Tag Archives: family meals

55 ideas for family meals your kids will actually eat

If you’re looking to save money and eat well for less, the key really is meal planning. Sitting down each week, planning a menu of tasty family meals and only buying what you need can save your family an awful lot of time and money. I try where I can to meal plan, setting out a fortnightly menu and then doing a big online shop for everything I need. This saves me so much time and money, plus knowing what I’m cooking on whichever night takes the thinking out of it.

It’s easy for me to say the meal planning is the key to success, but I can guarantee that when I sit down with my blank piece of paper to plan out the next 14 family meals, I cannot think of one single family meal. Over the last few months I’ve been putting together a list of the meals I’ve made, so when meal planning day arrives I just have a quick look through my list for inspiration and then get down to work.

Family meals: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

If you’re stuck for ideas for family meals your family will actually eat, below you will find a list of 55 family meals that we cook on a fairly regular basis, where there is a recipe for that dish on my blog I have included a link to it.

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

Baked butternut squash
Baked fish and vegetables
Battered or breaded fish and chips
Beef or mushroom stroganoff
Beef stew
Burgers
Cauliflower cheese
Chicken casserole served with potato gratin
Chicken Kievs
Chilli con carne
Cottage pie
Curry and rice
Dahl
Egg and chips
Fajitas
Fish pie
Fish wraps
Fishcakes
Fishfingers chips and beans
Full English
Galette (a bit like a pie)
Gnocchi
Homemade Chicken nuggets or goujons
Homemade soup
Hot dogs or these pizza hot dogs
Imam Bayildi (Baked aubergines)
Jacket potatoes
Jacket sweet potatoes with sour cream and spring onions
Jamie Oliver’s Butternut Squash Penne Pasta
Lancashire Hotpot
Lasagne
Lentil cottage pie
Macaroni cheese
Macaroni peas
Omelette
Pasta bake
Pesto pasta
Pie and mash
Pizza – shop bought or homemade
Quiche
Risotto
Roast dinner
Sausages and mash
Sausage casserole
Sausage ragu
Shepherds pie
Spaghetti and meatballs
Spaghetti Bolognese
Spanish style sausages in bravas sauce
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Stir fry
Sweet and sour pork or chicken
Thai style curry
Toad in the Hole
Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake

55 family meal suggestions – that’s not a bad place to start from is it? I hope you’ve found some inspiration. I’ll be adding to this list as time goes on, so expect it to grow and grow.

What are your favourite family meals? Have I missed anything essential off my list?

55 ideas for family meals your family will actually eat

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs – great to make with kids!

The school holidays can take a lot of filling. On our last day off school we met up with some friends and headed to Bella Italia for lunch, then for a play at the nearby Wacky Warehouse. Lunch for 7 lively kids and 4 weary Mums was a nice relaxed affair, the food was a crowd pleaser, but one thing caught my eye – the pizza hot dogs on the kid’s menu. It was something I knew I’d have to recreate at home. I had a hunch they’d be a hit and they really were.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Not only are the pizza hot dogs great for kids to eat, but it turns out they’re lots of fun for them to make too. They are as junky as they sound, but as a once in a while treat they’re pretty blooming fantastic. If you’re feeding vegetarians you can use vegetarian hot dog sausages (which I’ve fed to both boys before and they’ve not noticed), if not, just choose your favourite frankfurter or hot dog sausage.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

I used a pizza base mix – most supermarkets have their own these days; a jar of pizza topping and some of those bright orange cheese slices you put on burgers. It’s up to you if you want to use a homemade sauce or a less processed cheese. These pizza hot dogs are a quick meal the kids can help you make. Perfect for a picnic lunch, movie nights at home, or for when you’ve got a crowd of little monkeys around for a playdate or party.

Pizza Hot Dogs

Ingredients – makes 8 
1 packet of pizza base mix (145g)
8 slices of burger cheese
1/2 jar of pizza topping sauce
8 frankfurters or hot dog sausages

Method

Make up the pizza dough following the instructions on the packet. Pre-heat your oven to the temperature suggested on the packet  – mine was 200°.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces and roll out into rectangles (on a floured surface). There needs to be about 2cms at the top and bottom and 3cm each side when you put your sausage on.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Take each cheese slice and cut it in half. Then lay the cheese on top of the dough and spread a heaped teaspoon of the pizza topping sauce on top of the cheese. Put your hot dog on top of the tomato sauce.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the dough over the sausage and press the edges of the dough together. Pull one of the long edges over the sausage and tuck it under. Pull the other edge across so the sausage is hidden inside. Pinch all the edges together until they are sealed shut.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Dust a baking tray with flour or polenta so the dough doesn’t stick. Lay your pizza hog dogs on the tray. You may want to brush them with olive oil at this point, but that’s up to you.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The time will depend on how thickly you’ve rolled out your dough. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

They retain their heat very well, so it’s an idea to cut them open and leave them to cool before little ones get their hands on them.

These Pizza Hot Dogs are really fun to make and a real family treat. You could fill them with your favourite pizza toppings too – pepperoni pizza hot dog anyone?

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Five Delicious Vegetarian Comfort Food Dishes

I turned vegetarian when I was 13 and there’s not a lot I miss, but on a cold winter night I do sometimes hanker after the slow cooked, deep flavoured chilli my Nan used to make. Thankfully after lots of practice I’ve finally nailed the recipe and managed to make it vegetarian too.

Most of the warming comfort food dishes from my childhood were meat based – family roast dinners, my Nan’s amazing beef chilli, corned beef hash, shepherd’s pie and bubbling stews cooked so long the meat almost melted in your mouth.

There’s something about cooking up some comfort food which makes you feel like you’re showing your family some extra love. I enjoy throwing a few things in the slow cooker and knowing that by tea time there will be a delicious meal ready for my family.

Vegetarian comfort food can feel a bit hard to come by, so I’ve created and shared some of our favourite family recipes on my blog, here are five of my favourite vegetarian comfort food recipes – 

Vegetarian Galletes

vegetarian comfort food

These are a recent addition to my comfort food repertoire. They’re really easy to make, utterly delicious and once you get the hang of it you can fill them however you want. I made a Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Quince Galette and a Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette. Both were absolutely bang on and real crowd pleasers.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

vegetarian comfort food

Now autumn is here my soup making pot is starting to see some serious action. Cauliflowers are cheap and plentiful in the shops, so I recreated my favourite soup, but with a cheesy twist. Try my very delicious Norwegian inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup.

Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

vegetarian comfort food

I’d had it in my head to make a big Spanish style bravas sausage casserole in my slow cooker for a while. This summer hadn’t been up to much and I was desperate to start rustling up comfort food dishes, and this was the first one of the season. I made my sausage casserole with Quorn sausages, but you could very easily make them with your favourite meaty sausages if you’d prefer. I made the sauce in the slow cooker and let it bubble away gently to itself for a few hours. The recipe is really simple and it’s now a firm family favourite.

Authentic Armenian style Imam Bayildi 

vegetarian comfort food

Imam Bayildi is basically stuffed, baked aubergines. They’re simple to make, you can prepare them ahead of time and then cook them when you need them and they are melt in the mouth gorgeous. I like to use good quality ingredients in this recipe as every single mouthful zings flavour. Fresh vegetables and herbs are essential, they’re packed full of flavour and these sunshiny aubergines are a little bit of summer on a cold autumn evening.

Easy Microwave Jam Sponge

vegetarian comfort food

No vegetarian comfort food round-up would be complete without a pudding. This incredibly easy to make and very quick to cook microwave jam sponge is just the ticket to warm your cockles on a cold winter evening. All you need are a few store cupboard ingredients, ten minutes of your time and you’ve got a good pud that’ll make your family smile.

Voucherbox.co.uk have a great blog post about the five healthy foods that can actually save you money, and if you want even more money off your online shop they also have plenty of Sainsbury’s vouchers which you can use.

vegetarian comfort food

Recipe: Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

When I go out for tapas I always order patatas bravas. I love the crispy pieces of potato smothered in the garlicky, tomatoey bravas sauce. I’ve had it in my head to make a big Spanish style bravas sausage casserole in my slow cooker for a while. This summer has not been up to much and the rainy days have had me guiltily rustling up comfort food dishes, instead of summery salads and such like.

I confess I made my sausage casserole with Quorn sausages, but you could very easily make them with your favourite meaty sausages if you’d prefer. Making the sauce in the slow cooker and letting it bubble away gently to itself for a few hours makes it extra delicious.

Bravas Sausage Casserole

I browned the sausages separately and popped them into the sauce for the last hour or so. The great thing about Quorn sausages is that they take on some of the flavour of the sauce.

To serve I roasted some new potatoes in some oil and once they were cooked I spooned over some sausages and bravas sauce and added a dollop of incredibly garlicky aioli.

Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

Serves 4
A super simple, delicious and fairly frugal family meal.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 500g cartons of passata
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
8 sausages (two per person) I used Quorn sausages

Instructions
In a frying pan gently fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it’s soft but not brown. Add in the garlic towards the end of cooking and cook through.

Tip the fried onion and garlic into your slow cooker, add the passata, tomato purée, smoked paprika, sweet chilli sauce, sugar and oregano and cook on medium for about 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning if you feel it needs it.

In the frying pan, fry your sausages until they’re brown, drain and add to the sauce and leave to cook through for an hour. Before serving stir through 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley.

Serve the Bravas Sausage Casserole with crispy roasted potatoes and aioli. Scatter with the remaining chopped fresh parsley.

Notes
I sometimes finely dice some peppers, cook them off and add them to the sauce to bump up the veg content. This sauce is perfect for hiding secret veg from your children!
This does make lots of sauce. If you have lots left over, it’s delicious warmed up the next day with crusty bread.

The Bravas Sausage Casserole was delicious and something I will be making over and over again. What’s more it’s very simple, pretty quick to throw together and fairly frugal. What’s not to love?

Recipe: Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

Kitchen Basics: Versatile Tomato Sauce

One of the staple dishes in our kitchen is a really simple tomato sauce. I make a batch almost fortnightly and it’s used in a few different ways, from spaghetti and meatballs, in lasagne, with baked vegetable dishes and topping pizzas, it’s so simple to do and the basis of so many meals it is one of the first things I’ll be teaching the boy to cook. Using some of the Cirio tomato products I’ve been sent, I knocked up a batch of sauce for a quick and simple meal this week.

Versatile Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
1 large onion (or two small ones) finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 bottle of Cirio passata
1 pod of Cirio tomato purée
1 teaspoon of oregano or mixed herbs
1 teaspoon of pesto, tomato pesto if you have it (optional)
Olive oil
Sugar
Salt & pepper

Method:
1. In a frying pan heat up a splosh of olive oil (about a tablespoon) and gently soften your finely chopped onion. Stir frequently until soft and then add your crushed garlic and warm through for a few minutes, don’t let it burn or it’ll go bitter.
2. Once your onion is soft, add the passata and warm through. While it’s bubbling away gently, add the tomato purée, herbs, pesto (optional) and salt and pepper. To balance out any bitterness from the tomato add a good pinch of sugar to taste.
3. Leave to simmer gently for ten minutes or so, stirring frequently.

To serve as I have done, toss through some cooked spaghetti and serve with meatballs and a sprinkle of cheese. Alternatively layer into your lasagne, or cook for longer until it thickens a bit more and use as a pizza topping.

tomato sauce

This tomato sauce is incredibly versatile and I know that even if I serve it just with some plain pasta it will be a meal the small boy will devour in one sitting. As it’s made from tomatoes it is one of his five a day and is probably healthier than what I could buy in a jar.

tomato sauce

I like to use Cirio passata and purée where I can because of the quality of the tomatoes they use, you can tell by the colour, texture and flavour of the raw ingredient that anything you make with them will be tasty.

Note: I was sent some Cirio tomato products to try out in some of my recipes. All images, opinions and recipes are my own.

Books: Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family

I’ve always been a cook from scratch kind of girl, I love cooking and creating in the kitchen and my shelves heave with cook books. Despite all this sometimes my well of culinary inspiration runs dry. I was sent a copy of Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family by Zainab Jagot Ahmed to review, which is just as well, it was high time I spiced things up in the kitchen!

This colourful, hard-backed book contains 65 easy, nutritious recipes “inspired by” Indian cuisine for children aged 7 months to 5 years. We have a four year old, so we’ve well and truly passed the weaning stage, however Easy Indian SuperMeals contains a good 20 or so informative pages all about family nutrition and weaning.

Quite often I’m put off cooking Indian food because the list of ingredients is intimidatingly long, this isn’t really the case with this book, the recipes seem to be simple in both ingredients and method, they’re also quick, easy and nutritious. Each recipe introduction highlights the nutritional benefits of the meal. We’ve never been big fans of cooking different meals for different family members, what we cook we all eat, so having this nutritional information is beneficial.

Easy Indian SuperMeals

One of our favourite home made Indian recipes we cook quite often is Matter Paneer, so we chose this recipe to see if it met our usual standards. The recipe seemed slightly easier, with fewer ingredients, most of the recipes suggest leaving out salt and any spice and adding it to the adult food at the end of cooking, which we largely did, though at 4 he likes a little kick to his food.

As you can see from the pictures above, our meal looked like the picture in the book and it was a very good curry, better than our usual version. The recipes in Easy Indian SuperMeals do seem to contain lots of healthy vegetables, which is great for me as a veggie and I look forward to trying a few more recipes, such as the Bhindi Masala Curry and the Super Quick Bombay Potatoes.

My only criticism really is that I’d like each recipe to state how many of the five portions of fruit and vegetables a day they contain per portion. I know it’s fairly easy to work out, but an at-a-glance indicator would be useful to me as a mum.

It’s a great book for families who want to tantalise their toddlers taste-buds as well as for those wanting to spice up family meals. It’s the kind of book I’ll use every week, experiment with, lend to friends and splatter the pages with bits of my cooking. Recommended.

Note: I was sent a copy of Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.