Eat Well

Most parents are pretty hot on what goes into their kids’ mouths. But it can be challenging trying to keep the family well-fuelled when everyone’s getting in the door after 5pm.

I’ve lowered my standards over the years in terms of the types of meals I serve. I’d spend hours in the kitchen at the weekends making healthy meals only to have the boys turn their nose up at it. Try them with falafel by all means, but buy a tub rather than investing time into soaking and mashing chickpeas.

There are ways to ensure they get their five plus a day without turning your kitchen into a Master Chef panic zone. Plan ahead, keep it simple but tasty and have a few quick and easy go to meals.

Here’s a few simple tips for making sure you eat well on a budget:

  • Plan ahead – always make a list before shopping. We do it on Friday night and I try to add one special/new meal to the menu to bolster the tried and trusted recipes.
  • Sunday morning – precious I know but if you can get up at normal time and make a meal or two ahead, it takes the pressure off during the week. I do casseroles, soup,  stews, meatballs, meals that can be easily  reheated and keep well in the fridge.

And some recipes:

  • Frittata – really a fancy omelette right?! Couple of cold spuds, some spinach, spicy sausage, capsicum whatever else is left over/needs used doused with egg and milk.
  • Homemade pizza – as above but throw them on a flat base. Use left over chicken, frankfurters, roast a bit of pumpkin/kumara and spread BBQ sauce on the base if yours, like mine, are culinary heathens.
  • Gran’s salad – remember those? Lettuce, cheese, eggs, carrots, maybe some tomatoes (or chuck in some spinach and tell them it’s a special kind of lettuce ;-). Ours thought cauliflower was white broccoli for years …). Nothing to get fussy about and you can use leftovers in bread rolls/pita pockets during the week.
  • Beetroot salad – Grate beetroot and carrot, chuck some parsley through, mix some olive oil with garlic paste and lemon juice, sprinkle through. Serve as a salad or in pita pockets.
  • Homemade KFC – cut chicken breasts into strips, put in a couple of plastic bags and bang with rolling pin til flat. Mix some flour, bit of chili, Parmesan and pepper. Coat chicken in beaten egg then flour mixture. Lightly pan fry.
  • Crumbed fish – we’ve got a good local fish supplier nearby in Green Island. My husband’s healthy go to is to pick up fresh fish on the way home, coat, bake and serve with oven baked fries and veges. Simple but nutritious.
  • Potato Bake – clean and slice up 4-6 potatoes, cover with a tin of potato bake, sprinkle with herbs (parsley good), top with grated cheese. You can also cover with tomatoes or cold meat for extra flavour.
  • Smoothies – great for growing teens. Bit of banana, a few blueberries, plain yoghurt and milk helps them with the protein boost so many seeks via tins these days.

Professional advice:

  • Consult an expert – I’ve found several easy meals in Annabel Langbein’s books that keep things interesting and challenge the kids palette.
  • School cookbooks – these feature recipes from other busy families. I like Remarkables Primary School’s Crunch Munch Scrumdiddlyunch and there are plenty of others around too.

Bake off:

  • The home baking rabbit hole – who hasn’t been down that one? While your ginger crunch might be without equal when you’re feeling inclined to spend a Saturday afternoon baking, as soon as there’s a deadline, nothing works. Notices arrive mid week for camps with requests that HOME BAKING (yes, in caps) be supplied. If you haven’t got time, you haven’t. Buy a bag of chocolate chips from Couplands or similar and put them in an ice cream container. No point staying up til the wee small hours trying to please people who are living on a different planet. Trust me.
  • Birthday cake woes – it took me longer to accept this one but, I’m no Nigella Lawson when it comes to sweet treats. For Master 14s first birthday, I served banana cake complete with a red car stuck on top. I then spent months choking on my marzipan after attending parties with Tractor Tom and T-Rex themed extravaganzas. All of a sudden our cake seemed somewhat, well pathetic. For the next few years, I unsuccessfully attempted to emulate these culinary queens but to no avail. It always ended badly. (But hey, if you need a carefully crafted media release, I’m your girl!) The best ones I’ve managed are cakes shaped in the appropriate number – 7 was a good year. Aside from that, I’m totally unashamed to admit Pak N Save is my go to now. I can’t make a cake for the price they sell them on my schedule. Plus I’ve learned that by the time you serve the cake, most kids are either disinterested or ready to puke. Hopefully my children appreciate many things I do with and for them but cake making just isn’t on the list. And I can live with that.

Eat simply, eat well!

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