When it comes to mealtime, most people can agree that finding recipes that are both quick and meet everyone’s taste preferences all while being nutritionally balanced is no easy task. But what if there was a way to create a simple, nutritious meal that took everyone’s preferences into consideration (yes, even the youngest, most selective eater) and gave you back more quality time with your friends and family? With a little prep and a buffet-style set-up, you can make this a reality! Simply follow the tips and tricks outlined below for more time with the ones you love and less time in the kitchen.
5 Buffet Basics
#1 – Choose a general theme and main ingredient (or two).
Think, tacos – baked potatoes – nachos – salads – pasta – yogurt – oatmeal. Place the main ingredient such as pasta, shredded lettuce, or yogurt in the middle and build around it. Try to grab at least one option from each food group (fruit, vegetable, grain, dairy, and protein). These can be cold or hot. For example, deli meat is a great, simple way to add a lean protein to any buffet.
#2 – Prepare ingredients once and use for more than one buffet-night.
Try to think of meals that include several of the same ingredients so that you only need to prepare once. For example: tacos and loaded baked potatoes can both use shredded cheese, grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and shredded lettuce.
#3 – Make it easy and use what’s already available!
This is a great way to use leftovers – think of last night’s brisket or pulled pork on nachos or leftover vegetables tossed into pasta – Yummy!
#4 – Try to include favorites so that each person can find something they enjoy.
If this is difficult, opt for either a bowl of fruit or salad to include at every meal so that there is always a second option. This also helps parents to avoid the “short-order-cook” pitfall that we all too often fall prey to when we make special accommodations.
#5 – Allow everyone to serve themselves (if age appropriate).
The key is to allow everyone to take turns, starting with adults so that the younger ones can have an example to follow. This is also a great chance for children to watch others try new foods which may encourage them to try new foods themselves. After all, monkey – see – monkey – do! Also, it is important to encourage everyone to take only one serving at a time and let them know that there is more once everyone has had a chance to eat. With small children, consider a divided plate to guide them.
Lastly, make a game of it and see who can get the most colors on their plate to maximize flavor and nutrition while having a little fun. For more fun and delicious recipes, visit our Recipe Page for more ideas.