Three meals a day, seven days a week. That’s 21 meals a week at a minimum. In truth, it’s often more if you cook a different dish for the grown-ups or conjure up something extra to tempt a picky child. It’s no surprise that the chief caterer in the household can sometimes struggle for recipe inspiration.
Of course, everyone aspires to produce tasty, home-cooked meals containing all the elements of a healthy diet. And sometimes it’s necessary to smuggle vegetables into dishes to get those vitamins into your children. But time is also of the essence, given the need to feed hungry toddlers or a ravenous after-school crew quickly and without too much fuss.
There are a few sources of inspiration that we’ve found online that have made lunch or supper time that much easier to manage.
- Jemma’s green pancakes from @poppyafraser ’10-minute suppers for children’. This book of fast, easy recipes is a great resource when you’re stuck for what to cook and these pancakes have become a particular favourite in our household. Wilt a bag of spinach or use any leftover cooked green veg that’s lurking in the fridge. Blend this, adding two eggs, two heaped tablespoons of flour, a dash of vegetable oil and a splash of milk. Fry off in small pancakes, then add a little grated cheese and serve.
- Helen’s egg parcels from River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy. This has some great ideas in it and this recipe is, in essence, for crustless quiches. Soften chopped spring onions in a pan, add spinach and wilt. Once cooled, chop the mixture. Combine four eggs, a splash of milk or cream and a small knob of melted butter. Pour the mixture into a mini-muffin tray until each cup is about two-thirds full. Top with the spinach/veg mix and some scraps of whatever you have to hand - cooked bacon, shredded ham or flakes of cooked fish. Add some grated cheese and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until puffed up and golden. Allow to cool slightly and serve warm or cold.
3) Salmon fish fingers from BBC Food. Dear old Auntie’s website has some brilliant recipes on it and this one is very popular with children. After all, who doesn’t love fish fingers? These bear little relation to the orange-crumbed, shop-bought variety, but are still quick and easy to prepare. Cut a salmon fillet into strips, dunk in egg mixture, then breadcrumbs (add sweet smoked paprika if desired). Pop on a baking tray and cook in the oven (200C / 180 Fan) for about 25 mins. Serve with potato or sweet potato wedges and your child’s favourite vegetable.
If you have a favourite kids’ meal that has cut down your time in the kitchen and still kept the hungry hordes happy, do let us know. All tips are very welcome!