Tag Archives: meal planner

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.

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One Pot Red Pepper Pasta

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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! 

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Fish Pesto Parcels

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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.

Meal Planning: make life simpler, smarter and sustainable.

Every now and again I get myself into a bit of a stressful state, life feels like it’s overtaking me, I have lists of things to do, nothing feels like it’s getting done and suddenly I realise I’ve no idea what we’re eating for dinner and am running low on food. DISASTER. You know that feeling?

Hilariously as a dietitian I am often found writing meal plans for others, but then I forget to write my own. OOOPS. I love recipes, food, cooking, meal ideas and all that jazz, so actually for me sitting down and planning out the meals for the week is a relaxing and fun thing to do, it means I have time to think through the week, flick through some recipe books, bring those food ideas to the front of my brain and at the end of it I have at least one part of life under control.

Here’s mine for the next 2 weeks, I’d love to see yours!

Dietitian UK: Meal Planner
Dietitian UK: Meal Planner

5 Reasons to Meal Plan:

  1. SAVE TIME in the long run. Half an hour planning means you won’t be stood in the kitchen later racking your brains for a meal idea.
  2. Use it as a chance to check the BALANCE of your weeks meals, see the tips below.
  3. SAVE MONEY by then planning your shopping list so you don’t end up with random ingredients that you don’t need.
  4. SAVE WASTE by using all the ingredients in your fridge and planning it so you can take leftovers for lunches or fill the freezer.
  5. SAVE STRESS. Having a plan helps my stress levels, I can plan the quicker meals for busy days and know what I’m doing from day to day.

5 Top Tips for Balance over the week:

  1. Meat free Monday: Plan in some meat free days, we usually have 3-4 a week.
  2. Fishy Friday: Aim for fish a couple of times a week, oily fish contains those heart healthy omega 3’s.
  3. Reduce the Red Meat: to just 1-2 times a week.
  4. Veggie Vitality: Eat a range of colourful veggies over the week.
  5. Treats ¬†Ahoy: Keep that takeaway or those chips to planned times, so they don’t appear on the menu too often.

Get planning those meals and please share – I’d love to hear how you do things and what meals you include.