5 Ways To Up The Ante On Your Pasta Meals

To make meal planning easier, I have designated Tuesdays as pasta night. It just made life easier when when we had extra curricular activities when the kids were little. Now a few years later, it has sort of stuck and I don’t mind because pasta night is usually an easy meal that everyone likes. Some weeks though pasta tends to make an appearance a few times not just for dinner but for lunch too.

So, what do you think about pasta? How often does your family eat pasta? Pasta isn’t inherently bad food but like anything we should eat in moderation. What does this mean in terms of how many times to eat pasta on a weekly basis, maybe once or twice or even three times if it works for you. Though pasta lunches sent to school do tend to get eaten more often than the other school lunches.

Now if you tell me your kids eat the boxed macaroni and cheese a few times a week I’d say perhaps that’s too much. Once in a while is okay but you don’t want your kids eating too much processed foods.

I have to admit, the boxed stuff does make it in to my shopping cart every now and then. Thankfully though, my girls like to cook and pasta is one of those meals they can easily prepare on their own. When they were younger and I’d have enough of them eating the boxed stuff, I taught them how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch; melt some butter in a pan, add flour, mix and then add milk. Stir until it gets thick and then throw in the cheese. Nothing too complicated and no measurements either. We just sort of wing and sometimes the sauce doesn’t quite get thick enough but hey it’s mac and cheese and once you mix it all together it doesn’t really matter.

These days, now that my kids are a bit older, they have started asking for more fancy cheese to put in their macaroni so cheese like gruyere or havarti and then they bake the macaroni and cheese topped with breadcrumbs. Pretty serious mac and cheese stuff happening in our house!

Now, in all seriousness, pasta can actually be a good way to get your kids to try foods they wouldn’t normally eat.  Here are a few things we have added to our pasta night meals that got the thumbs up:

1. Beans

Beans are a great way to up the protein content of a pasta meal. I tend to use white kidney or romano beans but if your kids like a different bean then you can use that too.

2. Olives

Olives add some good fats to a meal and they make it a bit salty without using salt.

3. Pesto

Pesto is a great way to add some greens to your child’s diet.  Here is our recipe. If you have any parsley, mint or other greens in the house you can throw them in.

4. Legume-based pastas

If you are looking to really change things up try using a different pasta. I tried out a few of them and wrote about them in this blog.

5. Pumpkin seeds

Yes, pumpkin seeds. Believe it or not my daughter actually requested pumpkin seeds on her pesto pasta. They give a nice crunch as well as some added protein and some minerals.

So, there you have it. Our secret to healthy pasta meals. What’s your family’s favourite way to eat pasta? I’d love to know.

For more tips and tricks on feeding your vegetarian child, grab a copy of Vegetarian Teen Basics For Busy Parents here!