22 Ideas for Feeding Hungry Teens on a Budget (guest post)

A guest post by Elizabeth at Frazzled Mom

On a regular basis I walk into the kitchen and see one of my teen boys either looking into the pantry or the fridge for something to eat.

It is a challenge sometimes to keep enough good food in the house and keeping within a budget makes it tough.

You are tempted to just pick up a case of ramen noodles or cheese and cracker thingys, but really they need good fuel to grow and keep them satisfied.

I also want something that is easy for them to fix themselves. Here are few tried and true recipes/foods we have used through the years.

Quesadillas - Keep a pack of flour tortillas on hand. Keep any deboned leftover chicken or fajita meat in a small baggie in the freezer. When we grate cheese, we keep a little extra in the fridge. They can quickly throw some cheese on a tortilla and heat in the microwave. Sometimes I will make a big batch of Quesadillas that includes some of that leftover meat and pop in the oven until it is golden. (In order, that is parchment paper on a cookie sheet, tortilla, throw on cheese, throw on bits of leftover meat, tortilla. Put in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes) Cut up with a pizza cutter. Put extras in the fridge. Leftovers heat up nicely in the microwave.

Soup - soups go a loooong way. Adding rice or pasta to them stretches them even farther and fills you up. You can also freeze single portions and heating them up on the stove is super easy for teens. Chicken corn soup is one of our favorites. It uses one chicken and can be stretched for several meals. Make a pot of rice to stretch farther. I do not recommend freezing rice in the single portions. Rockin Cheesy Bacon Corn Chowder is another good one. It only contains bacon so it is super cheap, but it is a thick and hearty soup and fills you up.

Baked potatoes - What is easier than that?! Cooking potatoes in the microwave is quick. Grate some cheese, fry up some bacon, cut up some chives from the garden, plop on some sour cream. We even add chili sometimes. Done!

Chili - canned or your own chili recipe frozen into individual portions.

Paninis - I make ahead several loaves of Rosemary Focaccia Bread and keep them in the freezer. I slice them, throw on some sandwich meat, sliced turkey or leftover chicken and whatever cheese is on hand. Brush lightly with olive oil and pop on my George Foreman grill. Tada! Sandwiches in disguise! Make some cheap cream of tomato soup too! I sprinkle some fresh basil from the garden in this recipe for a divine Cream of Tomato Basil Soup!

Pizza - We make two pizzas when we make homemade pizza. We freeze the extra pieces for a quick snack.

Frozen Peas - have you ever had a handful of frozen peas? Cools you off and it is a great alternative to a sugary Popsicle.

Cinnamon Toast - one of my favorites when I was a teenager and we were in the middle of bankruptcy. Simply toast some bread, smear with butter and sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon. We made our own cinnamon and sugar mixture with an empty spice container.

Rice Dressing - This recipe makes a huge amount of food. Make a pot and keep in the fridge. Your teens can help themselves and heat it up in the microwave.

Jambalaya - This recipe also makes a huge amount of food. Make a pot and keep in the fridge. Your teens can help themselves and heat it up in the microwave.. Bonus – this recipe uses leftover meats you already have on hand.

Smoothies - No cooking required! We keep lots of frozen fruit on hand. Bananas that are going bad get peeled, put in a baggie and put in the freezer. Throw whatever combination you like with yogurt, a splash of milk or o.j., vanilla, honey and blend.

Magic Milkshakes - One of our favorite summertime recipes. Bonus – it uses powdered milk! Please follow the recipe as written. Don’t skip the vegetable oil or squirts of non-stick spray! It seems strange, but it all adds up to create the perfect taste and texture.

Fruit - apples are especially filling and easy to grab. Cut up fruit, like cantaloupes or pineapple kept in a Tupperware container, makes a quick snack. Grapes go too quickly at my house!

Popcorn - People come from all corners of the house when they smell that yummy smell! I’ve found that our grocery store (Kroger) carries a microwave store brand that is as good as anything else and sometimes I can get it for $1. We always get the butter free (salt only) and add our own butter. Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Salted is divine!

Homemade Potato Chips - I got a cool chip maker from Pampered Chef. Get the Simple Slicer too. It’s a quick way to make a great snack and side dish for your sandwich! Sprinkle with a Spicy Cajun seasoning for a kick! I do the slicing because the thought of a boy with a sharp slicer doesn’t appeal to me.

Nachos made with Tortilla Chips and leftover Taco Meat, Grated Cheese and Canned Refried Beans. Top with Sour Cream and Chives. When I made tacos, I put any leftover bits into a small tupperware in the freezer. When I get a nice amount, it is Nacho time!

Homemade Pretzels - I made a huge batch and freeze. They can be popped in the microwave and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or salt. You can also dip in melted cheese!

Tortilla Chips with Salsa

Graham Crackers with Peanut Butter

Pretzels

Cheese and saltines - can it get any easier? I try to keep a nice supply of different cheeses and a box of cheap saltine crackers. Help yourself hungry boy!

Peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches. Adding the banana to the sandwich makes it fun, nutritious and delicious!

Elizabeth, aka Frazzled Mom, is a work-at-home, homeschooling mom of two teen boys.  She blogs about cooking, gardening and entertaining at Frazzled Mom and Friends, and about homeschooling at Adventures in Homeschooling
Shannon’s Note: Elizabeth is a dear friend IRL, and I can personally guarantee that all of her recipes are not only teen approved by her boys, but by J as well. :)  Kgirl is addicted to her Rosemary focaccia bread  and  I personally think her chicken corn soup is to die for!

If you have recipes or tips for feeding hungry teens on a budget, please share your ideas either in a comment or a guest post. We’d love to hear from you! …Shannon

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