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Phoning it In: What I Feed My Son When There’s No Time to Cook

It’s that glorious time of year in Seattle: the days are long and hot and it’s hard to focus on work when the beach or hiking trails beckon. My husband Sam makes a mean sun tea that’s in heavy rotation and we survive on big green salads, soba noodles, and anything that can feasibly be thrown on the grill.

3 min read

My mantra before having a baby was that summer cooking should be easy – when you’ve got all those fresh tomatoes and corn, dinner should practically make itself. Which is true, except when you have a wiggly, slightly picky toddler who craves to be outside playing just as much as we do. No one wants to spend as much time in the kitchen preparing dinner, and I’ll be the first to admit it: sometimes – especially in the summer—we phone it in. Here are my favorite easy go-to’s:

Frozen Turkey Meatballs

Having frozen meatballs in the fridge is a must in our house: they’re a simple answer to the ‘what do we feed Oliver tonight’ question and while I used to make them homemade, these days I tend to pick them up from the store to save on time. If I’m feeling inclined, I’ll make a creamy mustard sauce, but ketchup is the real fan favorite.

Cheese Quesadillas

Getting our son to eat any green veggies besides frozen peas is a challenge, so I’ve taken to whipping up quick cheese quesadillas and tucking finely chopped cooked broccoli inside. This is also a great portable option when our family is eating outside and Oliver’s too antsy and excited to sit in his seat.

Tortellini with Tomato Sauce

We keep a bag of tortellini in the cupboard at all times, and I freeze little blocks(Opens in a new window) of marinara sauce in individual portions for the nights when a quick, no-stress pasta feels like the best bet.

Tuna Salad and Sweet Potato Fries

A can of tuna and a quick spoonful of plain yogurt or mayonnaise makes an easy tuna salad that we all love. I’ll often tuck it into a little pita for Oliver, and toss some sweet potato fries in the oven every now and then for a treat.

Beans, Rice and Avocado

A quick, often-relied-upon kiddo meal is a scoop of refried beans, leftover brown rice and some diced avocado(Opens in a new window) on the side. With no more than a five-minute time commitment, it’s generally met with smiles and has a good hit of protein, which makes me feel good in turn.


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