One of the biggest things to hit me since my four year old started school has been that I have to feed him. Every day. I work full time and before he started school my little boy enjoyed a lovely home-cooked nutritious lunch and dinner at nursery. Now, I pick up a tired, hungry boy from after-school club at 5.30pm, who turns into an emotional wreck if I don’t feed him within approximately 17 seconds of getting in the house. I need to make quick meals.
So 17 seconds might be pushing it, but I have discovered that I can throw together something pretty nutritious in around ten minutes by keeping some staples in the fridge and freezer.
For those of you who batch cook and freeze portions of dinner and remember to defrost them during the day ready for teatime– I applaud you, but I haven’t reached these ninja levels of organisation yet. I am very much muddling through this whole working mum of children at school thing, and I can’t give him beans on toast every night.
Maybe you’re just looking for inspiration for tonight’s tea, or like me, are massively lazy sometimes. Either way, here are my top ‘throw it together in ten minutes’ child-friendly dishes or ‘zen in ten’ as I call it because there’s nothing like the sudden calm and quiet that descends when a small child is eating.
If you’re looking for meal ideas for smaller children and babies you can find some brilliant baby led weaning hacks here
Chicken Fried Rice
Oil – 1 small spoonful
Frozen peas and sweetcorn (or frozen veg your kids like) – handful
Mange tout – handful
Pre-cooked pouch of rice – flavoured if they like it ( I like Uncle Bens Express Mexican Rice)
– Put a spoonful of oil in a frying pan and heat.
– Get the frozen veg out of your freezer.
– Chop a small handful of mangetout and put in the frying pan
*MUM TIP – use scissors to chop it straight into the pan*
– Add all the frozen stuff and the deli chicken to the pan.
– Stir fry for a few minutes. Add about 1/3 of the pre-cooked rice pouch and continue to cook for another minute or so.
Oil -1 small spoonful
Frozen cooked prawns
Half a noodle nest (I like Sharwoods)
Frozen peas (handful)
Frozen peppers (handful)
– Put the noodles and frozen peas in a small bowl. Cover with hot water and put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes or whatever the packet says.
*MUM TIP – Now is a great time to pour yourself a glass of wine*
– Heat the oil in a frying pan for a minute then add the frozen peppers.
– Drain the water from the noodles and veg and add to the pan. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the chicken and continue to fry until everything is piping hot.
– If your kids like their food plain, serve it like this. If they’re slightly more adventurous, add a dash of soy sauce and a drizzle of honey.
Pizza toppings of your choice (pineapple, ham, peppers, sweetcorn etc)
– Turn your oven on to about 180 degrees
– Take a large tortilla wrap and put it on a baking tray. Spread it with a teaspoon of tomato puree mixed with a couple of tablespoons of passata.
– Top with grated cheese and your toppings of choice.
*MUM TIP – Freeze leftover tortilla wraps with a bit of baking paper or clingfilm in between so they don’t tear when you take one out*
– Put in the oven for about 7 minutes.
Amazing MOLO tips
When I mentioned I was writing this blog on the Motherload Facebook group, I got some great tips about key ingredients from the amazing MOLOs who are also faced with hungry children and little time.
Here are seven of the best:
“Frozen mash. 5 mins in the microwave. Frozen steam veg bags by Birdseye. 3 mins in the microwave. Gravy. Super quick and vaguely healthy.”
“Tortelloni and filled pasta takes literally minutes.”
“Soup pasta or quick cook pasta takes literally a few minutes to cook. Add a bit of passata and just as you’re about to drain the pasta add some grated cheese and a teaspoon of pesto. Add pasta to sauce and stir through.”
“Frozen gnocchi cooks in about 3 minutes, so can just take out a little bit at a time for small diners. Bit of pesto or cream cheese and peas.”
“Vermicelli nests are really quick to cook, mix with pesto or butter and parmesan. Veg/dough balls on side.”
“My boys love a ‘snack attack’ tea. Ham, tomatoes, olives, carrot sticks, houmous, oatcakes, cheese….easy and quick.”
“We love a “monster mash” in this house. All the veggies in one pot, mostly sweet potato, some potatoes, carrots, broccoli sometimes suede, cauliflower, whatever veg I have really. Boil to smithareens, mash up with some butter, and we do a dash of smoked paprika. Delicious with some sausages that can cook while they are boiling.”
Love this? You can read Marianne’s top parenting hacks for starting school here
About Marianne Marshall
Marianne is a full time writer and PR professional and lives in rural Lincolnshire in a falling down cottage with her husband and children – Charlie (4) and Rosa (2).