Need easy (and cheap) dinner ideas

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Californiablonde, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I am about to start my summer vacation and I am on a very tight budget. Not to mention, my kids now hate everything I cook. I used to cook chicken, pot roast, stroganoff, and alfredo pasta in my crock pot, but my kids now say they can't stand these recipes any longer. Oh, and spaghetti, hot dogs, hamburger helper, hamburgers, tacos, and burritos are also off the table. My kids don't like them. lately we have been doing more fast food than we should, because I am running out of dinner options to make at home. If anybody could share some different recipes, that don't require a bunch of ingredients, that would be great. Thanks in advance.
  2. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh dear.

    I know this is going to sound harsh, but if your kids refuse to eat chicken, pot roast, stroganoff, alfredo pasta, spaghetti, hot dogs, hamburger helper, hamburgers, tacos, and burritos...Let the picky little snots STARVE.

    I mean, seriously, what's left? If they won't eat hamburgers, hot dogs tacos and burritos, how do you do fast food?

    I swear, I'd fix salad every night for a week and see how they like that. My kid was picky, but he'd always eat at least part of what's on your list.

    Okay...rant about picky kids Refrigerated dough is expensive, but it's actually not that hard to make from scratch. Trouble is you have to let it rise 20 minutes or so, so that kind of takes it out of the "fast" category. Mac n Cheese? Sandwiches? Campbell's soup? You've pretty much listed my go-to easy meals. Sorry.
  3. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    They will eat hamburgers, tacos, and burritos at fast food places. They say I have no idea how to cook. Maybe I am a terrible cook. I think it tastes good, but I guess not so much for them.
  4. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh NO they didn't! :mad:

    CB, your children are 15 and 18 years old! I say this with love:

    Fix yourself whatever the heck you want for dinner and when they ask where theirs is, point them to the kitchen and tell them to cook their own damn meals!

    I'm dead serious. Time for the cook to go on strike. How DARE they!
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  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I hate to say it but if those kids were at my house, they'd starve! When my kids were that age I fixed a decent dinner and they had two choices ... eat it or go hungry. They're KIDS! They don't get to choose what groceries you buy or what you cook unless they're paying for it! No kid is THAT picky, especially teenagers! I have a feeling they're trying to boozle you into providing them with a steady diet of fast food every night! Besides being very unhealthy, that gets extremely expensive! Toughen up, girl! Cook a decent, healthy dinner every night and they can eat it or not - their choice!
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  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    They would EACH be responsible for cooking dinner or paying for takeout at least 1-2 times a week with those snotty comments. Or they would eat PB&J every night for a few weeks.

    I was and am the queen of picky eaters due to severe sensory issues, and I NEVER pulled nonsense like this. Your kids are just RUDE.

    For an easy multi night meal, cook 2 pounds of pasta. The last few minutes of the boiling time, toss in 1-2 bags of frozen veggies. Drain it all into a big colander. Put into a giant ziploc and chill. Add your favorite salad dressing once cold - can be Italian, ranch, homemade, bottled, full calorie, low cal, whatever. You can add chicken or tuna or cheese or whatever protein source with the dressing.

    Adding the dressing when the pasta is cold keeps it from being absorbed by the pasta and this cuts down on calories by a TON. It is great for summer when you want to keep the house cool.

    I am serious about making them each cook one night a week. If they refuse, order takeout and make the child who refused to cook be the one who pays. Leave them alone with the delivery person and make sure you have your purse with you.

    Cooking is an essential life skill and at their ages they will need it very soon.. Not making them learn is a bad parenting move. Who knows, maybe they will like it? My Tyler whined and moaned about it, but I overheard him bragging to a friend about what all he could cook one day - his friend was jealous, lol.
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Seriously, what do they eat at school? If they are that picky at school, they'd be refusing to eat 95% of what's on the typical school lunch menu! And I seriously doubt if your cooking is bad. They're playing you! And they hurt your feelings which is thoughtless and downright rude! They need to be reminded that you are the parent and they are the kids! They don't get to call the shots - you do! If they don't like the food that is served at home, they can get a job, buy their own food and cook it themselves!
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'm not the greatest cook either. But... if my kids don't want the simple foods that I make, they can cook for themselves. If they really think they can cook better than me (not hard... really), then ... cook for all of us.

    As a result, I have a son that does a pretty fantastic job on the grill. And a daughter who has an incredible touch with spices. The stuff they cook really does taste good. I even ask them to cook for company.

    Simple meals in my house means: eggs (done probably a dozen ways), or cheese as the protein source, along with something for starch and some veggies and some fruit. Simple. Example: scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, salad, and mandarin oranges. Or chef salad with cheese and maybe some leftover meat or hardboiled eggs on top, a slice of bread or a bun, and some applesauce.
  9. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    I always thought it was fun to have "breakfast for dinner" when I was a kid, and I still think it's fast, different and fun. Waffles & link sausages or bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes. You can't screw it up, either, and there's always something to love.
    English Muffin pizzas are good, too. They make a larger, sandwich size English muffin, and I use my favorite jar sauce (Rao's marinara) and some shredded mozzarella. First, I toast the muffins to about medium in the toaster. In the meantime, I get the broiler in the oven going. When they're toasted to medium, I add the sauce and cheese (you can add whatever other toppings you & the kids enjoy) and slide it under the broiler for just a few minutes. Add a salad, you're done. You could get a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, already cooked, and do a million different things with that, too, if they like chicken. Slice some on a Caesar salad, add a little BBQ sauce and pineapple chunks over microwave rice, chicken waldorf salad with-grapes, nuts, etc. Depending on how picky your kids are, they may not like any of these things, but you can give them the job to research some recipes on line that they like, and if it's affordable, you guys can make it together and they'll have a better chance of eating what they cook. has some simple, affordable ideas. There's a cook on there with the last name D'Arabian who specializes in family dinners for under $10. Good luck.
  10. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I don't think this is so much about CB's cooking skills or lack thereof. I think this is a power struggle and another way of attacking CB's self-esteem.

    They aren't going to like ANYTHING she cooks. They want fast food. I agree with the Poster who suggested that CB simply stop cooking for them.

    Stop shopping for them as well, other than basic healthy ingredients. They are both old enough to begin cooking for themselves. For the daughter, who is old enough to go out on her own (or into a group home) it is important that she learn to cook.

    Have a jar of peanut butter, some jelly, and some bread on hand. If you want to be nice, have some tuna and mayo as well.

    I was an extremely picky eater (Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)). My mother and father did not make special meals for me. There was always PBJ and tuna and if I didn't like dinner, I was welcome to make a sandwich.

    (It was many years as an adult before i could stomach PB or tuna.)
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  11. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I love the recipe's. I making their arroz con pollo for iftar tonight.
  12. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Grilled cheese is always good too. You can add different types of cheese, bacon, tomato etc. Great with a can of tomato soup!
  13. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I agree 100% with GoingNorth! This is a power struggle. No teenager alive hated all those foods and refuses to eat them! They know how to hit you where it hurts, trashing your confidence and self esteem in the process. Makes you feel like YOU are failing them, like your best efforts seem like they're not good enough! And the more they can weaken you, the more that puts THEM in charge!

    Food is not the real issue here, it's a symptom. It won't be easy but you simply MUST regain your authority as the parent and get these two back to being the kids! YOU are the parent! YOU support their ungrateful entitled little butts and YOU pay the bills! YOU are the one who gets to make the decisions, not them! Don't cater to them! Again, if it were me, I'd fix a decent healthy dinner every night and they can eat it or not! If you can afford it, maybe fast food one night a week but certainly not every night!
  14. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Calamity Jane is really much nicer than me. LOL Sorry if I was harsh...but I'm just SO MAD at your kids right now! I mentioned this post to Jabber last night, he hadn't read it, and he kind if scoffed at me about not cooking for our son (because I totally did always have what he liked at home and took that into consideration when I cooked) but then I told him the "No idea how to cook" line and he agreed with me. I'd have eaten salad every day for a month just out of spite if my son had said that to me!

    I'm totally outraged on your behalf. Did they manage to LIVE to the ages of 15 and 18 on your cooking? Then you can cook. They don't rate a Cordon Bleu chef. Sorry.

    So fine...IF I'm being nice and not just shoving them in the kitchen to have a sandwich and water...I'd say I'd at least tell them that, since they don't like your cooking, it's past time for them to learn to cook anyway.

    Start with finding some simple recipes on line:

    Tell them to pick one and you'll stand by in case they need help.

    And make sure they clean up the kitchen afterwards - as I'm sure you've done for the last 18 years.
  15. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Lil is right! And 18 and 15 is certainly old enough to learn the basics of cooking and helping out! They should be doing this anyway. And incidentally, when I was a kid my parents were in an accident and my mother became an invalid. I had to take over cooking all the meals for a family of six with no one to teach me but I learned. I was 13 years old and in the 8th grade.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    My dad loved to cook and was quite a good "peasant" cook. My mother HATED cooking, and learned the bulk of her cooking skills in WWII England when food was heavily rationed. She was lucky in that her family kept chickens, so they had meat and eggs from then.

    I started cooking very basic stuff like eggs, French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches when I could reach the stove standing on a milk crate. As I got taller, my dad taught me how to make soups, stews, chili, etc, and taught me how to cook out on a grill. He also taught me how to cook roasts and steaks and such in the oven, though those were a very rare thing a we were a low-income family.

    I laugh now that shortribs, brisket, beef and lamb shanks, are all gourmet fare now (and priced like it) as I first as a child, and then as new wife, ate quite a bit of those as they were very cheap and very versatile.

    I have NEVER told my mother or father that I hated their cooking. As an adult, I have gotten to the point where if I mother is cooking cut up chicken, to ask her to take my piece out of the oven 10 mins early as she likes her food way overcooked. When my dad was alive, I would ask him to let me add the hotsauce to my chili at the table, as if he added it to it in the pot, it would take the top of your head off.

    I still make my chili according to dad's recipe, but I use real peppers instead of hotsauce.

    I was always aware that my parents worked, in the case of my dad, 3 jobs, to support us kids and keep a roof over our head once we moved to the suburbs. Cooking after a long day/night at work, was a real effort. I was about 12 when I started cooking meals. No one told me too. I just dug around, found a roasting hen, some potatoes and carrots and turnips, salad fixings, and made a roast dinner with salad as the vegetable.

    My parents were thrilled. I was until I realized WHY mom and dad always put foil in the roasting pan. Ugh...what a cleanup!

    After that, I made dinner a couple of nights a week.
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  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've made a kid friendly, inexpensive dish for years that you and your kids may enjoy. (now that the kids are all gone and we're on a plant based diet, I never cook it anymore, but it was mighty tasty!)

    Chop up a pound of bacon in small pieces and cook it with one good sized chopped onion until the bacon is crisp. Remove the excess fat. Add the bacon and onion to a pound of elbow macaroni along with a small can of tomato sauce and enough milk to make the elbows creamy along with the tomato sauce. Mix well. Put it in a casserole dish and top it with about a cup (or more if you like), of grated cheese, I used sharp cheddar. Sprinkle about a half of a cup of bread crumbs over the top with a few pats of butter. Put it in the oven, 375, until the cheese melts and it begins to bubble.

    Every kid I made this for, loved it and all of them still make it today, as grownups. We call it bacon casserole.

    I use the website quite a bit. If you go on their site and search "Kid friendly recipes", you'll find a lot of recipes.

    You might try asking your kids to make one meal each a week, to teach them to cook and to give you a break. They can figure out what to cook, make the shopping list and shop for the items. This way they can learn how to figure out meals for themselves.

    Seems like a turning point for you guys, time for them to begin being responsible for themselves in a different way. Good luck CB, let us know how it goes.......
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  18. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    They don't like school food either. Both my kids get reduced priced school breakfast and lunches based on my income. They say the school food is nasty (they each go to two different schools) and they eat bite or two and throw the rest away. Lately, my son has been taking to selling his school lunches to other kids for a dollar. He takes the dollar they give him and he goes and buys chips or crackers from the vending machine. That's it. That's why I am always concerned about him eating a decent dinner. But the kid seriously doesn't like anything, and my daughter says everything I make hurts her ulcers. I am at a loss here.
  19. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    My oldest son lived on hot dogs when he was little. That's all he ever wanted to eat. I bought the good ones at least but I worried a lot about his diet and health.

    Well NOW he is a health food nut! Him and his girlfriend eat only healthy and work out a lot. I never would have believed it!!

    So don't worry so much. They eat when they are hungry. They are not toddlers. And even they eat when they are hungry!
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  20. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Daughter with ulcers should not be eating fast food........very bad for ulcers. Feed her a diet of white bland rice and applesauce..very ulcer friendly.
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