If you are a new stay at home dad (SAHD), one of your roles will be to provide healthy and nutritious meals for your family. For dads that like to cook, making the transition from occasional home cook to full-time cook may not be to daunting a task, but the newly minted stay-at-home dad who is now in charge of meal preparation, this can turbulent new water. You now must learn how to cook, what to cook with so you don’t blow up the kitchen let alone the house, and cook dishes those finicky little eaters will like.
Having been a SAHD for nearly five years now, I have learned my way around the kitchen. In that time I learned quite a bit about different types of kitchen cookware and have also learned how to prepare a good variety of healthy and nutritious meals that my family likes. That experience eventually lead to the creating of this blog developed for stay at home dads to educate them on different types of kitchen cookware, best kitchen appliances and how to cook.
What to cook?
If you don’t know how to cook, your first inclination may be to open a box of lasagna or chicken nuggets and pop them in the oven or microwave. That will work in the beginning, but eventually you will have to learn to read and follow a recipe. While frozen or packaged food are convenient and easy to make, they are not as nutritious and healthy for you or your family as preparing a meal with fresh and healthy ingredients. This is due to packaged foods, even those labeled as healthy, low fat, low calorie or organic, are generally still high in sodium, sugar,fats, processed ingredients, and partially hydrogenated oils. Over time this eventually leads to poor eating habits, weight gain, high blood pressure and obesity and type 2 diabetes, even in children.
If you can learn to make even simple recipes using fresh and natural ingredients, over the long run you will save hundreds or thousands of dollars on your food bill, and the food will be healthier. You can even have your kids help in meal preparation with age-appropriate duties.
If you are new to preparing the meals for your family, but you are intimidated by the idea of reading a recipe, start with a simple recipe with a few ingredients and steps that is easy to make. This will build your confidence in the kitchen, and is a great foundation to build on so that you can eventually make medium to hard level recipes with several ingredients and multiple preparation and cooking steps.
Make a Dinner Menu
Make a weekly dinner menu of dishes you would like to make and your family likes. Don’t be too adventurous in the beginning. Search the internet for easy recipes, such as easy chicken recipes or easy pasta dishes. You will find literally hundreds of recipes that contain a few ingredients and relatively few steps that even a novice home cook can master with a little practice.
If you serve dinner at 5 o’clock, in the beginning start cooking around 3pm to 3:30pm, until you get confident in the kitchen and can prepare a meal in one hour or so.
You are Not a Restaurant
Don’t make three dishes because one kid likes chicken and the others want hamburgers. What you are making that night is what the family is eating, unless the meal gets ruined, or you have a child with food allergies. Eventually your kids will stop testing you and their finicky eating will subside once they know you mean business and what is on the table is all that there is for dinner.
Easy Dinner Recipes
If you can boil water, you can make a delicious spaghetti dinner with little effort. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt to the water, and once it begins to boil, put the pasta in the pot. If you don’t have a large pot, just break the dry pasta in half then drop it in the boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, open a jar of pasta sauce and heat it until it begins to boil, then turn it off. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot. I like to add a little olive oil at this step to keep the pasta from sticking and turning into an inedible glob.
Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus, and Walnuts
In this delicious pasta recipe from fmed chef Giada De Laurentiis is easy to make and one that my kids absolutely love.
Here are a few modifications you can make that won’t effect the dish.
- If you don’t have farfalle noodles, and type of round noodle, such as rigatoni, will work fine. You want a noodle with texture so the sauce will stick better. I leave out the walnuts, and no one in my family misses them.
- A crimini mushroom is just a baby portabello mushroom, so if you can’t find criminis, just buy portabellos and cut them into small pieces or strips.
Other great food websites with easy recipes:
I frequently use Allrecipes.com, which has hundreds of easy recipes that any stay at hone dad or home cook can make, that includes videos.
I also like Foodtv, but I find many of the recipes are in the moderate to difficult range.
I found it frustrating that many of the cook books on the market today are written by women and for women. I found this great and inexpensive stay at home dad cook book series on Amazon.com that is written by a man for stay at home dads that do all the cooking for their families.