The washing machine is waiting to be unloaded, the ironing is piling up, homework is causing tears and the little ones are squabbling over toys – sound familiar? It is the weekday evenings that we all know far too well. As the madness of life with children goes on around us, we often find it difficult to find the inspiration – not to mention the time and patience- to cook intricate and time-consuming meals.
We don’t want to reach for the fast-food menus or pre-packaged meals because feeding our families well is important to us all. I have discovered that a lack of time does not need to mean a lack of nutrition, taste or quality. Here are a few of the meals in minutes that I fall back on when everything just seems to be getting a little too much!
1. Stir Fry
Nothing could be easier and yet healthier than this weekday classic. It is so adaptable and versatile that you could serve it several days in a row and not encounter moaning about boredom! Slices of chicken or beef steak work well as they cook nice and quickly. Toss in thin slices of whatever veggies you have in the fridge, add soy sauce, salt and pepper and a few spices and you have a filling meal in seconds. Serve with rice or noodles and dinner will be sorted before you know it.
2. Baked Salmon
This is one of those meals that comes with low input and high output. Baked salmon is quick and easy yet tasty and impressive. Your creativity and flavour pairings are the key here. Take pieces of foil, add a little oil and lay the salmon skin side down onto the foil. And now you’re ready to play top chef! Top the salmon with the flavours of your choice – a slice of lemon, a spoon of pesto, slices of bell pepper or even chilli sauce. The options really are endless. Add some quick cook veg like green beans or asparagus before folding the foil to make a parcel. Pop into the oven for fifteen minutes and you have a feast to put on the table and smiling faces to greet it.
3. Tuna Pasta
A can of tuna can be a saving grace when you are stuck for time. It goes well with spaghetti, tagliatelle or fusilli pasta as it is small enough to cling to the pasta and offer taste in every bite. Tomato sauce and cheese offer a quick and easy sauce. Peas and sweetcorn also add some nutritional value.
4. Baguette Pizzas
These are always a winner at our table, and the children love being able to get involved in the making of them (when I have time to allow them to). Slice crusty baguettes in half (and they don’t even need to be that fresh, so this doubles as a great way to avoid waste) and pop the crusty side under the grill to brown. Take out from under the grill and top the flat side with tomatoes, cheese, cooked meats, tuna, veggies etc, before putting back under the grill to melt the cheese and warm the other additions. Serve with some salad and homemade tomato or mayo and you have the perfect weeknight treat with extraordinarily little effort.