'Build your own dinners' that the whole family will eat

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cooking kidsAre you one of the thousands of moms who makes more than one dinner every night? Child A won’t eat this, Child B won’t eat that, so you’re always pulling together a little of this and a little of that in an effort to make everyone, except yourself, happy.

If you’re tired of making different dinners for the same meal, take a lesson from my sister-in-law, Laura, who is famous (in our family at least) for the make-your-own burrito bar. Keeping all of the bits and pieces separate gives everyone the ability to decide what to put in the meal. You’re still in control of the menu items that make the cut, but the little guys have the freedom to make their own choices.

Burritos are the obvious choice, because it seems as if everyone loves Mexican food these days, but don’t feel locked into south-of-the-border cuisine. You can branch out across the country or across the world! Whip up the components, place each item in a different bowl, then set them out for your kids to take spoonfuls of whatever appeals at that time to make their own customized dinner. Give one of these fun combos a try:

Burrito Bar – Whip up some taco meat or shredded chicken (rotisserie works great if you’re in a time crunch), lettuce, cilantro-lime rice (recipe follows), black or pinto beans, chopped avocado, salsa, cheese, corn and sour cream.

Fried Rice Bar – Prepare some easy fried rice by cooking leftover rice in a hot pan with a bit of vegetable oil and soy sauce, then set it out with awesome add-ins including cooked carrots, peas, scallions, pineapple, barbecue chicken or scrambled egg.

Baked Potato Bar – Bake russet or sweet potatoes (washed and pierced with a fork, then baked at 400 degrees for 1 hour), then set out chili or taco meat, cheese, scallions, sour cream, shredded chicken, broccoli and bacon bits.

Omelet or Scrambled Egg Bar – This one takes a little more effort, and is definitely cook to order, but you can have fillings at the ready for the kids to choose from, including ham, cheese, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, avocado, diced tomatoes and even artichoke hearts for mom and dad.

Grilled Cheese Bar – Make (or crack open a can of ) tomato soup and have custom grilled cheese sandwiches to accompany your soup. Have two or three different cheeses, including American, cheddar and brie; tomato; bacon; and spinach — or even thinly sliced apple or pear.

by Christine Van Bloem

Click next below for a recipe for Cilantro-Lime Rice

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