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How to cook with staple ingredients

Cooking Kid-Approved Meals With Staple Ingredients

try these simple tips

Going to the grocery store right now is not the most ideal outing. Got gloves? A mask? Where are the wipes?? So if you’re in that boat but need to cook a few meals, you might want a few tips on how to cook some kid-approved meals with staple ingredients. Our mom blogger Jenay gave us her tips on how to do that.


“What’s for dinner?” OMG. Please don’t ask.

Before sheltering-in-place, I used to joke that I was the chef, teacher, referee, etc. Now that I am “teaching” four different grades of elementary school, working full-time and cooking upteen meals a day, I realize I was just being dramatic.

The worst part of cooking for four little foodies (they’re actually quite large) is they turn their noses up at many meals, which is a luxury we can’t afford when fresh groceries are scarce and trips to the store aren’t possible.

What to do?

Let’s be real, without a little know-how, your standard Pinterest spiral will not solve this problem. Luckily, we’re all in this together, so I have a few tips to share.

Protect Your Pantry

Before we begin, I need to issue a warning: If you are tempted to try all of those experiments you found on Pinterest while searching for recipes to entertain your kids during “homeschool,” let me strongly suggest you proceed with caution.

Many experiments use luxurious pantry staples that, while super convenient in regular times, can be a real bummer to find now. Most of the ideas we found required oil, flour, milk, sugar, vinegar, baking powder, foil, or (my precious) eggs—so only engage in these fun activities if you’re sure you can spare them!

Raid Your Pantry

And your fridge and freezer, too. Take inventory of what you have, and what you don’t.

If you’re like me, you probably have some surprising ingredients you’ve forgotten, while you’re mysteriously low on something you thought you had in bulk. Once you’ve taken stock, prioritize your stash.

Know what fresh items you need to use before they spoil, and what frozen or canned items you can keep. Also, prepare your family for the mind shift that comes with changing up the diet a bit. As a large family that used to buy five dozen eggs a week, we’ve had to come to terms with cutting back in this area. Think of it as a dietary adventure!

Be Creative

Get ready to think outside the (ice)box—it’s time to get those creative juices flowing.

Got a bunch of bananas but your kids “don’t eat those?” Well, they do now! Turn them into pancakes with only two simple ingredients.

Got eggroll wrappers but no sausage or cabbage to fill them? Bust out a can of pie filling and make turnovers. Let your kids in on the fun—they are super creative by nature. Pull out some head-scratching ingredients and let them build a list of all the things they can make with them.

Some of these will be a total loss, but at least a few ideas will make the list and might even inspire some creative ideas of your own.

Use Strategic Googling

When I don’t have a clue what to make, there is little more frustrating than finding a delicious looking recipe only to realize I don’t have all the ingredients.

Rather than face that disappointment, I do a little pre-work first. I scour my kitchen for the items I want to use that look like they vaguely might go together and put them on the table. Then, I type in the ingredients I have and the word “recipe” in the search bar online. Up pops hundreds of suggestions! (Not all of them good … ) But at least I have somewhere to start!

Another idea for when your pantry is getting bar is to search for two or three-ingredient recipes online. Just scrolling through these can give you a ton of ideas you never thought of before, and it is very likely you will have all or most of the ingredients.

When only a few ingredients are required, it’s easier to quickly see if you have anything that can serve as an obvious substitution.

Turn Picky Eaters into Sous Chefs

Can’t please your food critics? Give them an apron and make them help!

Something about having ownership in the menu can turn even the most standard meal into a delicacy. If your older kids are complaining about boring meals, turn over the keys to the kitchen and let them get cooking. Even if they have a kitchen #fail, figuring it out for themselves might help them better appreciate the process.

With these tips, you can be well on your way to making some lockdown meals that even your kids enjoy. And when all else fails, never forget the power of buttered noodles. They go with everything.

Bon appetit!


Jenay Sherman is a Christian, wife, and mother to four boys in McKinney, Texas. She was selected as the 2017 Texas Mother of the Year, and loves writing about their family adventures. You can follow along on Scary Mommy, or on her personal site, 4 Amusing Muses.

Image courtesy of Pexel.