Meal Preparation

 Recipes Cartoon
Asset #8: Youth as Resources

When young people have useful roles they feel good about themselves and their future, do better in school, and get in less trouble. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and appreciated so, let youth contribute their menu ideas and take on some of the preparation tasks!

Find your own recipes at these links, in cookbooks, on the internet, or create something new! We have some recipes below to help you get started!

Combine Meal preparation with Family Activities by:

  • Making an extra portion of a meal as a family. Package it up or make a freezer meal for a neighbor, family member, someone who could use some help. Deliver the meal together (ideally within walking distance) and talk about helping others, volunteerism, random acts of kindness and being grateful for what our family has. After the meal has been delivered, talk about how it made each person feel (givers and receivers).
  • Create a weekly menu as a family on a certain day and talk about who will make what and what each family member’s in making jobs can be on certain nights. There’s a template and information on the Family Activities page.

Meal Recipes

Spicy Yam Bowls

This is a super easy and quick vegan meal!

·         2 Yams

·         2 Avocados

·         1 Cup of Black Beans

·         1 Cup of Salsa

·         Olive Oil

·         Cilantro


1.       Preheat oven to 400

2.       Wash Yams and cut in half. Place orange side down on a baking sheet, (lightly greased with olive oil). Bake for 40 minutes.

3.       When the yams are done, remove from oven and place them face up on a plate. Use a butter knife to score the yams in a tic tac toe pattern.

4.       Top the yams with avocado slices, black beans and salsa, (add more or less of each to suit your preference)

5.       Garnish with cilantro if you wish


6.       Enjoy!

Ravioli with Sauteed Asparagus and Walnuts


1 8oz package of fresh Ravioli
1/2 pound of Asparagus
1 half Lemon
2 TBSP Butter
1/4 cup Walnut pieces
2 TBSP Minced Parsley
6 Twists of Pepper
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese (plus some to serve at the table)


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil
2. While waiting for the water to boil, chop your asparagus (snap off tough white ends and discard). Mince Parsley, squeeze lemon and measure out walnuts and butter
3. In a large sauce pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter over medium heat until frothy. Add chopped asparagus to the pan, stir slightly to coat asparagus with butter and cover with the pan lid. Asparagus should be slightly damp when adding it to the pan. The pan should only be on medium heat so you don't burn the butter or asparagus. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes (depending on thickness of asparagus)
4. While asparagus is cooking, add ravioli to boiling water and cook as per package instructions. Drain when done and add to a bowl
5.When asparagus is done, remove with a slotted spoon. There should be some browned butter left in the bottom of the pan. Add asparagus to bowl of ravioli
6. Add lemon juice and 6 twists of Pepper to the pan with the remaining browned butter and bring to a boil and stir for 30 seconds. Pour the butter lemon sauce over cooked ravioli and asparagus. There will not be a lot of sauce - you want just enough to lightly cover the ravioli.
7. Add walnuts, parley and 2 TBSP of parmesan cheese. Toss gently to combine
8. Serve. Additional parmesan cheese can be added as desired.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Put the pulled port in the slow-cooker in the morning for a delicious, easy meal in the evening!

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1, 3 -to-4-pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 buns
  • Barbecue sauce and prepared coleslaw, for serving
  1. Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the paprika, mustard powder, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet; add the pork and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 5 minutes. Remove the pork and transfer to a plate; whisk 3/4 cup water into the drippings in the skillet. Transfer the liquid to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
  3. Add the vinegar, tomato paste, the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 cups water to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Add the pork, cover and cook on low, 8 hours.
  4. Remove the pork and transfer to a cutting board. Strain the liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Roughly chop the pork and mix in a bowl with 1 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, and salt and vinegar to taste. Serve on buns with barbecue sauce and coleslaw.
Sneaky Spaghetti!

Get lots of veggies into your picky eater! Leftovers for lunches or an extra easy dinner tomorrow!

  • Spaghetti noodles
  • 2-3 Carrots, grated with a cheese grater)
  • 1-2 Zucchini, grated with a cheese grater)
  • 2lbs ground meat (beef or pork is most popular)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 peppers, any colour, chopped
  • ½ clove of garlic, finely diced
  • Sauce
  • Option #1) 2 jars of prepared pasta sauce
  • Option #2) 2 cans crushed tomatoes, 1 heaping tbsp dried basil, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp oregano mixed together
  • Option #3) 4-8 large tomatoes, cut in half and grated (cut side to grater will leave behind the thin layer of skin), add 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, tbsp lemon juice, 1 heaping tbsp dried basil, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp oregano
  • (optional) grated cheese or parmesan to add on top
  1. Brown ground meat in a sauce pan on medium heat and then drain the fat.
  2. Fill large pot 2/3 full of water, add 2 tbsp salt and bring to a boil.
  3. While water is coming to a boil, add onions, peppers and mushrooms, cook until onions are becoming translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, carrots, zucchini and sauce. Once sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until spaghetti noodles are ready.
  4. Place spaghetti noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes until al dante or fully cooked, depending on preference. Ensure pasta is stirred every 2 minutes to avoid noodles sticking to the bottom. Drain cooked spaghetti. Apply and mix with 1 tsp of olive oil if it will not be immediately combined with the pasta sauce.
  5. Pasta can be mixed with sauce ‘to order’ on each plate, or all combined and served in a large bowl. Add grated cheese or parmesan on top of each plate, if desired.
  6. Note: salad, additional veggies, and/or garlic toast make great sides for spaghetti!

Sweet & Sour Pork on Rice

(gluten & dairy free)

Lots to chop and measure – give a few ingredients to each family member to make this meal together!

  • 1 ½ pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 9 tablespoons fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided {Check for Gluten}
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce {Check for Gluten}
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 3 cups hot cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 green onion, cut diagonally into thin slices (optional)
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, 6 tablespoons stock, ketchup, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in a small bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Combine cornstarch and remaining stock in another small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry pork mixture in hot oil 5 minutes or until pork is done. Remove pork from pan; keep warm. Add onion, bell peppers, and water chestnuts to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add ketchup mixture. Bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch mixture, pineapple chunks, and pork mixture with any accumulated juices. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with green onion slices, if desired.
Coriander Roasted Chicken with chickpea and avocado salad

Gluten & dairy free)

Delicious and nutritious! Great for those with food sensitivities.

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (~4lbs total)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 15.5oz (455mL) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 avocado, chipped
  • Shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with turmeric, coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, skin-side down, until the skin is golden brown and crisp – about 6-8 minutes
  3. Turn the chicken skin-side up and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centre of the thickest breast (avoiding the bone) registers 165F – about 22-25minutes
  4. As the chicken is cooking, combine the chickpeas, avocado, shallot, and cucumber slices, mint leaves, the remaining 2 tables spoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl
  5. Serve the salad alongside the chicken

LEFTOVER TIP! Mash any leftover chickpeas and avocado mixture with a fork. Spread it onto a whole-wheat wrap or bread and top with thinly sliced chicken and crispy lettuce. Yum!

Cod with beans, corn and pesto

Gluten and Dairy Free
Ready in 15 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce pieces cod fillet (about 1 inch thick), skin removed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ pound green beans, cut in half crosswise (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 leek (white and light green parts only), sliced into half-moons
  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto, plus more for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the cod with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until the undersides are golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Flip the cod and scatter the green beans and leek around it.
  4. Add ¼ cup water, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just tender and the fish is opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cod to plates.
  5. Stir the corn into the beans, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the pesto. Serve with the cod and additional pesto, if desired.
Taco night!

Build your own tacos.
Cook up 1-2 lbs of lean ground beef with taco seasoning
Everyone is in charge of preparing 1 or 2 bowls to build tacos.
Create bowls of:

  • Lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Grated cheese
  • Cooked taco meat
  • Taco shells/tortillas
Breakfast for dinner

something for everyone to do!

  • Makes pancakes & eggs/French toast
  • Cooks up the Bacon/sausage
  • Cuts up fruit
  • Whips the cream

Pancakes: either use mix or from scratch
Pancake Recipe (~ 8 Servings)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons of melted butter

Snack Recipes

Banana Blender

1 banana
1 TBSP peanut butter
1 cup non-fat milk
5 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together
Pour into cup


Mini Pizza
  • Mini pita pockets
  • Tomato sauce
  • Assorted veggies, meats and toppings sliced thinly
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  1. PREHEAT oven to 425oF
  2. TOAST pita halves for a few minutes ahead of time to crisp.
  3. DIVIDE tomato sauce between pita halves. SPREAD.
  4. ARRANGE toppings to choice.
  5. SPRINKLE cheese over each pizza.
  6. BAKE for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is just starting to brown.
Ice Cream in a Bag

Ice cream ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

You also need:

  • 1/2 cup rock salt
  • Quart size plastic bags
  • Gallon size plastic bags
  • Ice (crushed)
  1. POUR the ice cream ingredients into a quart size plastic bag and seal.
  2. FILL a gallon plastic bag half way with ice. ADD in the rock salt. PLACE the sealed quart size bag in the gallon bag and seal the gallon bag and shake!
  3. SHAKE the bag until you see the ingredients in the quart size bag looking like ice cream.
  4. OPEN the quart size bag, let your kids throw in their favourite toppings and hand them a spoon.
Apple Peanut Butter Smile
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (approx. 65)
  1. CUT apple into slices.
  2. SPREAD a teaspoon or two of peanut butter onto each slice.
  3. PLACE a row of 8 mini marshmallows across on apple slice.
  4. PRESS another apple slice on top and repeat for each slice.
Banana Sushi Rolls
  • 2-3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice crispies
  • 1 ripe banana
  1. PEEL banana and discard the skin.
  2. SPREAD peanut butter on whole banana.
  3. PLACE rice crispies on a small plate and roll banana over cereal until covered, (any remaining crispies can be pressed into the peanut butter).
  4. SLICE into 6-8 pieces.
PB&J Sushi Rolls
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons jam, jelly or preserves
  • 2 slices bread

1. REMOVE crusts from bread. With a rolling pin or large soup can, completely flatten bread.
2. SPREAD 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 tablespoon jam on each slice of bread.
3. Roll each slice into a tight spiral. Cut each spiral into 4 pieces.

Links to Recipes

My Family Mealtime

Health: 20 Easy Family Meals

Easy Family-Favourite Recipes

Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinner recipes

BBC Good Food: Family & Kids

allrecipes: recipes and ingredient search

FamilyCircle: 30-Minute Dinners

The Family Dinner Project: A growing movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter

The Kids Cook Monday – Start your week off right: Make Monday Family night!

KidsHealth: Healthy Eating and your Family – Family Meals

The Real Happy Hour

Food Network: Family & Kids: Cook together.  Eat Together.  Food Network-approved