Back-to-School Food – Ideas from Readers By Edan Goode

We asked and you answered! We had a big response to our Back-to-School-Food Ideas blog which inspired us to ask our readers what they are serving the kids now that school is Lunchboxback in session. Here are some suggestions for school breakfasts, lunches and snacks from our readers. Thank you, everyone!


For breakfast, I make a fried egg, cooked in olive oil, and put it between two slices of whole wheat bread for a sandwich. It’s protein-rich and the kids can take it with them in the car if we have to rush.


Tacos. In her thermos, I mix ground beef and refried beans. In a separate container, I give her lettuce, taco shells and whatever else she wants that day for tacos. At lunch, she mixes the thermos and the taco shells together and makes herself a taco salad. Anything left over, she has for a snack at school.


For breakfasts, I make smoothies with protein powder and yogurt. For lunches, I make mini quiches and mini meatloafs ( using muffin tins ) and pack them in their lunchboxes. You can freeze a bunch and defrost them in the microwave or in the fridge at night.  I also do waffles with peanut butter. For after school snacks or sides in lunches I mix nuts and Cheerios or send apples and cheese.  ….or cuties ( kids seem to love ).


I make chicken noodle soup with tons of noodles. Then for lunches, I heat it up really hot and put it on thermoses meant for hot foods (as opposed to drinks). By the time lunch rolls around, the temperature is just right and my daughter has her favorite meal.


I spread a thin layer of cream cheese (sometimes flavored) on a whole wheat tortilla and add deli meat, cheese and shredded lettuce. I roll it all up and cut it into bite-size “sushi” pieces, facing up so that my son can see all of the colors.


No matter what kind of sandwich I make, I cut them out with cookie-cutters. My daughter’s favorite is a butterfly shape. She’ll eat any sandwich I send as long as it’s in a shape. It’s all about presentation!

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Go-To Recipes, Part 2 By Edan Goode

Finding myself nearing the end of the day with no dinner plans in mind is becoming more the norm than the exception. Although I consider myself a planner (or maybe that’s the image that exists only in my head), I can’t always get my act together enough to plan dinner menus ahead, shop for everything, defrost, etc. so that a fabulous, nutritious meal comes together quickly that the whole family loves. Oh, that’s such a foreign concept to me anymore it makes me laugh (and cry a little) just thinking about it.

So, with your help, readers, I’m trying to put together a repertoire of Go-To meals that can, indeed come together quickly with a minimum of extra shopping, time or stress. Please keep those suggestions coming and I will share them in a future blog. If you are sending a recipe that belongs to someone else, i.e. from a book or website, I’ll need the link so that we can give them proper credit. To send your go-to recipe, email to Edan Goode at Thanks!

For now, I’ve come up with another Go-To recipe involving very few ingredients and only two dishes.  It was a big hit at my house.

Edan Goode’s Half-Way There Chicken Enchiladas – Serves 6 or more

I call these Half-Way There because I took shortcuts by buying a rotisserie chicken plus a couple of canned items (instead of making them from scratch) and a bag of pre-shredded cheese. The whole thing came together in about 15 minutes, plus cooking time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


• Rotisserie chicken

• 2 cans enchilada sauce (green or red)

• 8-12 tortillas (burrito size) – the number varies depending on how large your pan is and how full you fill them.

• 1 can bean of your choice such as kidney, black bean or pinto, drained and rinsed

•  2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided in half

• 1/2 onion, diced and sauteed


1. Take apart the chicken, putting half of it in a zipper freezer bag for another meal. Chop the remaining half into bite-size pieces.

2. Put chicken, the can of beans, one can of enchilada sauce, the onion and half of the cheese in a bowl and mix to get everything coated in the sauce. This is where you can add variations like quinoa, rice or other grains to add bulk.

3. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-1/2 X 11 baking pan with non-stick spray.

4. Lay a tortilla in the pan and place a couple of spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the tortilla and roll, with the seam side down. Repeat with as many tortillas as will fit in your pan snuggly.

5. Pour the remaining can of enchilada sauce over the top of the rolls, coating as thoroughly as possible. Use a spatula to help you spread it out evenly if necessary.

6. If there is any leftover filling, spoon it down the center of the enchiladas, lengthwise.

7. Sprinkle everything with cheese.

8. Spray the non-shiny side of a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and gentle lay that over the top of the dish, sealing the sides.

9. Bake for 20 minutes or longer – until the sauce is slightly bubbly and the cheese is melted.

10. Serve topped with avocado slices and dollops of sour cream or plain yogurt and a cool salad on the side.

Come, E.A.T. with us!

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog



Mix the ingredients in a bowl.

Mix the ingredients in a bowl.

Start filling the enchiladas right there in the pan to avoid another surface to dirty.

Start filling the enchiladas right there in the pan to avoid another surface to dirty.

Sprinkle any leftover filling and cheese over the enchiladas.

Sprinkle any leftover filling and cheese over the enchiladas.

The finished product.

The finished product.


Go-To Meals, Part 1 By Edan Goode

When I’m able to be really organized, I plan a week’s worth of meals on Sunday, shopping for ingredients, defrosting in stages, etc. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m very proud of having my act so together. That scenario doesn’t happen very often.

At best, I scan the fridge, freezer and kitchen cabinets in the morning and come up with a plan for that night. Even then, I still feel pretty good about myself for knowing what I’m going to make that night.

Now, the reality is more like this: no Sunday planning, no time for a quick plan in the morning and suddenly it’s 4:00 and the kids walk in the door asking what’s for dinner. “Um, I haven’t decided yet” is my usual response. I hate that. It takes an already busy, stressful day and tops it off with even more stress. I scramble to come up with something (often the scrambling of eggs ends up being involved, ironically) but it’s haphazard and a tense situation.

What I need to do is come up with a list of Go-To meals (as opposed to To-Go meals!) that I can keep the ingredients on hand for and assemble quickly when need be. In the next few blogs, I’m going to share with you what I’m coming up with in hopes that some of the recipes might help you too. I know I’m not the only one with this problem. I invite you, dear readers, to share your recipes with me as well. I’d love to share them in this blog space so we can help each other out.

Here’s my first recipe, a beef ragu sauce that can be made in the crockpot (which, yes, requires planning from the morning but then it

Beef Stew Ragu doing the hard work for me, in the crock pot. Steamy goodness!

Beef Stew Ragu doing the hard work for me, in the crock pot. Steamy goodness!

comes together quickly at dinnertime) or it can be made using a pressure cooker in about 20 minutes. Please share your recipes in the Leave A Reply area below. Thanks!

Edan’s Go-To Beef Ragu Sauce                           

Note: This can be served over pasta, polenta or mashed potatoes

1 large carrot, diced finely

1 medium onion, chopped finely

Go-To Beef Ragu

Go-To Beef Ragu

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can tomato paste

2 14.5-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 tsp. each thyme, oregano and basil

Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

2 pounds beef stew meat cut into bite-size pieces

Pasta, polenta or mashed potatoes for the sauce

Grated parmesan for serving

In a crockpot:

Combine all ingredients except pasta/polenta/potatoes and parmesan in a slow cooker. Cover and put on low for 6 hours or on high for 4. Check the liquid levels periodically to make sure it isn’t reducing too much. If it is, add ¼ cup water at a time. But no more than that you don’t want to make the sauce too runny.

The sauce is done when the meat and carrots are fork tender. Ladle over whatever base you choose and sprinkle with parmesan.

In a pressure cooker: 

Brown the meat and onion, adding the minced garlic after the meat has started to brown. Add enough water to just cover the meat mixture. Put the lid on and cook over medium high heat until the pressure has clearly started to build up (how and when this happens depends on your pressure cooker). Lower the heat to medium and simmer, with lid on, for 15 minutes. Follow the directions for how to release the steam and open the lid. Drain off most of the liquid.

Put the pressure cooker back on the stove and add the tomato sauce, paste and seasonings. On medium heat, simmer until the sauce is heated through. Meanwhile, prepare your base and prepare as above.

Share your Go-To recipe under the Leave A Reply section below.

Come, E.A.T. with us!

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog



How to reduce waste and stress over family meals

Dinner Reinvented

Yesterday’s dinner becomes tonight’s “reinvented” dinner with the addition of some new ingredients.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to prepare a “real” meal every night. I go for the whole shebang – a proper entrée, lots of vegetables, prepared well and on time.

The end result of all that cooking is that I make too much and we often have leftovers that no one wants.  We end up being like so many Americans, throwing out perfectly good food! Yet to my children,  you’d think “leftovers” meant I’d “left” it outside for a few days to let bugs run “over” it.

Unwilling to continue wasting food, or my efforts, I set about making two nights a week “Dinner Reinvention Night.” Yes, it’s having leftovers, but it sounds better than that and even better than “recycling dinner” which conjures up visions of plastic and cans.

I’m talking about taking bits and pieces of leftover meals and making something completely new with it. It’s working! Here are some examples:

Original meal:  Herb-coated pork chops and cubed, broiled potatoes.
Reinvented meal: Greek Salad – Thinly sliced pork chops plus the potatoes atop lettuce greens, adding feta cheese, Greek olives and a lemon and oil dressing.

Original meal: Baked chicken with roasted carrots, celery and onion.
Reinvented meal: Chicken & Noodles – chop up the chicken and veggies, put it in a pot of chicken broth and, when boiling, add lots of wide egg noodles so that it’s more noodly than soupy.

Original meal: Grilled steak
Reinvented meal: Fajitas – Slice the meat thinly, sauté multiple colors of peppers plus onion. Add things like refried beans, guacamole, chopped tomato and cilantro.

Original meal: Pot roast with roasted root vegetables.
Reinvented meal: Pot pies or Shepherd’s Pie – layer diced meat and veggies (plus additional, frozen veggies) and any gravy you might have made and top with a pastry crust for pot pie or with a layer of mashed potatoes sprinkled with parmesan cheese for Shepherd’s Pie.

This way, I’m really only doing major cooking a few nights and then some “rearranging” of ingredients the other nights.  I’m also using my crockpot or pressure cooker when I can to make even those original meals a little less work.

So far, it’s working. There’s no more waste. The kids see it as an entirely new meal. And I get to feel like I delivered on a good meal for the family with a lot less pressure on myself.

Please share your ideas for making the most out of leftovers by leaving a comment below.

Come, E.A.T. with us!

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog



Why Kids Are Going Hungry At School By Edan Goode

I was watching the news the other night while preparing a wonderful, well-balanced meal for my kids that included three kinds of vegetables. I knew they were going to try to pick out the veggies and sighed to myself about how hard it is to instill healthy eating habits into kids these days – even though fruit and veggies have been part of their diets since they were old enough to eat them smooshed.

A news story came on about kids in a school who were complaining that they are so hungry at school because of the new, healthier school lunches. These lunches now have about half the plate devoted to fresh fruits and vegetables. The famished kids were so angry, they created an elaborate music video to show how they were fainting during gym and the like.  Oddly, the amount of trash in the lunchroom trash cans increased by about 50% right about the same time. Hmmmm.

Yes, turns out that when they examined the trash that was being thrown out by the kids after lunch, it was made up primarily of the healthy stuff. So, it wasn’t that the lunches weren’t substantial enough. It was that the kids were rebelling against the healthy foods. One boy, quoted on camera said, “It’s just too healthy!” Click here to see the clip:


As I served up a healthy veggie-filled dinner to my family, I grew angry as a preparer-of-food and feeder-of-children. And, I grew more concerned for the health of today’s children. What’s going on here?

I know, I know. Kids have always rebelled against healthy foods, probably since  Adam and Eve’s kids whined, “But Mom, I HATE apples!”  Okay, well maybe that’s not such a good example. Still, we have to eat them. In fact, we have to eat lots of healthy things like whole grains and lean protein so that our bodies function as well as they can.

Initially, I felt self-righteous and said to myself, “well, if more parents put healthy foods in front of their children from the very first and limited their exposure to unhealthy foods, then eating healthy would come naturally to them!” But then I caught my self-righteous self and asked, “Who are you kidding? You did that and your kids would still choose a burger and fries over a plate of quinoa and roasted vegetables any day – EVERY DAY.”

I buy plenty of healthy foods and have fruit sitting out on the counter as an easily accessible food choice. But I’ve also given in and bought cheesy crackers and ice cream because they pleaded for it. “Oh, okay, but this won’t be a regular thing,” I say to them. “Right,” they say back, smirking under their breath because they know better. If I won’t buy it, they’ll get it from their friends at school or when visiting someone’s house or with their own money.

And so, my fellow parents, I don’t know what the solution is. Have any of you managed to really, truly instill healthy eating into your kids’ lives so that they actually eat it and, dare I say, enjoy it? If so, how did you do it? How do those of us who really want to help our children have life-long healthy-eating habits make it happen without them throwing that healthy food, and their own health, in the trash? Or, heaven-for-bid, making and posting a video about how hungry they are at home too!

Please share your tips below in the comments section! Let’s help each other help our kids.

Come, E.A.T. with us!

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog



Pizza in a Stick – An easy schoolnight meal By Edan Goode

Pizza comes in various incarnations: the traditional round, square or rectangular, with stuffed crust, with deep crust, etc. It’s all good, am I right?

Recently, out of boredom though, and with a blob of dough staring at me from my cutting board, I decided to amuse myself and my

Grilled Pizza in a Stick. You can bake them in the oven too if you don’t want grill marks.

kids with another variation – pizza sticks. Just to go all crazy about it, I grilled them!

Because I made this up, I’m not going to give you an exact recipe. I’ll leave it up to you to add your own variations in toppings and sauces.

Step 1:
Roll out pizza dough into a big rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut long strips 3-4 inches wide.

Step 2:
Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, spread pizza sauce* on one half of the dough strip being careful to leave borders clear.

* When sauce and fillings are going to be hidden like this, it’s a great time to smuggle pureed spinach in the sauce or finely-diced veggies.

Step 3:
Add your toppings such as sausage or pepperoni (I took a clean kitchen scissors to cut stacks of pepperoni slices into quarters to fit better along the dough).

Add cheese. Again, be sure to keep boarders clear in preparation for the next step.

Step 4:
Fold the plain half of the dough over the filled part. Seal the edges.

Pizza in a stick, in the works. Not so pretty but really tasty!

Step 5:
Brush a little olive oil over the top of the pizza sticks, keeping some extra around for when you cook them.

Step 6:
Bake the pizza sticks on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 7-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Or, you can grill the sticks, as I did to avoid heating up the already-hot house during the summer. If you do this, you get nifty grill marks (see photo). When grilling, turn the sticks over part-way through and brush more olive oil on the other side. Grill 5-8 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Step 7:
Serve them with or without pizza dipping sauce but beware, they are really hot inside.

Not only do these make an easy meal on a busy school night, but since kids love to take cold pizza to school, this is a space-saving way to give them what they want while providing a great conversation topic around the lunchroom table, such as, “Dude, your mom must have been really bored with pizza-making when she came up with those righteous sticks!” – or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Family mealtime a crock? Thank goodness!

A study recently came out from Cornell University questioning the benefits of family meal time. You know, that evening-time standard

upon which so many families, including mine, have based their parental success? That time of day that is supposed to increase family bonding, clue us in on what’s going on in our children’s brains and lives and is supposed to prevent them from getting into all sorts of trouble too terrifying to even think about. To this I say: What a relief!

I can’t tell you how many times I have stressed over making sure the whole family is together, gathered ‘round the table eating something fabulously healthy, engaging in worthwhile discussion and bonding. I have to confess, it hasn’t gone well.

Most nights, that lovely bonding experience collapses into cajoling them to try something new, eat their vegetables, stop tipping back in their chair, quit punching each other, don’t insult your sister, tell me what’s new in your life, etc. We can’t WAIT until dinner’s over! And now that it’s summer, we’re eating outside every night which, I’m sure, my neighbors just love. Maybe that’s why they started closing their windows and doors when they see the kids set the table…

Now before you think we are all heathens, I have to say it’s not like that every night (most nights, but not every night). Some nights, they eat what’s put in front of them. There are rounds of jovial laughter, thoughts are shared, people are happy and smiling and it’s almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. Why weren’t the neighbor’s windows open for those nights?!

Lest I feel like a complete failure as a parent because our family meal times are not all they are supposed to be, the Cornell study says all is not lost. They found that the association between family meals and kid well-being is due to other aspects of the family environment including economics, time spent together and the general closeness of the relationships.

In the June edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell and lead author of the study says “Meals may afford a regular and positive context for parents to connect with children emotionally, to monitor their social and academic activities and to convey values and expectations. This is what we suspect is driving any causal relationship between family dinners and child well-being. But family dinners also appear to be part and parcel of a broader package of practices, routines and rituals that reflect parenting beliefs and priorities, and it’s unclear how well family dinners would work unbundled from the rest of that package.”

This news takes so much pressure off of family meal times. They don’t have to be the be-all and end-all of success as a family anymore which is great because I always had my doubts as to their magical powers. My husband and I have often talked about the unplanned, magical moments that happen when riding in the car with one or more of the kids, or walking with them to school, sitting next to them on the couch watching a movie or even while we’re doing chores. All of the sudden, completely unprompted, they’ll open up and divulge something and a conversation starts. At those times, we know we have to bite our tongues and remain calm and cool even if what they are telling us is worrisome or goes against our very grain. We have to let it unfold and then let the conversation between us flow as calmly as we can so that they will want to do this again and again. That’s where our closeness and, I believe, the reinforcement of our family values are strengthened. And broccoli had nothing to do with it.