My kids absolutely love take-away for dinner and I love it too (for very different reasons).
My children love that they get to eat “sometimes” foods and that dinner becomes more casual and fun. I of course, am just really happy to have the night off cooking!
However due to the high calorie count of most take-away, plus the larger serving sizes, oh and let’s not forget the $100 to feed a family of five, it is only ever going to be a special treat in our house.
What I have found however, is that there is a type of meal that also promotes casual dining (think zero cutlery), is a lot healthier, fits within the budget and my kids love it, perhaps even more than take-away! To be fair, it doesn’t 100% give me the night off, but it does limit my food preparation time and I do find that there is a lot less “finish this” “eat that” “one more” discussions at the table, which is refreshing in itself.
Those meals I call CREATE YOUR OWN or C.Y.O!
So what is C.Y.O?
CREATE YOUR OWN is a group of family favourite meals that work best when they are self-served, meaning that the entire family can build and create their own meal from the ingredients available on the table.
To add to the fun, they are also all “hands only” meals, so that not only does everyone get to choose what they want (and how much) to create their own Michelin Star meal, but there is also zero pressure for table manners.
What is the benefit of C.Y.O for me?
Apart from the fact the meals are a lot healthier and of course cheaper than take-away, there is also less preparation required versus the average family dinner. As you are only serving up the components of the meal, it then removes the combining or building step of making dinner as well as plating up.
I also find that there is a lot less waste as the kids take only what they want to eat, and since they created the meal themselves, there is a certain amount of pride in the consumption.
The final benefit I have found is that it allows children to experiment with new foods. Not only do they get to taste new foods but they can also touch them too. This can really help fussy eaters to venture out beyond their list of staples. Because of this, I try to put new items on the table each time we eat C.Y.O.
What exactly are C.Y.O Meals?
Listed below are the C.Y.O meals that are on regular rotation in our house:
- Create your own Pizza – use up your left overs with this dish!
- Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls
- Sushi – and yes those Sush-ezi gadgets do work!
- San Choy Bow
- Nacho’s topped with black beans and salad ingredients of your choice
- Kebab’s – using roasted chicken, tandoori or any leftovers, choice of salad on Lebanese bread
- Hamburgers/Chicken Burgers and Steak Sandwiches - add lot's of different salad ingredients - Yummo!
These meals are so much fun and can be as healthy or fake-away (more on the treat side), as you like.
Try adding a C.Y.O meal to your weekly meal plan and enjoy a casual family dinner (while being kind to yourself too!).