We know sometimes it can be a struggle to know how to feed the family. After three meals a day, every day (plus snacks!) and hungry kids to negotiate, it can be tricky to feel inspired. Whether you’re missing school dinners, struggling with kids boredom eating or cooking more than you usually would and running out of ideas, we’ve heard your problems and have got the tips to help you get through.
Try setting up the kids with their own box of snacks at the start of each day – they can it eat all but it has to last the day, and once it’s gone it’s gone. This helps you keep an eye on what they are eating, gives the kids a bit of control over when they want to eat and stops them raiding the cupboards of your food supplies without you knowing, so you can spread out your food shops. Add healthier homemade snacks such as pear crisps or banana chips alongside their treat favourites.
Use a quieter weekend to plan ahead for the week so that you don’t face the decision of what to make for dinner every night at the end of a long day. Dinners don’t have to be elaborate – try and ensure a simple balance of protein, veg and carbs but don’t overthink it. Get the family involved in planning so you’re all agreed on what’s coming up and you don’t have to cook multiple options for different family members. We’ve got plenty of wallet-friendly meal plans to help get you started.
Whether you cut sandwiches into stars, bake bread shaped like bunnies or cook a cake made of spaghetti, making cooking fun means it feels less of a chore for everyone. When you can’t go out to eat, turn home into a restaurant – get the kids to make place settings and write menus, dress up as fancy waiters and call your dishes fancy names.
Get the kids to help with the cooking – this particularly helps introduce younger children to new vegetables or flavours that they are more likely to try if they have made themselves. Children can have a go at rolling homemade pizza dough, tearing lettuce for a salad, stirring batter, mashing veg or juicing citrus. Baking is a fun activity to do together and keep children busy – use their favourite toys to make a batch of dinosaur biscuits or go super colourful with rainbow unicorn drops.
Save yourself time and energy and skip cooking different meals for the adults and children in the family. Tweak your own favourites so that everyone can enjoy and look for the easy wins such as reducing spices in a curry or swapping strong cheeses for mild. You can dial the flavour back up for the adult version of classics – drizzle burgers with chilli sauce instead of ketchup and add strong pickles to fish finger sandwiches.
If you’ve got fussy eaters to feed all day, add extra vegetables to their favourite meals. Try adding cooked diced carrot to baked beans, blitzing veg into soup or fruit into smoothies, making healthy frittatas or adding chopped mushrooms to homemade burgers. Pasta bakes are a familiar place to add veg – this hidden-veg Bolognese recipe is full of carrots, courgettes and tomatoes. Lunchtime sandwiches can be more than basic cheese – in these green cheese and turkey roll-ups, peas and spinach are blitzed into a vibrant sandwich spread or add a layer of spinach or tomatoes to cheese toasties.
Are you missing the kids having school dinners? Lunchtime doesn’t have to be a headache – we’ve gathered10 lunches for kids to keep you inspired and help keep it interesting. From batch bakes you can make ahead and freeze to last the whole week, to simple sweet snacks. Lunch doesn’t have to involve cooking, our kid’s lunchbox ideas gives you tips on easy ways to make simple sandwiches fun.
Don’t beat yourself up! The bigger picture of what your kids eat over time is more important than every day being a pinnacle of health. Providing meals for the family three times a day, every day, is an achievement in itself and everyone needs the occasional treat or cheat.
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