Proud mother, and new writer. Tips, advice, and anecdotes from a woman's perspective.
Published July 14th 2013
Put a smile on their faces at dinner time
Cooking for kids is never cheap or easy, especially if you have three or more. Here are a few ideas for meals, and how to stretch them.
1. Spaghetti bolognese (and if you're not a meat eater swap for Quorn). You can't go wrong with this one. To save time I use Dolmio sauce – the original is the best tasting one, and you can always add a tin of chopped tomatoes to give it a bit more volume, which gets you an extra portion. To make it interesting for younger children try adding some food colouring (any colour) to the spaghetti. They love to eat food that doesn't appear to be the 'proper' colour.
2. Chilli con carne. Very simple recipe – fry 800 gram of minced beef/quorn, two onions, two garlic cloves, and two rashers of bacon cut into pieces, add a pinch of salt, tin of tomatoes, and just a teaspoon of chilli powder (not too much – if you're feeding little ones they don't want it too hot).
I use baked beans because I find children prefer baked beans to kidney beans and it also adds volume to the dish. And as with spaghetti dish, you can also put a bit of food colouring in the rice, and the kids love it.
Both the chilli and spag' bol are freezable too – just remember to portion it first.
3. Simply make fish fingers with baked beans or peas with mashed potato, and just arrange it differently on the plate. Put one fish, line of beans, line of potato repeated a few times and pretend it's the family flag, or put three fish fingers in a 'u' shape and fill with the vegetables and potato.
4. Home-made pancakes for savoury or sweet meal (or both). Hardly any measuring is needed: three eggs, a big mug of flour, (self-raising or plain), the same size mug of full-fat milk (kids need the protein), and a pinch of salt. It is best made the night before and used the following day.
Fry a few chopped onions, grate some cheese, fry the first side of the pancake and once it's turned over, sprinkle the onion and cheese on top and fold it up. You can also wrap a sausage in a pancake, which is healthier than pastry. Or you could try tuna and onion, and also cheese and tomato. It's a delicious and cheap and filling.
For a change just simply make your pancake and spread with jam or marmalade, or even chocolate spread, or do plain pancakes, cut it into little bite size pieces, and place the jam or chocolate spread in an egg cup so it becomes a dip. For adults and older children chopped up fruit is lovely in them as well.