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5 Ridiculous Family Food Ideas Worth Trying

Sometimes I find myself instantly recoiling from a food idea, only to discover that with the right approach it's perfectly brilliant. Here are 5 ideas I'm embracing these days:

1. Trader Joe’s Microwaveable Macaroni and cheese

Trader Joe's Microwaveable Mac N Cheese

When my husband brought this home, I harrumphed around the house, sighed, moaned and gasped. Microwaveable pasta? Surely a foodie travesty.

Then, one day I was desperate for a quick lunch I could make without cooking, because it was HOT out, and we don’t have air conditioning. (Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. We live in cloudy-almost-all-the-time Seattle.)

So I popped this sucker into the microwave and miracle of miracles – the kids DEVOURED it. I served it with cut up veggies on the side to make up for the fact that I’m not entirely sure it’s food. But who cares? They ate it, were full, and I didn’t have to cook. Done.

And if you simply cannot cope with the idea of mac n cheese from a box, here’s a great recipe for microwave mac n cheese made from scratch by

2. The Food Face Dinner Plate

My kids cannot get enough of using the Fred and Friends Food plates – even my ten year old. And they ABSOLUTELY do eat more vegetables because of it.

When I bought them it was my husband’s turn to harrumph around the house about how I spoil the kids, waste money, blah blah….

Of course, I know if they were REALLY hungry they’d eat anything, like those kids starving in Africa. But let’s face it – I’m NEVER gonna let my kids get as hungry as kids in Africa. So for them – and for me -- these plates WORK.

3. Kids Lunch Box Cards

Lunch Box Cards

The first time I ever heard about a mom putting love notes in her kids’ lunchbox it was on the blog of a mom whose son was dying of cancer. So it came as a HUGE shock to discover that moms of perfectly healthy, over-privileged kids were writing lunchbox notes too.

Don’t I do enough for them already? They should be grateful I’m packing their lunch at all!

Still, I felt guilty, so I made half-hearted attempts to remember to write something on their napkins. My kids totally didn’t buy it.

Enter lunchbox cards. I first saw them on the Busy Mommy website and snorted. But then I thought, wait a minute… and now I’m totally dying to try them

4. Variations on basics like peanut butter and jelly

Kids LOVE peanut butter and jelly exactly as it is. Why would you mess around and add more work?

Here’s why: Even if the kids aren’t sick of eating it, YOU might get sick of making it. So here are a few ways to jazz up classic pb&j.

5. Canned, pitted black olives

Canned Black olives

If you’ve ever eaten real calamata olives, you know that these are gross and totally beyond the pale for discerning palates. But here’s why I buy them anyway:

  • Kids LOVE ‘em.
  • They’re CHEAP.
  • You can buy them by the case at Costco and serve them in a last-minute pinch.
  • They’re better than potato chips as a side to sandwiches.

Plus, if you start with these, it’s only a matter of time before your kids will start eating real olives.

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