a deviled egg plate with little bits of foods — cut up fruit, thin slices of carrots, bits of cereal, and sometimes some chocolate chips. they get to put together their own meal and they love it.

    i also like to involve my girls in cooking/prep. i taught my older girl how to cut up vegetables for salad and all of a sudden she decided to have salad for dinner too. my younger daughter can make mini muffins (from a packaged mix for now; we’ll move on to scratch as she gets older) on her own.

    i don’t force them to eat anything; i give them choices. i thought they’d turn their noses up at turkey sausage last night, but when i mentioned that it tasted like hot dogs they both wanted to try.

    one last thing: the four of us eat dinner together as a family every night. no tv, no phone calls. we talk about our days and sometimes pull out our box of questions and find out some new stuff about each other.

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