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 shops before you pick them up.
So I’m darting through Sainsbury’s mentally checking off the daily things we need……milk, fruit, veg, oats, bread etc. But what for dinner?? If I was a proper mother I would have a meal plan for the week, and order everything on line for a scheduled home delivery. It think that’s what a successful mum does? I KNOW that I should, but I just can. not. do. it.
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.
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). 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.
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.
Here’s my list of the meals that I give my children (9, 6 and 3). 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!)
Carbohydrates: Pasta, rice, potatoes, fajita wraps, bread
Protein: chicken, beef mince, cheese, eggs, fish fingers, sausages, lentils, baked beans, turkey
Veg: carrots, peppers, onions, peas, broccoli, baked beans. I also use my basic tomato sauce/soup recipe about 3 times a week for bolognaise, in shepherds pie and with meatballs.
- 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
- Pasta & sausage bake: pasta, tomato sauce, chopped up sausages
- Chicken Fajitas – chicken breasts, onion, red peppers, fajita mix and wraps
Sometimes I will literally throw together anything from the basic equation of carbs, protein and veg, eg. left over rice from 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.
Pudding is usually natural yogurt or custard with stewed apple/frozen berries, or frozen
banana whizzed up in the blender with yogurt.
I’m not saying this will work for every family and child. It is what works for me, and hopefully for them.