You know how it goes, in the morning you think to yourself, “What will I give them for their tea tonight”, but ignore the situation because you’ve all day to come up with some inspiration. Before you know it, it’s 2 o’clock, the school run is in an hour, and you’ve got to get to the
Cher feeds her kids sweetie kebabs
shops before you pick them up. Otherwise you WILL be feeding them from the chipper around the corner, Rice Krispies (if you hadn’t run out of those as well) or from the stash of Haribo on top of the kitchen cupboards. If I was to star in a film, it would be as the mum played by Cher in Mermaids. Marshmallow kebabs for dinner. Genius!!
So I’m darting through Sainsbury’s mentally checking off the daily things we need……milk, fruit, veg, porridge, bread etc. Now for dinner. When you’re cooking for a family day in, day out, it is probably very helpful, and essential if you want to ease the stress, to have a menu planned for the week. I should be taking my own advice. Not only would I not have to decide what we’re eating on the hoof in the aisles, trying to remember how many times we’ve had red meat this week, but it may also mean that I don’t have to cross the threshold of the supermarket every day.
What you feed your family doesn’t have to be exotic or exciting. I think that we convince ourselves that to be a good parent, we’ve got to produce amazing meals ‘designed’ by celebrity chefs. I suspect this is probably due to the explosion over the last few years of cookery shows and whole sections of the Sunday papers devoted to food and recipes.
You know what? I don’t have the time or the energy to play ‘hunt the ingredient’ from the local Thai supermarket, and certainly don’t have the funds to make Wholefoods my local. Chia seeds are all very well, but excruciatingly expensive (£20/kg), and wholegrain rice is almost as nutritious (£1/kg). I absolutely believe, and the scientific evidence shows, that what you feed your children has a fundamental effect on their development and health. However, I can achieve this from my local supermarket, with a shopping list that I won’t have to remortgage the house for.
In my opinion, as long as you use the basic equation of carbohydrate, protein and veg for a meal, you can’t go far wrong. If you can tick the boxes for wholegrain carbs, calcium, iron and omega 3s you’re doing a stirling job. Extra points if you don’t use processed food, but don’t stress too much if a sausage making machine isn’t on your Christmas list. Ha!
Here’s my list of the meals that I give my children (6, 4 and 1). All three of them have their own quirks and ‘challenges’ when it comes to mealtimes and food preferences. I pretty much ignore them, the less drama the better (that’s a whole other post!)
Carbs: Pasta, basmati rice, wholegrain rice, potatoes
Protein: chicken, beef mince, cheese, eggs, fish fingers, sausages, lentils, baked beans
Veg: carrots, peppers, onions, peas, broccoli, runner beans, baked beans. I also use my basic tomato sauce/soup recipe about 3 times a week for bolognaise, in shepherds pie and with meatballs.
And the meals:
- meatballs & pasta
- spaghetti bolognaise
- shepherd’s pie
- fish fingers, mash potato, carrots
- sausages, jacket potato, baked beans
- jacket potato, beans, cheese
- jacket potato, tuna & sweetcorn mayo, red pepper slices
- rice, broccoli, chicken (slow cooked), gravy
- egg fried rice, runner beans
- Pasta & sausage bake: pasta, tomato sauce, chopped up
- Pasta & pesto, grated cheese and carrots/peas
Sometimes I will literally throw together anything from the basic equation of carbs, protein and
The Incredible Hulk loves broccoli don’t you know?
veg, eg. left over rice (in the fridge), a tin of baked beans and grated cheese (I was a little surprised that they ate this quite happily, they must have been VERY hungry!) If ‘incentives’ are required for making a good effort to eat the meal, stickers may be offered. If one of them claims to be full up when I know that they probably aren’t, I just say, “oh well, you’ll have no room for custard then.” That usually does the trick (that or a little dollop of tomato ketchup).
If I’m feeling like Top Mom, we’ll chat about how runner beans make you run fast, carrots help you to see in the dark, and cheese gives you strong bones and healthy teeth for the tooth fairy. And the Incredible Hulk just LOVES broccoli, don’t you know? I never make them clear their plate, I’m happy if they have made a decent effort, and aren’t messing about at the table.
usually, who am I kidding, always homemade custard and stewed apple or tinned pears. I shovel that in to them during TV time after dinner. Thus ticking the calcium and fruit boxes. Yay! I prefer homemade to the ready made as it is so much more economical, and it has far less sugar.
I’m not saying this will work for every family and child. It is what works for me, and hopefully for them.