By Michela Chiappa
Feeding a family and quick food solutions go hand-in-hand. Whether it was a horrid traffic jam after the school run or picking the absolute slowest queue at the supermarket, there’s a reason we all love recipes that give us speedy solutions for our families.
Equally, as any any new mums or dads out there know, the kids’ sleeping-time is precious. They are usually very short windows of time, during which there are a million errands to squeeze in, which means that last thing you want is a recipe which ties you to the cooker and kitchen sink for a long period of time. You want a healthy meal but you need the prep time to be minimal, and as for the washing up… well, the more we can do to avoid that, the better.
So, here are a few of our winning “I’m running late but have kids with growling tummies to feed” recipes.
One of our ultimate favourite recipes is our Turkey hot pot – a filling one-pot meal with five minutes’ prep time and minimal washing up! Plus, it feeds baby, toddler and adults, all from one dish!
You need about 1-2 hours to let it simmer, but because the actual prep time is only a few minutes it’s a great one for freeing up time do get things done around the house. It’s also packed with great veg and nutrients, and the kidney beans provide plenty of protein to fill those bellies, so no need to faff around with extra side dishes.
Another great recipe for busy parents is our no-cook Butterbean & spinach puree, which can be whizzed up in seconds. Packed with brilliant nutrients, it’s a perfect solution for a hectic schedule and will stop you reaching for pre-bought baby pouches.
However, the really clever thing about this recipe is that it can be turned into a great pasta sauce for toddlers (and adults!). We would recommend adding a little flaked sea salt, black pepper (or grated nutmeg), toasted pine nuts, and a sparse grating of Parmesan before tossing through freshly-cooked pasta with a touch of olive oil – a delicious meal for all the family.
And finally, we absolutely LOVE our hearty Tuscan bean soup. It takes a little more time to prepare than the other two, but is so super simple that even the most inexperienced cook can give it a go.
You can watch us make this below.
We love this kind of dish, as it’s packed full of brilliant nutrients. It’s also another one where there’s no need to worry about extra sides – just find yourself a nice crusty loaf of bread to tear up and dip into those lovely juices.
This kind of dish will also serve as a superb blank canvas – tear in any leftover roast meats from the weekend to give some extra protein and texture (we love shredding leftover roast chicken just before serving it up). And, just in case you often find yourself with leftover roast meat to use up, below are a couple more of our recipes for using up leftover chicken!
One last tip: we like to make this dish in bulk, enjoy it with the family, and then freeze half for a rainy day (check out this guide to freezing, or for more ideas, this great collection of freezable recipes). Find yourself a good-quality large heavy-bottomed pan to cook bigger quantities in, too – they’re invaluable (we call ours our 4-in-1 pan), as you can use them to slow-cook a casserole, brown meat, cook a risotto, or simply boil a big pot of pasta.