My 10 year old was primarily responsible for this dinner last night, as it was just the two of us for dinner so we decided to go with something simple and quick. Teaching kids how to plan and prepare meals is tremendously helpful for them. They learn more about where their food comes from, they practice math and measuring skills, you can talk about food groups and nutritionally balanced meals and they develop a better appreciation for the meals in front of them. Cooking can also be a hands-on science experiment, especially baking bread where they can see the chemical changes taking place. The nutritional benefit to having kids help with meal planning and preparation is that they are more likely to try new foods (think vegetables ) if they have a hand in selecting and preparing them.
Here is what we made last night with only 5 main ingredients on hand!
Tortellini and Spinach soup with grilled cheese sandwich.
Soup: V8 juice, frozen cheese tortellinis, fresh spinach
Grilled Cheese: whole wheat bread, extra sharp Vermont Cheddar cheese.
We poured about 2 cups of V8 juice into a medium saucepan and added dried basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Add to that about 2 cups of frozen tortellinis (my kids LOVE pasta-use less if you are counting calories) and heat over medium heat until pasta is cooked through. Because I had fresh baby spinach on hand, I put my spinach fresh in my bowl and then ladled the soup over the top. If you have frozen spinach on hand then add that to the soup with the tortellinis and cook all together. Fresh basil goes great with the soup as well, unfortunately my garden is currently frozen!
The grilled cheese is pretty simple. We use whole wheat bread, a very light spread of Smart Balance on the outside of the bread and one slice of extra-sharp Cheddar cheese. I love my cast iron panini pan as it makes these great looking grill marks and the top press cover helps melt the cheese without overcooking the outside of the bread.