Guest post by Lindsay Livingston, registered dietitian and blogger at the The Lean Green Bean
Have you every wondered what to feed your kids when a babysitter is in charge? As a mom of two young kids, date nights are few and far between around my house. Despite our best efforts, something always seems to get in the way. But one of my goals for this year is to change that! I did a lot of babysitting growing up and I think it’s so important for parents to get out and enjoy some kid-free time! One of my biggest pet peeves, however, is the thought that if you’re going to go out, the only things your kids can eat are pizza and mac and cheese.
Don’t get me wrong- there’s nothing wrong with pizza or mac and cheese...but there are also other options! Even if your babysitter isn’t a gourmet chef, there are plenty of easy meals that they can serve your kids with very little effort on their part. Here are a few of my favorites:
From the Freezer
No matter how challenged a babysitter tells you they are in the kitchen, I promise you they can handle turning on the oven and taking a few things out of the freezer. I love stocking my freezer with a combination of store-bought and homemade foods my kids enjoy. These Freezer Chicken Tenders are one of my favorites because it’s so easy to prep multiple batches at one time and have them on hand for easy dinners. Pair them with their favorite way to eat veggies (in the form of dinosaur shaped broccoli tots) and some fresh fruit and dinner is served! Side note- you can also freeze things like pulled pork or chicken that can easily be thawed in the microwave to make tacos or nachos!
Food Prep Reheat
If you’re a fan of food prep, it’s super easy to have things on hand for the babysitter to reheat! Some of my favorites are pasta dishes and casseroles that reheat well in the microwave. Try this Instant Pot Pasta with Meat Sauce or something like meatloaf, which my kids love when dipped in bbq sauce! Another great option is cooking a batch of burgers mid-week so the babysitter can just heat them up and pop them on a bun. Go for plain beef or turkey burgers or try these Avocado Chicken Burgers (my daughter loves them!) Pair the burgers with mini carrots and ranch and a fruit salad that you can prep ahead of time!
Crockpot meals are a mom’s best friend, so why not a babysitter’s as well? Choose your favorite crockpot recipe and get it started in the morning so it’s ready and waiting for the sitter and all they have to do is dish it out! My kids love these Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs.
Breakfast For Dinner
Every kid loves breakfast for dinner and you can easily make it a nutritious option. If you have time, make a batch of pancakes or waffles ahead of time that can be reheated. Or, you can once again dip into your freezer stash if you happen to have some of my Whole Wheat Yogurt Waffles on hand. They freeze beautifully and you just have to pop them in the toaster! Then just instruct the sitter to set out yogurt, peanut butter etc for topping! If your babysitter is feeling up to it, they can whip up some scrambled eggs to go with them!
Quesadillas or Mini Pizzas
I always encourage mamas to make mealtime fun...so there’s no reason the kiddos can’t have fun in the kitchen with a babysitter as well. Pick a theme - pizza night, Mexican night, etc and leave all the components. Leave instructions to let the kids make their own tacos, quesadillas or tortillas pizzas and let the babysitter pop them in the microwave!
For the ultimate easier dinner, make it drinkable! Spend a few minutes throwing smoothie components in a bag before you leave and stick them in the freezer. All the sitter has to do is dump it in the blender, blend and pour. Be sure to include a protein source like milk or yogurt, some healthy fats like avocado or nut butter and maybe even some veggies like cauliflower or spinach, along with some fruit. Try this Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie if you need a recipe idea!
Paninis + Soup (Canned or homemade)
Soup and sandwich is a classic kid favorite combo. You can make it easy on the babysitter by prepping the sandwiches ahead of time so all they have to do is pop them onto the panini press and heat up the soup in the microwave!
I hope these ideas give you a little inspiration and make you extra excited to make date night a priority!
If you’re looking for other easy meal ideas or are interested in learning how to cook quick, healthy dinners on the fly, be sure to check out my Dinner on the Fly ebook! I'm a huge fan of food prep but I actually cook most of my dinners on the fly with very little planning. In the ebook, I teach you my simple 4-step process for making healthy meals on a whim. I also share simple sauce recipes, seasoning tips, no-recipe meals I love, Instant Pot tips for beginners and more!
You can find more details here (https://www.theleangreenbean.com/dinneronthefly/)
To get Dinner on the Fly for $17.99 ($7 off) or Dinner on the Fly + The Ultimate Guide To Food Prep for $27.99 ($7 off) use the code ‘milkandhoney’!!
Lindsay is a Registered Dietitian and mom of two from Columbus, OH. She specializes in Nutrition Communications and is the author behind the healthy living blog, The Lean Green Bean, where she shares healthy recipes, parenting tips and more. Her goal is to show people that healthy living doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive by providing tips, tricks and practical advice. She also shares a real life look at the ups and downs of raising and watching two young kids full-time while also working from home.