- Do you find yourself cooking different meals for everyone?
- Buying more convenience food because it is?
- Busy and out of balance with life, work and family?
- Struggling for ideas for things to cook that you’ll all enjoy?
Any of this sound familiar?
Below are some ideas for simple family meals created by my children, I’d love about your favourites and I’ll add them below.
A ‘How I’ Blog – How I Keep Sane at Mealtimes
In the past few months my family food choices have gone down hill, I returned to teaching 3 days a week, so went down the more convenience food route, plus the other days I was off the kids had activities early evening which also disrupted eating.
We all like different Meals
My family loves food and eats well – just not the same as each other. One of my children doesn’t like meat so much, the other dislikes sauces and my husband doesn’t eat fish or chicken. I wrote this blog earlier in the year about how eating together improves connection, here, we were eating together just not great food!
Not only have we been filling up on more processesed, salty and unheathy food, it’s costing money.
So what to do, how to get back into a good eating habits?
The holidays and a change in routine have brought some much needed time to create and reflect. With fresh inspiration this is my new plan and I’m writing it down, maybe it will give you some ideas too –
- Sit down as a family and write down 5 of your favourite home cooked meal choices each.
- See if any of them correlate – live in hope.
- Ask them which days they feel it would be good to eat their chosen meal(s).
- From the 20 or so meals, choose several and draw up a weekly or fortnightly meal plan to pin on fridge or door
- Create a shopping list from this plan – ask the kids to do this with you.
- Find out which days they would like to be involved with cooking one or two meals each week. Mine are particulary keen to make pizzas.
- Which days would they like to come to the supermarket to help gather the ingredients (they do love a trip as they can stare at the toys too). When they were little they helped write the lists and loved running off to find things. Whilst it’ a pain to take them sometimes and ends up costing more, it is a good time together as well with them.
- If they don’t like the meal chosen on the weekly plan, what would they prefer and would they like to prepare it the day before with you or on the day?
- What parts of their favourite meals could we look to grow on the allotment, in the garden, in a pot etc?
Getting the Kids Involved
My 10 year old daughter was bored today, so we bought ingredients this morning to make pizza and she taught herself to make one following a recipe online. Not sure she could fit any more olives on. I note the processed ham. I reckon she could make this when she gets in from school on one of the days I’m working. I’ve taught my 12 year old son Luke to hoover the house this week and fold the ironing. My child labour plan is coming on nicely.
Below are some really simple healthy-ish meals the children chose, which can easily be adapted plus I’ve added some vegetarian ideas too –
spaghetti bolognaise (of course) meat, I cook a lovely lentil one which they turn their noses up at – sweat onions, chopped celery and carrots for about 10 mins in some chopped bacon if you have it, add mince and brown, top with about 200ml stock, tin toms or fresh ones and cook for about an hour on low. Serve with pasta, top with grated cheese and parsley. For the veggie version use all the same ingredients except cook the brown or red lentils in a separate pan, or buy them ready cooked and add to the veg, tomatoes and stock.
cod in lemon and parsley – season fresh cod, fry cod in butter and oil until browned. Take off and squeeze a lemon into the pan, pour over fish and sprinkle on parsley serve with new pots, rice etc
chicken soup – they just love this – leftover roast chicken (again easy to cook and use up over a few days) or cook some breasts and chop and put to one side. Sweat and soften a variety of veg eg carrots, celery, onion, courgettes for 10 mins in butter. Add a litre of stock (I tend to buy organic stock or sometimes make my own in the slow cooker) and some noodles. Once the noodles are cooked add the leftover chicken and heat through for 2 minutes, serve with parsley and crusty bread. For a vegetarian version try using borlotti beans and pasta – minestrone style.
pulled pork rolls with apple sauce – put a loin of pork in the slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, put on low and cook all day. Serve in white rolls with apple sauce or as a nice roast with some potatoes and veg.
homemade pizza – there are various recipes to make the dough or can use pitta bread, or flat tortillas. Once made cover with tomato puree or thin layer of chopped toms and choice of toppings, then bake in oven for 7 to 10 mins if using pitta or 20 mins if the fresh dough version. Ellie has chosen cheese, olives, ham, anchovies. Luke wants pepperoni and chillis and is excited about making these.
chicken (or other meat or haloumi cheese) kebabs – fresh cubed chicken threaded onto skewers, could be alternated with veg such as courgette, onion and pepper. Choose a topping or marinade in the day with for example lemon and yoghurt, or pesto, or olive oil with herbs, whatever your kids choose and like. Grill for 15 minutes turning frequently. Serve with salad or veg, rice or potatoes etc.
Friends also shared their favourite meals –
From Lucia Knight – Thank you Jane, We love make your own tacos with pre-made & frozen chilli, wraps and a load of small bits and pieces from the fridge(peppers, sweetcorn, cucumber & grated cheese or anything you fancy). Great for play dates as it can all be made in as little as it takes to heat up the chilli and gives fussy eaters some choice.
Thanks Mark love to try this Paella too – Mark Beresford Chicken thighs chorizo and red peppers. All fried in a large pan. Add chilli flakes. Simmer with sone stock. Add paella rice. Simmer. Eat. Great quick and easy meal. Freezes too.
Would love to hear about your favourite family recipes, please do comment or pm me x
I asked friends to comment on their meal times –
Belinda allowed me to share this, her child has an autistic spectrum disorder, there is humour to her writing and it puts my own mealtime gripes in perspective, thank you x
Jake also struggles with people eating with their mouths open … a problem every Sunday when we have my mother in law with dementia for dinner. I have to have a seating plan!
Jake eats very quickly even after 10 years of me working in slowing him down!
Poppy is vegetarian
I try not to eat gluten
Jez eats anything except fish!
We do sit down and eat together daily, some days with greater success than others.
Jake is trying new foods having grown them in his veg patch .. courgette being the latest. This is a fantastic step forwards x
Julie writes – I caught Luke feeding Ella spoonfuls of ketchup the other day and Ella is digging into her third pizza of week. Homemade but still…
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