I firmly believe that when I serve dinner, the entire family eats the same meal. I don’t cook one meal for my husband and me and one meal for my children. That doesn’t mean that my boys never get to eat things like chicken fingers and mac & cheese. They do. And when they do, my husband and I eat them as well.

Take a look at the photo above. That’s a dinner I happily serve my family. There’s a mixed-greens salad with homemade vinaigrette. Next to that are kid-favorite green beans. The vegetables take up half the plate.

The breaded golden brown sticks you see are chicken fingers that I made myself with organic chicken tenders. And the mac & cheese – you can thank Alton Brown and his Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese recipe for that savory concoction.

Yes, making my own breaded chicken fingers takes longer than opening up a box of processed chicken nuggets, but it’s worth it. I don’t have a specific recipe to give you. I combine panko breadcrumbs, freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper for the breading. I dredge each chicken tender in flour, then in a beaten egg, and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

I try to bread the chicken tenders a few hours before I cook them so the breading has enough time to really adhere to the chicken (although it’s not imperative). When it’s time to cook, I heat my electric skillet to 375 degrees, add canola oil, and fry the chicken. The chicken comes out crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.

The Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese is Alton Brown’s answer to boxed macaroni and cheese. It’s made in one pot on the stove with ingredients I know and trust — organic butter, local eggs, Cabot cheddar cheese, and pasta with whole grains. It doesn’t taste like what comes out of the box; it tastes a whole lot better.

When I combine these two favorite kid foods with half a plate full of vegetables, it’s a meal that satisfies my children and their parents. I make my own honey mustard dipping sauce, too, with mayonnaise, mustard and local honey.

When I make this meal, I always double the amount of chicken because I know we’ll eat it all. The boys like to take the breaded chicken strips chopped up with lots of fresh vegetables and rolled in a tortilla for in their lunch box.

What kid favorites do you serve your family that you make yourself instead of buying the processed, boxed versions?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Homemade chicken fingers and mac & cheese
Serve these kids' favorites to the entire family. There's no guilt when you know exactly what ingredients go into them.