9 Ideas for Hearty, Frugal Fare to Warm Up Chilly Children

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

After a long day of school or a long afternoon playing outdoors, children can come in from the cold feeling simply ravenous. Anyone who’s tried to fill up extremely hungry children with granola bars or a few crackers knows that cold, famished children need something substantial that will satisfy their hunger for more than a few minutes. Fortunately for your grocery bill, substantial doesn’t mean costly. It’s actually more affordable to provide hearty foods instead of endless portions of snacks and “kid food” that is notoriously light in the “satisfaction” department.

I’ve compiled a list of ideas from parents and from my own experiences as a former child care provider for frugal foods that have the staying power to nourish and warm up hungry children. You’ll see that there’s an endless number of variations on a theme – your only limits are your imagination and the children’s preferences. Many of these ideas will help children broaden their food repertoire which will help them to adopt even more wholesome ways to satisfy their appetite.

9 Ideas for Hearty, Frugal Fare to Warm Up Chilly Children

  1. Nachos – Microwave or bake tortilla chips sprinkled with shredded cheese, black olives, jalapenos… Try something unconventional by topping the chips with cheese, apple chunks and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
  2. Individual pizzas – Get creative with what you use for the crust. Try crackers, English muffins, pita bread, bagels, French bread…
  3. Oatmeal – Make plain and offer flavorful yet substantial stir-ins, like nuts and fruit (fresh or dried) with maple syrup or brown sugar.
  4. Soup – Many favorite dishes children enjoy can be made as a soup, like meatball soup, macaroni and cheese soup, loaded potato soup, sloppy Joe soup… The familiar flavors in the soup make them instantly familiar to children’s palates and can be enjoyed with one-bowl convenience.
  5. Grilled sandwiches – Think beyond just cheese (although you can’t go wrong with the classics). Try exciting combinations like peanut butter or cheese with apple or pear slices. Whip pumpkin puree with peanut butter and spread on a sandwich to grill. Ham, turkey or beef with cheese is always a tasty grilled combination, too.
  6. Burritos – All you need are tortillas and imagination. Why not wrap up and reheat leftovers from last night’s dinner? Make fruit “pastries” by filling a tortilla with sliced apples or pears, cinnamon, a pat of butter and brown sugar. Another tasty fruit pastry combination is mixed berries that have been coated with some sugar and sprinkled with a dash of lemon juice. Roll up securely and microwave or bake until the fruit is tender.
  7. Noodles – Pasta is a favorite of many children because it’s perfectly satisfying and easy to eat. Serve it in soup, tossed with butter, with nuts, tomato sauce, cheese sauce or Parmesan.
  8. Burgers or sliders – These, like soup, are a food where you can incorporate your child’s existing preferences. Pizza burgers will appeal to your pizza-loving child. A barbecue chicken slider may become a favorite of your chicken nugget lover. How about a Mexican-seasoned burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and guacamole for your taco fan?
  9. Baked, stuffed apples – Core an apple and cut a ¼” slice from the top. Stuff the inside with wonderful things like oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit,, cinnamon and brown sugar, honey or maple syrup; or maybe just some cheese. Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes or microwave on low for 5 minutes.

As you can see, the sky’s the limit when it comes to dreaming up tasty ways to feed cold, hungry children. Imagination is the key to filling them up successfully and frugally.

How do you warm up cold, hungry children?

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