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Eight ways to make your midweek meals marvellous

Award-winning family food bloggers Crumbs Food share eight easy ideas – from using smoked paprika to making the perfect pesto – to ensure your midweek meals are amazing. For more meal ideas from Crumbs Food, check out their Dinner Tonight videos.

  1. Use your bread

    Everything tastes better with breadcrumbs: Cauliflower cheese, lasagne, baked fish or even a chicken casserole. They add texture and make food even tastier. A sprinkle of breadcrumbs – mixed with Parmesan cheese or lemon rind if you are feeling snazzy – is an easy way to elevate a midweek supper into something just that little bit more special. Instead of throwing stale bread away just whizz it up in the food processor and put the crumbs in a bag in the freezer.

    Use your bread
  2. Go green

    Pesto is the whizz-kid of the family kitchen. Children love it, even though it's green! Shop-bought is good but homemade is even better. Pesto is great not-only stirred through pasta, but used instead of butter for cheese on toast, smeared on lamb chops, mixed with cream cheese as a dip, or simply enjoyed on its own with bread sticks. Make your own with our easy recipe.

    Go green
  3. No more tears

    Chopped onions are a gift to the time-pressed cook. If the only thing between you and a homemade Bolognese is chopping an onion, buy them. You will never look back. They come either in tins – ready cooked and beloved by top cooks – or frozen.

    No more tears
  4. Use more herbs

    We still have a tendency to use herbs as a garnish, but go anywhere in southern Europe and they take centre stage. Follow their lead and add chopped parsley, basil, dill and mint to your salads, sauces and stews. It is such a game changer and once you get in the habit, such an easy way to change the flavour of everyday staples. Don’t forget, they also go towards one of your five a day! Try this Sweetcorn and herb grain bowl, which is packed with fresh mint, basil, parsley and coriander.

    Use more herbs
  5. Smoking!

    Smoked paprika makes everything taste delicious. Sprinkle over shop-bought houmous to take it to another level, make your own Smoky ketchup, or add to eggs for a flavour-packed brunch. Like bacon, it makes everything taste better.

  6. Pimp your soup

    In some houses, soup doesn't make the grade for dinner. Why not embellish it with homemade cheesy croutons? Or try a poached egg, handful of tinned chickpeas, some rice noodles or some baby spinach, each of these store-cupboard ingredients will transform your soup into a delicious and hearty meal.

    Pimp your soup
  7. Cheat's white sauce

    Don't have time to rustle up a roux? Crème fraîche or Greek yogurt are both great alternatives. Just use them as you would a white sauce, or, as with this fish pie recipe, combine with stock, lemon juice and mustard, for a creamy, zingy sauce.

    Cheat's white sauce
  8. Use versatile vinegar

    Want to give your tomato dishes a bit more depth? Meat dishes need some sweetness? Just turn to a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Splash in at the end of cooking for a tangy sweetness, or add at the beginning for a richer, deeper flavour. Take a look at this Sicilian liver ragu for inspiration. 

    Use versatile vinegar