Tag Archives: lentil bolognaise

Saving my sanity by meal planning – simple family meals.

One of the things I am passionate about is making food simple. If you have time and can afford to be fancy with your meals then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Go for it. Normal life for my family in the week involves basic range ingredients, plenty of fresh and frozen veggies and quick meals.  So that is what I am sharing with you today.  Trust me, as a working single mum to 3 wonderfully active, inquisitive, helpful kids (you could read that as noisy, full of questions and chatter, like to stick their fingers where I don’t want them to) I need fast food. However I am wheat intolerant (the proper kind where eating wheat upsets my digestive system for several days) and my boy is lactose intolerance – which quite frankly sucks for him. So we have to cook from scratch. 

I aim to plan at the weekend. This sometimes involves a bit of “get ahead cooking” where I cook a few meals for Monday and Tuesday in advance, or it just comes down to a vague plan. Either way without a rough plan my head gets super stressed.

Family meal ideas for busy parents from a dietitian

“What am I cooking today? How will I fit it into my day? Do I have the ingredients?  Do I have time to get to the shop?”  These are questions that will float around my head taking up valuable time and energy. With a plan I’m part way there and will prep a bit throughout my day. That could mean I prep the veggies or even just get the ingredients out on the worktop so I can cook after the school run. It all helps.

So here is an example of our weeks meals and some of the recipes I cook. Simple things my children eat and that work with our dietary needs. I hope it gives you some inspiration.


One Pot Pepper Pasta:

This is one of those meals which I love to make as it is so easy, there is minimal washing up and my kids love it. WINNER.

It’s also a vegetarian, plant based and vegan recipe. So if you are looking for simple ways to increase your vegetable intake here you go. Of course you can totally make this your own and add in any veggies you like.


One Pot Red Pepper Pasta

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large red peppers Thickly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium courgette grated
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch dried mixed herbs
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 50g grated cheese


  1. Heat the oil in the pan, add the garlic and gently cook.

  2. Add in the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes

  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer. 

  4. Add the pasta and water, stir well and bring to a simmer.

  5. Lid on and simmer 12-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked.

  6. Season and serve with grated cheese. 

Fish Pesto Parcels:

These are so simple that I like to get my kids to make their own. That way they can’t moan about the veggies I’ve put in! 


Fish Pesto Parcels

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 400 g white fish (can be frozen and defrosted)
  • 2 carrots, chunkily sliced
  • 1/2 broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 courgette, chunkily sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thick slices
  • 4 tsp pesto
  • 12 small potatoes (if they are too large they will not cook in time so slice up using large potato)


  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7

  2. Lay out a square of foil big enough to pop everything in and seal up. About 1.5 times your dinner plate. 

  3. Place a selection of veggies and potatoes on the foil, top with the fish and spread 1 tsp pesto on top.

  4. Fold the foil parcel up so everything is covered and pop onto a baking tray.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes

Lentil Bolognaise:

A regular favourite for us and so versatile. You can use up your odds and ends of veggies, and make this into lasagne, cottage pie of as a bolognaise. It freezes super well too.

Recipe here.

Salmon and Broccoli Risotto:

Perfect weaning food and a great meal to get veggies into! I usually grate a courgette in to boost the veggies up.

Recipe here.

Pizza Wraps:

Literally the easiest thing on a Friday after school. I give the kids a wrap, squirt tomato puree on, they pile on toppings from a selection on a chopping board and we cook them for 10 minutes at Gas Mark 5. Do keep a close eye on them as they cook very quickly! 

Chicken Satay Stir Fry:

You can’t beat a stir fry for ease. My kids love peanut butter so satay is usually a winner. Totally use a frozen veg mix or a stir fry pack for ease if you want to. Serve with noodles or rice.

Recipe here

Sausages and wedges:

As much as I like to have some plant based meals in our week my kids are firm fans of sausages. I’ve been using some meat free variations out and they have been largely successful, plus easy to cook straight from frozen – so do think about the meat free range. No recipe as I literally cook the sausages in the oven, along with potatoes cut into wedges with olive oil and garlic on them. Serve with veggies! 

I hope these are helpful and give you some ideas on how to keep meals simple in your week. I’d love to hear your ideas too as I always need inspiration.

Lentil Shepherds Pie Jackets

Comfort food that is good for you? Yup it’s one of those type of recipes. I’m often recommended people eat more pulses and there seems to be a lack of knowledge about good ways to eat more of them. So if that is you…. here you go, a yummy recipe that makes lentils attractive to the family. 

These are vegetarian, wheat free and packed with the protein power of lentils plus plenty of fibre from the veggies. lentils and skins of the potatoes. The lentils also provide zinc, iron, B vitamins and folate. They will also lower the glycemic index of this meal, so you should feel fuller for longer and have better glycaemic control. Pretty much a winning dish.

Dietitian UK: Lentil Jackets-1

Trust me, my family looked at dinner and went “Oooooo that looks good mummy”. 

J boy eats lentil jackets

I love a jacket spud but sometimes you just want to go one better, but keep it healthy. Not so much a wow factor but a warm glow factor. 

This recipe uses an adaptation of my lentil bolognaise recipe, one of those recipes that you want to make double or quadruple of and freeze as it is so versatile.

Dietitian UK: Lentil Jackets 3

Lentil Shepherds Pie Jackets
Serves 4
Vegetarian, wheat free and an all round healthy family meal.
Write a review
619 calories
101 g
26 g
14 g
29 g
6 g
786 g
371 g
17 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 619
Calories from Fat 123
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g
Saturated Fat 6g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 26mg
Sodium 371mg
Total Carbohydrates 101g
Dietary Fiber 17g
Sugars 17g
Protein 29g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 4 medium potatoes
  2. 1 tbsp butter
  3. dash of milk
  4. 50g grated cheese
  5. 1tbsp olive oil
  6. 2 onions, diced
  7. 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  8. 3 large carrots, peeled and grated
  9. 2 large peppers deseeded and finely chopped
  10. 1/2 large or 1 small head and stalk of broccoli finely chopped
  11. 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  12. 200g red lentils
  13. 2 tbsp tomato puree
  14. 200ml water
  15. 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  16. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  17. 2 tsp soy sauce
  18. black pepper
  1. Wash, scrub and prick 4 medium potatoes. Put in the microwave for 10 minutes on high. Turn the oven to Gas Mark 5.
  2. Meanwhile: Grate/finely chop the veggies or even easier - put it in a food processor and blitz it to fine pieces.
  3. Heat the oil, pop the veggies in the pan and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Now add the chopped tomatoes, water and bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 40 minutes.
  7. Whilst it cooks, put the potatoes in the oven to continue baking.
  8. Once the potatoes are done (30 minutes or so), test them inserting a knife into them. Then cut in half and allow to cool and allow the lentil mixture to cool too.
  9. Scoop out the inside of the potatoes with a spoon, place the flesh in a bowl and mash with a little butter and milk.
  10. Fill the potatoes with the lentil mixture and place on a baking tray.
  11. Top with the mash and use a fork to spread it over. Sprinkle over the cheese.
  12. You can now leave the potatoes in the fridge until later or bake straight away at Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  1. Keep any left over lentil mix for the freezer or serve it on the side for hungry tummies.
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/