Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Easier than a box of mac 'n' cheese (and healthier, too)

If you're anything like me, you have those nights. You know, the ones where the day has gotten completely away from you and all of a sudden its bedtime and you haven't even made dinner yet. I have those days all the time and usually I reach for mac 'n' cheese, some form of veggie and a fruit. Sometimes I spice it up with hot dogs in the kiddos mac 'n' cheese. It sounds gross, but my hubby introduced them to it and they love it. Other times I make sandwitches with veggies and fruit or with soup if its cold. The only thing is, these all take about 30 minutes to figure out what I have the ingredients for and to make, which is not a fun 30 minutes with 3 screaming kiddos.

I know what you're thinking. There can't be anything easier than mac 'n' cheese that is actually healthier and takes less time to prepare. But there is. Its called Tortellini. It is found in the dried pasta aisle at Walmart. Its a pasta that is filled with cheeses or cheese and spinach and all you have to do is boil it for 11 minutes. While it is boiling, you warm your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like the chunky garden veggie kind that I can only find at Kroger, it has chunks of zucchini and carrot that I love) and when then noodles are done cooking, you drain them and mix with the spaghetti sauce and voila. . . An entire meal in one dish. Best of all, all my picky eaters will eat it happily. And Bertolli makes a brand that is all natural, no HFCS, no junk, just noodles and cheese, dried.

I choose the spinach and cheese tortellini that Bertolli makes because it is just as tasty as the four cheese variety and it has hidden veggies that my kiddos cannot detect and cannot remove. Muahaha. So even if Evie picks out the zucchini chunks in her spaghetti sauce, which she has been known to do, she's still got a green veggie in her dinner and she doesn't even know it. You can also pair this with a salad to add even more veggies or just add some fruit as a "dessert" -- either way, its delicious.

It is not the cheapest food. The totellini alone is $4.50 (or thereabouts) and then you have to add the cost of the spaghetti sauce, but you can't beat it for a quick, healthy dinner and for myself and my 3 girls, one package of tortellini and one jar of spaghetti sauce makes 2 meals -- dinner one night and lunch the next day. So considering that, its not that expensive either. $3-4 per meal for a family of 4, so $1 per meal per person. And its one of those foods that is just as `good when rewarmed. Just make sure you cover your dish while you microwave it as it will splatter otherwise, like any other dish that includes spaghetti sauce.

My husband ships out on Sunday for basic training, so guess what I'll be doing Saturday? Yes, that's right, I'll be grocery shopping. I'll be going to Walmart and Kroger and stocking up on tortellini and spaghetti sauce, among other things.

So give it a try and let me know what you think :)

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