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Family Approved

What's a Family Approved Recipe? Recipes that have been tested and approved by families just like yours: working Moms and Dads who do double duty bringing home the bacon and also being full-time parents. (See our family tester bios below.)

What Earns a Recipe the Family Approval? Our testers were asked to focus on the ease or difficulty of preparation, how much the whole family liked the dish (with unanimous approval), whether the kids were able to help in making it, and whether or not it would become a "go-to" dish for the family.

That is, finally, what these are: The testers' results on recipes that were such a hit that they would make them family staples. And that's what makes them "Family Approved." Try them out on your own family. There's a good chance you'll get the same results!
The Delprado Family

The DelPrados

Name: The DelPrados

Where They Live: Connecticut

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Julie and Juan; Kids: Diego (age 6), Joaquin (age 4), Lorenzo (age 2)

Their Eating Style: Both Mom and Dad work, and work together on meals. Before kids, Juan was the cook in the family, though now Julie is fast catching up. Since having kids, they've become more health-conscious. They buy their fruits and vegetables in season, and go berry-picking for blueberries and raspberries and then freeze the extra so they have them through winter; they make trips to the nearby orchards to buy apples and pears in season. According to Julie "We buy organic meats, milks, and yogurt, along with organic fruits and veggies whenever financially feasible. We eat vegetarian for about 2/3 of our meals. Our biggest claim to fame is that we make our own peanut butter. All of that said, we still feel that we have a long way to go -- we don't utilize our farmer's markets the way we should, and we often buy pre-packaged snacks for school lunches. Despite our efforts, our kids are pretty picky eaters and beg for the foods their friends are allowed to eat."

Their Cooking Style: According to Julie, "I am a total procrastinator. I usually don't plan what we're having for dinner until about 4pm, and we eat close to 5, so that leaves me an hour to assemble or procure ingredients… Because I tend to procrastinate, I like meals that are quick, easy, and healthy."
The Anderson Family

The Andersons

Name: The Andersons

Where They Live: North Dakota

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Michele and Steve; Kids: Shane (age 10), Jack (age 8), Natalie (age 6)

Their Eating Style: Mom and Dad like to put the focus on healthy, balanced meals, and are great supporters of local food growers in Fargo. Michele also takes advantage of the local WalMart for more far-flung ingredients, and can put together some mean Mexican cuisine from her shopping trips there. Their kids like what kids everywhere like: According to Michele, they "love pasta, so most any pasta dishes they will eat any day of the week. I would also put pizza into that category -- homemade, delivered, frozen -- they like it all!" The kids also get ambitious in the kitchen when it comes to sweets. "Our favorite food related things are probably desserts. The kids love to make (and eat!!) brownies, cookies, cupcakes, banana bread, s'mores. And since I focus more on meals, they produce many of our desserts," says Michele.

Their Cooking Style: They like to eat healthy meals that don't taste "overly healthy." As Michele describes, "We look to eat protein, fiber, and calcium at each meal. And we all attempt to get in 6 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. To that end, we found a farmer who uses a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model for selling his products and we have loved that. I don't have a good plan yet for winter, but we'll see what I can discover. We also like eating all sorts of foods from around the world."
The Cobb Family

The Cobbs

Name: The Cobbs

Where They Live: Arizona

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Katie and Jerry; Kids: Charlie (age 8), Caroline (age 6), Jeannie (age 4)

Their Eating Style: According to Katie, "We have a range of eating habits in our family. Jeannie is passionate about tomatoes; Caroline can't stand them. Charlie gobbles down salad; the girls won't touch it. The trio does rally around a few standards, though: mac and cheese, pizza, spaghetti, broccoli, hamburgers."

Their Cooking Style: "Our cooking style tends to be quick and easy since we are a generally busy family. But we are learning to enjoy the group activity of cooking a Disney recipe and understanding what goes in to a tasty dish," says Katie. They've also come up with a fun family tradition: "Our favorite eating activity is 'Dad's Restaurant,' where we light candles, use cloth napkins and get served by Dad the Waiter."
The Empasis Family

The Empasises

Name: The Empasises

Where They Live: Oregon

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Kate and Mark; Kids: Dylan (age 8), Ella (age 5), Nicholas (age 3)

Their Eating Style: They're a very busy family with Mark working two jobs, one corporately and one online after his day job, and Kate working as a Realtor and also as MOM! According to Kate, "Our kids are so close in age and so young that we have a lot of fun, but there's also lots of chaos. I love to cook and feed the family. Coming to dinner at the dinner table is a priority for us. I think it really bonds us together as a family. Right now, with the kids being so young, dinner isn't always enjoyable, but we do our best."

Their Cooking Style: "Our 3 yr. old Nicholas has a short attention span and tends to be very picky. We try to include many options on his plate so that he's familiar with a variety of foods," says Kate. "While he may not enjoy such foods as broccoli and bell peppers, our hope is that he'll mature into a nutritional eater like his older brother Dylan -- and older sister Ella is on her way too!"
The Hesketh Family

The Heskeths

Name: The Heskeths

Where They Live: Texas

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Kay and Shawn; Kids: Kate (age 7), Ethan (age 5), Karis (age 4)

Their Eating Style: The Hesketh family's food habits would definitely be considered "quick and easy." Says Kay: "Although we have many friends who consider themselves 'foodies,' my husband and I are slightly more utilitarian. While we enjoy good food, it's not the first priority when deciding what to eat for dinner. Of late, we've been more interested in the nutritional value of what we're eating and that it's heart-healthy, especially for the adults."

According to Kay, "Our favorite food related activity is picnics. While Houston weather doesn't afford us many months that we can do them on our back porch, we do still enjoy eating outdoors. And when we can't stand the heat (or the mosquitos), we have 'carpet picnics' where we eat our dinner sitting on the floor around the coffee table while watching a movie or favorite tv program. The kids get super excited when they see me pull out the table cloth and head to the living room!"

Their Cooking Style: "My kids' tastes are all over the map," explains Kay. "My oldest, Kate, is quite close to being a vegetarian. She loves salads, fruits, and veggies, and rarely tolerates red meat. My son, Ethan, is a strict PB&J guy. He would definitely eat peanut butter at every meal -- he gets that from his GrandDad. My youngest, Karis, is most definitely in the Mac-and-Cheese phase. That said, I would still classify our family as the typical 'family with young children' who have to deal with limited palates that only enjoy chicken nuggets, Mac-and-Cheese, hot dogs, pizza, and pasta. So, this program has been a great one for us to start as we're able to introduce new foods to the table and 'blame' it on Mommy's recipe testing." Kay tells the kids: "We have to taste everything that Mommy cooks so that we can tell Mickey Mouse what we think of it."
The Stephens Family

The Stephens

Name: The Stephens

Where They Live: Texas

Who They Are: Mom: Candy; Kids: Bethany (age 12), Jacob (age 9), Heather (age 8)

Their Eating Style: The Stephens are a single parent family in Katy, Tx., headed by Mom, Candy. According to Candy: "I love to cook and try new recipes, but with church 2 days per week, French Horn lessons and rehearsals, Girl Scouts, ballet, jazz and football, time is prohibitive! We need meals that prep and cook quickly or can be dumped into the slow cooker in the morning. I do tend to plan a menu for the week and grocery shop based on that."

Their Cooking Style: "We love to have 'assemble it yourself' meals such as lettuce wraps, tacos, and homemade pizza," says Candy. "This way, mom isn't enduring chicken nuggets or corndogs, yet we can customize to our own preferences." Bethany, says Candy, "has ever-changing preferences. Surprised me recently with requests for Vietnamese vermicelli bowl and lettuce wraps last week, yet decided all of a sudden that she won't eat edamame or chicken spaghetti. Would prefer to have shrimp at least once per week." Her son, Jacob, "has Asperger's. Would eat spaghetti every day of his life, given the opportunity! Tacos are a close second. This boy can EAT. Is particular (likes cheese only when melted), yet has some favorites that many children will not touch (would eat an entire cucumber or head of broccoli or cauliflower or bag of spinach if they are raw, but won't take a single bite if it's cooked). Extras like onions, mushrooms and olives must be sparse and minced to avoid detection and rejection." Candy's youngest, Heather, "is willing to try most foods and tries to like them. Chicken is a favorite, as is just about any kind of fruit. Loves to help in the kitchen while wearing her apron and chef's hat from her play set. Seldom eats her entire meal."
The Pillsbury Family

The Pillsburys

Name: The Pillsburys

Where They Live: California

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Jackie and Peter; Kids: Francis (age 9), Elias (age 7)

Their Eating Style: They have many favorite food-related activities, according to Jackie: "Making dessert; cookies, cake, ice cream sundaes, you name it! Or going to the farmers market on Saturday mornings to taste test all the juicy fruit."

Their Cooking Style: Their food preferences, says Jackie, are "farm fresh as much as possible, with a little quick & easy mixed in. Foods that kids would eat anytime: pizza, pasta, hot dogs, cookies!, mac n cheese, rice, chicken curry... to name a few."
The Read Family

The Reads

Name: The Read-Anthonys

Where They Live: Illinois

Who They Are: Mom and Dad: Carolyn and Rob; Kids: Tarek (age 5), Isabelle (age 3)

Their Eating Style: According to Carolyn: "We don't have one cooking style -- it's kind of all over the place and I try desperately to keep it mixed up a bit or else eating becomes so boring. We definitely lean towards the sterotypical 'healthy' meals -- low fat, we eat a lot of fruit and veggies and I try to have at least 2 vegetarian meals a week (tofu, pasta, rice and beans). I love quick and easy healthy meals and feel like I found a lot of those in the Disney recipes. I enjoy cooking from recipes, but my favorite is cooking off the top of my head and being a bit creative and then having a great success; that is very rewarding." As for 'kid food,' adds Carolyn, "[Tarek and Isabelle] love eating yogurt, peanut butter and green apples and cheese for snacks."

Their "favorite food-related" activity "has to be going out for ice cream!" Says Carolyn. "We often bike to this amazing gelatto place and the kids love it -- and it makes the parents happy, too. Summer and ice cream seem to go hand in hand in our family and I'm afraid I (the mother) probably started that so my own ice cream needs could be fulfilled!"

Their Cooking Style: "I really love cooking and find that even when my day has been crazy busy with school and work I come home and find preparing dinner fun and somewhat relaxing," says Carolyn. "I've also had a lot of fun getting the kids involved in cooking -- they are actually really helpful now. They like mixing, pouring, blending and stirring." As for what to cook for the kids, Carolyn adds: "Tarek is a very unusual eater and loves broccoli, brussel sprouts and asparagus. No joke! He'd eat any of those any day of the week. Of course, he's a normal kid, too, so he loves macaroni and chees and hotdogs, too. Tarek just loves going out to eat. We don't do it that often, so it's a big special treat and sometimes he'll just beg to go out to dinner and he doesn't even care where. Tarek could live on cucumbers too." As for Isabelle, "Isabelle is a bit pickier but also a good eater. She could definitely live on macaroni and cheese. She loves spaghetti and tomato sauce too."
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