I'll be honest: Pretty often, my babysitter's dinner consists of a $20 bill and a stack of take-out
menus. (It's usually the end of the week and my cupboards are bordering on bare—that's why I'm going out
.) But if you think ahead, it's easy to plan a ready-to-heat meal for the sitter. Here are seven ideas and tips. You may have the kind of babysitter who will eat anything, or maybe she brings her own food. But more likely, she (or he) wants something familiar and not too crazy. The leftover fish stew might not look so grand to the uninitiated, but macaroni and cheese
? That makes sense.
I try to stick to classics—things that almost everyone likes, that mimic the take-out she might be ordering otherwise (i.e. pizza, pasta, soup). My plan, if I know I have a sitter coming that week, is to make something for my family the night before that will provide plenty of leftovers.
In a pinch, I buy a frozen pizza (or, for my vegetarian niece, a chana masala from Trader Joe's).
Here are seven foolproof ideas:
• 1. How to Make Calzones (and Freeze them for Later!). Or, make your own frozen pizza.
• 2. Macaroni and Cheese, which is great left over and will feed your family and the sitter for a couple of days.
• 3. Chicken and Tomato No-Boil Pasta Bake. Simple, comforting, and easy to reheat.
• 4. Udon Noodle Soup. Cheaper and better than ordering Asian take-out. If you don't think the sitter wants tofu, try Baked Potato Soup with Bacon, Onion, and Cheddar.
• 5. Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin. We don't know many people who won't eat pork tenderloin. Make it for yourself the night before; serve the leftovers on a bun with a side of potato chips.
• 6. Snacks. I remember one of the best things about babysitting back in the day was raiding the pantry for chips, crackers, and cookies that I didn't have at home. In case the sitter isn't loving what you've prepared, have some chips and salsa, hummus, some popcorn—snacks for grazing.
• 7. Dessert. Offer a nice reward for wrangling your toddler out of the bathtub and into bed. Even if it's just a pint of ice cream or some Oreos.
What do you feed your babysitters? Anything? Do you make special meals or order pizza?
Related: 10 Dinner Recipes that Make Great Lunch Leftovers
(Image: Emma Christensen)