Anyone else worry that their child may be 80% sausage, 20% potato waffle some weeks?! (Asking for a friend! 😂) Never fear I try not to get too bogged down or upset if I miss the mark some days on nutrition. I try my best but some days you just don’t have the time or energy to make dinner from scratch-or else the kids are in the kind of mood where you don’t want to waste valuable time cooking when whatever you make will be turned down so you just stick to Captain Birdseye! Tip Number 1 – don’t get too disheartened it happens to the best of us (except Annabel Karmel, I bet she doesn’t have an emergency pack of chicken nuggests stashed in her freezer! 😂)
With an 11 month old who gave up milk at 7 months and eats a crazy amount of food, along with a constantly hungry 3 year old, I struggle most days trying to think of decent snacks and meals to give my kids. Fruit and veg is always a great choice.. but you have to think of the fibre (and the horrendous nappies if you give the baby too much fruit) also sometimes you just dont have any fresh fruit left after a mad blueberry/grape binge (toddlers take notions for stuff and will gorge for days and eat you out of house and home) and then other days refuse to look at anything remotely healthy.
Recently I started menu planning and it hasn’t only cut my food bills but has made life a lot easier. This is Tip Number 2! Spend a little time sorting out meal ideas for the week and it makes the weekly shop a bit less stressful and you have way less 4pm dinner hassle. Now we have one motto at meal times, if they dont like/want what I have prepared that’s fine, I will try and persuade them but if that fails then they get nothing else-no substitutions. I try not to get overly worked up over dinner (shouty mum does come out some nights though and I find myself screaming ‘it’s only a bloody tomato and you liked them yesterday’ at a huffy toddler!) Baby girl is still at that amazing age when they basically eat whatever you give her so I’m rolling with that for as long as I can!
Snacks I have given the kids this week…
•rice cakes, for some reason they love them
•toast/scones/pancakes – we go through way too many carbs in our house
•cherios – an actual godsend as I make myself believe they are a decent snack because the box says they are multigrain and fortified with vitimins!
•fruit (if I said veg I would be lying as toddler boy hates all veg right now and baby girl has no teeth!)
•mild cheddar cheese cubes
As I said before it’s all relative. Obviously ‘bad snacks’ aren’t the best choice but some days they are the ONLY choice! So give yourself a break and move on.
Tip Number 3 is to avoid getting bogged down in recipes. If you don’t have all the ingredients it says you need could you adapt it? Could you substitute something you do have? If you don’t like something in a recipe leave it out. And change the quantities to suit the portion you need.
Egg Cups (makes 6)
3 eggs. Splash milk. 6 pieces of bread with crusts removed. Filling of choice – grated cheese and chopped ham/cheese and onion/red pepper and feta/grated carrit and corgette.
Oven 170°c. Roll out bread with rolling pin and place in a cupcake tin like a liner. Whisk eggs and milk and pour into the cups. Add filling. Bake for 20-25min or until egg fully cooked.
Potatoes peeled, chopped, boiled and mashed. 4 fillets of fish,I use smoked haddock but use whatever you enjoy. 500ml milk. 2 carrots grated. 1 corgette grated. 50g butter. 1tbsp cornflower. 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Put fish in a bowl and cover with milk. Microwave for 2-3 min. Take out fish and flake into an ovenproof dish-reserve milk. Put butter in a pan and melt then add cornflower and cook for a minute, whisk in leftover milk and add cheese to make a cheese sauce. Pour over fish and add grated veg. Leave to cool then top with mashed potato. Oven at 180°c for 30min.
Cauliflower and Broccoli soup
1 large cauliflower. 2 broccoli. 1 onion. 1.5pint veg stock. 1/2 cup grated cheese. Splash milk.1tbsp oil.
Chop and fry onion in oil. Roughly chop and add cauliflower and broccoli. Add stock and simmer for 10 min, add a bit more water and cook for further 15min. Once all veg fully cooked remove from heat. Blend with hand blender or potato masher. Add cheese and splash of milk and stir over low heat. Serve with crusty bread.
Tip Number 4, next time you are in the supermarket spice aisle then look out for ‘ras-el-hanout’ it’s an incredible spice mix that you can put on grilled meat and veg or add to soups and stews if you like a Moroccan flavour.
2 chicken breasts. 1 onion. 1 butternut squash. 2tsp ras-el-hanout. 1tsp cumin. 1tsp paprika. 2 garlic cloves. 1 tin chopped tomatoes. 1/2 pint veg stock.
Chop and fry onion. Peel and chop butternut squash and place in ovenproof dish. Add diced chicken and crushed garlic to the frying pan. Add spices. Add tomatoes and stock and simmer for 5 min. Transfer to ovenproof dish with lid and cook at 180°c for 1 hour. Serve with cous cous and pitta.
This is food with beef or lamb too, just adjust the cooking temp to 160°c and double cooking time.
If all else fails..raid the freezer! I am passionate about cooking but understand the stress that parents face when they have to come up with 7 lunches and dinners every week. So it’s time to help each other out. Share recipes with friends, give them your tip tips an time saving hacks. Or even share the number for the nearest take away in your area!
Hope you are all well this week.