Easy school night meals


Monday, September 30th, 2013

Nights are drawing in and the kids are back to school. When they come home, they’re hungry, you’re tired and you all need a quick fix fast. Here are some ideas for healthy weeknight meals that you can rustle up in a flash:

Pasta

Pasta ג€“ particularly the wholewheat variety ג€“ is a great way of filling up little tummies quickly, as depending on the type it takes only around ten minutes to cook. Your child will love it even more if you vary the shapes and colours every once in a while. For instant taste appeal, stir in a blob of pesto, or sprinkle with grated cheese. Brighten it up with a few veggies ג€“ yellow and green peppers and red cherry tomatoes have a pleasing ג€˜traffic light’ effect ג€“ and meat or fish if desired.

Sandwiches

If your child is eating an approved hot meal at school for lunch, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look to sandwiches at dinnertime. Of course, it doesn’t need to be the bog standard cheese roll variety ג€“ you can mix it up using pitta bread, bagels and wraps. If the weather’s cold, sliced bread and bagels can be toasted and pittas and wraps warmed in the oven or briefly microwaved. Vary the fillings according to your child’s preference, favour wholemeal over white bread and try to include a balance of protein and vitamins.

Jacket potatoes

A jacket spud with cheese and baked beans may sound like fast food to some, but actually it’s a great blend of carbohydrate for energy, calcium for bones and protein for muscle development. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are so many other fillings you could experiment with, like chilli con carne, coleslaw, cream cheese and chives and so on. If you have the time to schedule it in, cook the potato in the oven for an hour or so rather than microwaving it ג€“ this makes the skin nice and crunchy.

Salads

Salads need not be boring or limited just to tomato and cucumber ג€“ jazz them up with olives, cubes of cheese such as cheddar or feta, strips of ham or salami, sticks of celery and carrots, healthy side dips like hummus and tzatsiki, croutons, prawns, pasta, rice, radishes, cooked green beans, tins of cooked chick peas, kidney beans or white beans; the list is endless.

Soup and crusty bread

On a cold day, what could be more appealing than a steaming hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread? The beauty of soup is that it can be made in advance and reheated in minutes. Soup invariably involves stock, onions, garlic, herbs and seasoning, but beyond that it’s entirely your call. Maybe you’ve got a surplus of veggies from the garden that need using up, or maybe you’ve got some cold chicken from last night’s roast that needs a good home. Simply blend, boil, simmer then blitz in a food processor.

Pizza

We’re not talking takeaways here. Few children don’t like being involved in designing and baking their own pizza and, if pressed for time, you certainly don’t need to worry about kneading dough and so on. Simply use a pitta bread as the base, let your child carefully spread on some tomato paste or puree, give them a selection of toppings to choose from (chopped peppers, tomatoes, ham, salami, pineapple, sweet corn and olives work a treat), then cover with grated cheese. A couple of minutes under the grill later, and you have an easy dinner with a truly personal touch!

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