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I'm Bored! Need family meal ideas.

I'm a mom, I live with males ages 44, 14 and 10. They're wonderful, but I am bored out of my skull cooking for them. What do they like? Protein (roast chicken, pork chops, grilled fish), veg (broccoli, green beans, braised greens) and carb (rice, biscuits). That's it. The favorite meal? Teriyaki chicken, white rice and plain green beans. They (the kids) don't like complicated meals or unexpected vegetables. Any ideas, resources are welcome.

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  1. Pork tenderloin marinated overnight and slow roasted/baked in the oven. Serve with white rice and sauteed bok choy (baby if you can find it). This is unbelievably easy and very good. My college roommate used to make it.

    1/2 c soy sauce
    a few squirts of ketchup
    1/4 c. rice vinegar
    a few tbsp sugar
    tbsp ginger minced
    4 cloves garlic minced

    The proportions are estimated from memory, so just change as you like. It's a pretty basic recipe, and I've been told that I like vinegar more than most, so you might reduce that to a few tbsps.

    Oven at 375 for 20 min, then down to 275 until done to your preference. It'll probably take 1 1/2 to 2 hrs to cook. There are ways to do it faster, but I like this better.

      1. One of my males does not eat pasta. Two of them don't eat potatoes.

        1. I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!! The meals that get eaten in my family consist of straight veg, straight carb. and straight protein...BORING. I've literally resigned myself to making easy meals for now that get eaten as most of my more labor intensive dishes that I love do not and half goes in the garbage. That being said, I apologize to any other hounds because I really am one but on sabbatical right now while I am in school and trying to feed 4 growing boys! Tonight was lean pork loin roast done in crock pot with onions, sliced garlic, 1 can of beef broth and 1 bottle of KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce. It was actually great, meat was very tender. Would make great sandwiches but I thought next time I'd use less broth if I was going to use it for that. Served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli!!!

          1. Try this. Kids usually love it.

            MOM’S POT ROAST
            A first place winner at the Alaska Brewing Co. Cookoff

            4 lb boneless beef pot roast sprinkled liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder
            1 envelope Lipton dry onion soup mix
            1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
            1 can beer, any kind
            1/2 cup catsup
            1 pkg carrots

            Place meat in Dutch oven or heavy roasting pan. Mix rest of ingredients together and pour over meat. Cover. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 3 hours. Remove roast from gravy and allow to cool. Great served over mashed potatoes or rice. Serves 6-8. This recipe sounds really weird but it is delicious. Trust me!

            This is also quick and easy...


            1 cup brown rice
            chicken parts as desired
            1 pkg Lipton onion mushroom soup mix
            1 can cream of mushroom soup (not low fat)
            2 1/2 cups water

            Butter a 9 x 13 pan. Put raw rice on bottom and chicken parts on top of the rice. Mix onion soup mix with canned soup and stir in water. Mix well and pour over chicken. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 1 3/4 hours until liquid is absorbed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kaisgraham

              These two recipes bring back some pretty bad memories of childhood.

              1 -My mom used to make something similar to your Pot Roast called "cranberry chicken", which was the onion soup mix, the cranberries but instead of the other ingredients she used a bottle of Milano 1890 salad dressing. Baked at 350 for 60 minutes.
              2 - Your chicken delight hit my table once every other week.

              I swore I would never subject my family to either of these and have been true to that promise for 25 years. Way more healthy versions available, the Lipton has a gazillion Mg of sodium.

              If they eat it tho, go for it.

              1. re: jfood

                I remember with horror something called 'Chicken Chip' that had canned soup, chopped chicken and crushed potato chips on top. My brother and I forced our mother to swear she wouldn't make it again.

            2. I love chicken pot pie! You can use deep dish pie shells. Bake one in pie pan. Make a cream sauce from 1 can chicken broth, roux and 1 cup of cream, S & P. Mix sauce with other ingredients then pour into cooked pie shell and top with uncooked shell, or top w/"plops" of bisquit mix. Bake 350* for about 35 minutes or until bubbly. When done; chicken and biscuits! YUM - If a pie shell won't work, pour "stew" over the biscuits.

              Lettuce or tomatoes? How about chicken sandwiches - keep the teriyaki just put onto a nice roll or hamburger bun with lettuce and tomatoes.

              1. Make sure to keep introducing new veg and dishes along with old for your own sake. I notice you don't say what your like--be sure to make that too as part of the roation--don't leave you our as one of the 4 who needs to be happy some days and let others be happy the other days.

                Sticky Sweet Garlic Chicken (I like it with Chinese noodles, but you can serve it with rice): http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=K...

                Moroccan Chicken - meat lovers seem to love this, great flavors, I use dried prunes instead of fresh plums out of season. It's great served with couscous:

                If you don't bring in new dishes where else will they encounter new stuff? As my kid grew up new dishes that were on the table were eventually tried and some were eventually liked. The kids are still of the age to learn new tastes, their palates are still evolving. I didn't like broccoli until I was 18 or eggplant till I was about 22, so don't give up.

                1. if they like rice how about Risotto?...you can sneek in veggies and new flavors and make it a little different each time...how about a big pot of chili?...turkey chili, beef chili and again, you can sneak in new flavors and veggies...just don't tell them.top with biscuits...I did this with my son who is now a very adventurous eater at 17...he wouldn't touch salad until I discovered Cardini Ceasar salad dressing when he was 9 or 10...now he requests salad...how about chicken stirfry with veggies..try roasting your green beans tossed with a little sesame oil , S & P...if they like Teriyaki they will prob like this....

                  just a few ideas that worked for me...and I agree, cook things that you like too...your family will not starve and may even try it..

                  1. The best one-dish meal ever:
                    Butter a 2 quart casserole. Layer 1 pound (or more) of boneless, skinless fish fillets (salmon is good) or fish chunks at the bottom. Sprinkle fish with 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of oregano. Layer 1/2 cup uncooked rice on top of the fish. Add one 14 oz can of italian style diced tomatoes with juice. Cover and bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dave Westerberg

                      I make something similar to this with boneless chicken breasts instead of fish. It is very good.

                    2. I just made this for my girls and they love it! Cut up boneless skinless chicken breast, saute in olive oil and garlic until cooked through. Add one can of Muir Glen (or other kind) diced tomatoes cook for a bit,when its done add some sour cream and basil. YUM. Serve with rice or pasta and a veggie. My girls love it, and as an added bonus we do too!

                      1. This might sound condescending, but it sometimes works with my "meat & potato" diehards--
                        show them pictures in magazines/cookbooks, have them point at something that looks good to them, make them promise to try it if you cook it. I've made a *few* breakthroughs this way.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BangorDin

                          This sounds similar to what I did to boost my boys along in their cooking skills. I asked for cookbooks for Christmas, anything that had food in it that they thought they would like to eat. One bought me a Thai cookbook (slightly Westernized not impossibly complex recipes) and one bought me a pasta cookbook, and we have had a blast cooking some great dinners. Both cookbooks had lucious photos, which I am sure helped.

                          1. re: Anne H

                            Get them in the kitchen and let them help. What if they had to plan and cook a dinner once or twice a week. The more interested you can get them in food, the more they will want to try. Ooh junior Chowhounds!!!

                        2. My boys are just slightly older, and a little more adventurous, and still I get bored silly producing quick reasonably priced dinners night after night. I would echo what someone said above, tastes do continue to develop and they will eat more and more things, even if the progress seems glacial.

                          Meanwhile, my favorite boredom breaker of the moment is broiling vegetables. Green beans with a bit of olive oil and garlic, broiled 10-12 minutes (I think), stirred once or twice. Add lemon juice and grated peel if desired, also salt and pepper. It used to be hard to get one pound of beans into people, now we eat two, and I think they would eat three if I fixed it. Sometimes I throw in (before broiling) a sliced onion and a sliced sweet red pepper, incredibly delicious and very simple. The other things I do might be too adventurous, beets, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes. Because everything is so visible and in bite sized chunks, I think this is a very kid-accessible way to do veggies.

                          Steak sandwiches-- nice crusty French bread, grilled onion, thin slices of beef fried. Some jus made from bouillon, with a bit of garlic and pepper. Simple and popular, different from the usual.

                          1. Do they like bread (tortillas, ciabetta, etc.) - if so, you can make different types of man-size sandwiches with either roast chicken or meatballs or sliced pork.

                            1. they sound like a pretty good group. how about a roast duck with quartered potatoes, carrots and onions roasted in the pan? simple and tasty. a modest gravy just gilds the lilly.

                              btw, this is wednesday's dinner. a 1999 bonardo just nails it.

                              1. Put any meat 2lbs or so broken up in a roasting pan over rice add ginger, garlic,soysauce,couple spoons of sugar,carrots,green pepper,lemon juice,pepper,a little finlly chopped kim chee or whatever.Use sense when seasoning less is better you can put more soy sauce or something later to balance,bake at 375 use half water to rice,about an hour in average roasting pan,you'll have Chinese for a week.

                                1. I have almost the exact same males to cook for: 46, 13, 8. The boys are picky and total protein/starch eaters. I have discovered 2 things:

                                  Easy crock pot or stove top GROUND BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP: 1 'box' beef broth, 1 lb ground beef, browned; 1 lg. can tomato sauce (not seasoned); 1 small can diced tomatoes and 1 package frozen mixed vegetables; 2 potatoes diced or chopped into chunks, bring to boil and let simmer 1+ hours (the longer, the better) or 4-6 hours on med. in slow cooker. delicious and needs little to no seasoning. Serve with french bread. The other one is:

                                  CABBAGE ROLLS (they think the cooked cabbage tastes like noodles): 1 box Zatarans or Tony Cacheres brand Dirty Rice, 1 lb hamburger, one head of green cabbage and 1-2 cans of tomato sauce (not too Italian-y). 1. While browning hamburger, drop cabbage in boiling water just long enough to soften so you can roll them, 2. follow directions on box of dirty rice 3. fill cabbage leaves with 1/4-1/3 cup dirty rice/meat mixture, roll and place seam side down in 9 x 13 cake pan 4. cover with canned tomato sauce and bake about 30-45 minutes at 350 until hot through. Serve with ceasar salad, which is the only salad my kids will put in their mouths. You will be shocked at how good and easy this is.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: kerilu

                                    Count your blessings that your kids eat green veggies. While I'm also lucky in this, I swear some of the garbage my kid's friends eat turns my stomach. Top Ramen every night for dinner, indeed.

                                    I pretty much insist on daily salads, and you could have them make up their own and call it "John's salad, "Tommy's salad", etc. They can think of unique ingredients and maybe even their own dressings. Have you tried starches like couscous, barley or bulgur instead of rice or potatoes? Even with your usual main dishes, they can really add a nice change.

                                    As I too get bored with it all, here's a few things we do:

                                    -Build your own tacos/burritos. Lay the stuff out and they can fill 'em up as they please. Refried beans and rice and you're set. We do mangoes or pineapple for dessert when we do this

                                    -breakfast for dinner night (this is fun, easy and I add a fruit salad instead of a veggie one)

                                    -Risotto. They can come up with their own ideas for this as well, since you can pretty much put anything in there.

                                    -grilled sandwiches or paninis. Thousands of things can go in there.

                                    -I second the steak sandwich thing above. This is one of my faves when I'm pressed for time. It can be done in about 10 minutes and just about everyone loves it.

                                    -Boboli pizzas. Buy the individual ones and again, it's do your own thing.

                                    -Ham (steaks, roast, whatever) with mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish and then a separate veggie. I just mash them like mashed potatoes, but with cinnamon and/or ginger.

                                    -Hearty soups you can have as an entrée. If you're pressed for time during the week, you can make this on weekends, freeze individually (well, most anyway) and then your week night meals are fast. All you need is salad and bread.

                                    You may also want to ask your husband what HIS mom made and get some recipes from her. Or, ask him if he wants to cook one night a week.

                                    Now, if somebody's got great ideas for kids brown bag lunches, let me know.

                                  2. Jambalaya,
                                    arroz con pollo

                                    1. Sausages are plenty meaty but have a variety of flavors, ingredients, and ethnic styles. Browning them in a pan invites accompanying smothered vegetables. Try various kinds of white and brown rice. If you are near a Trader Joe's, they have brown versions of both jasmine and basmati rice. Although they take the better part of an hour to cook, they are falvorful and have separate grains, whereas regular brown rice can be gummy. Any time you are sauteeing or braising onions, you can sneak in some greed cabbage. Boiled, it can turn into sulfurous glop,but with gentle sauteeing/braising it melds with the onion, tender and sweet, easily mistaken for onion. You are fortunate that although the guys' range of preferred meals is narrow, they aren't demanding fried everything. Try a judicious amount of an atypical seasoning here and there, to see if they like it. Old Bay is good in various dishes, not just seafood. Fresh ginger might be welcome, also a pinch of cinnamon (with pork).

                                      1. Stewed tomatoes with onion, bell pepper over white rice - served with link sausage of choice, skin on chicken or pork chops. This is a light and flavorful tomato-y meal. And it's cheap to make and hardly any prep - well, if using chicken you have to clean it up..

                                        Make the rice of your choice.

                                        Fry off the sausage of your choice, remove from (deep) skillet and set aside.

                                        Thin slice whole med onion and bell pepper. Saute in olive oil until veggies are a bit softened, but not limp. Add large can (38 oz?) of plain diced tomatoes (you'd probably want to double this for yourself and 3 guys). Add salt, pepper and a couple of tbls of Worchestershire.

                                        I add about 1/3 - 1/2 cup white wine, but you can also use a pinch of sugar to neutralize the acidity of the tomato. Simmer for 20-30 min. Just before serving over rice, reheat sausage in the now stewed tomatos.

                                        I like to use a skillet that is NOT non-stick so when browning the meat and sauteing the veggies, you get some caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. It definitely adds to the end flavor. Prior to adding the tomatoes, you can deglaze with the wine or some water, or the juices from the tomato will pull up most of it.

                                        If doing this with thick cut pork chops or chicken thighs, sear the meat, remove from pan and add back in after adding tomato. Cover pan and finish cooking on low heat. Add add'l water if necessary.

                                        1. Did anyone mention stir fry's? Pick up a pack of chop sticks at the dollar store and the 10 year old will have a blast.

                                          Meatloaf with veggies. Leftovers make fantastic sandwiches.

                                          Try stuffing some chicken breasts with spinach, cheese, top with a simple tomato sauce-serve with a salad.

                                          I totally agree with the 'let them help' part- even Daddy can throw chops on the grill while the kids make the biscuits and Mom puts her feet up! Pull out three veggies (one new one) and let them pick which one you'll make, with the intent that you'll use them ALL during the week...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                            Meatloaf. I forgot about that. Kids LOVE meatloaf, there are a million recipes and it's great easy cold on a sandwich the next day or reheat for leftovers. You can get your kids to help chop AND mash the potatoes. You get to sneak a lot of veggies in there, too.

                                          2. How do they feel about Mexican food? I think tacos and quesadillas are always easy meals. I make quesadillas with shredded cooked chicken, cheese, black beans and cilantro, and serve with tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

                                            For meat eaters, I like the pork shoulder recipe I posted on another thread - put a sliced onion in the bottom of a crockpot, put a 5 lb pork shoulder on top, put another sliced onion on top of that, pour a can of ginger ale over, cook on low 12 hours. Take out and shred and cut up some of the onions. Return to the crockpot with 1:1 crockpot juices: bbq sauce and make pulled pork sandwiches. Yum.

                                            We also love the "Super Short Ribs" recipe from Epicurious as well as the "Cashew Chicken Curry" recipe.

                                            Pork tenderloin: wrap the pork tenderloins in 6-8 slices of bacon. Marinate in 1 T. minced onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 T. cider vinegar, 1/4. t. cayenne pepper, 1 t. sugar, 1/2 c. soy sauce. Cook at 300 for 2 h.

                                            I never ate asparagus until age 25 (now my favorite vegetable). Never ate banana peppers until 24 (love them), or red bell peppers until 25 (love them too). Too many other vegetables to count that I didn't learn to love until I was older. My mom wrote me off as a "picky eater" so never tried to get me to eat anything, and I never learned I like the vegetables until I started shopping at farmers markets. Just saying.
                                            It's worth making things that you sometimes have to throw away, because it might stick at some point.