Hands up if cooking is often a chore rather than a pleasure? Yep, me too! But the thing is I really like food, and it won’t magically appear unless I cook it. So I figure cooking is a necessary evil if you want to eat! With that in mind I am always looking for simple, easy mid-week recipes that don’t take long to prepare but are packed with flavour. Enter my secret weapon: Dukkah! This tasty collection of spices can elevate any meal. And what’s more, two out of my three kids like it, so I am calling that a WIN! I am going to show you 4 easy ways with Dukkah. These are my “go-to” dishes at the moment and I hope they will become yours too :-)…
Meal times can be a stressful experience with young children. Give your child peas instead of corn and the emotion that surfaces can be quite spectacular. The evening power battles are endless. Before having children, I never imagined getting them to eat a variety of nutritious and delicious food would be such an effort, and often an ordeal.
I grew up in a family of five daughters. Life was busy (and noisy) but we always came together for the evening meal. Our dinners weren’t just meals, they were occasions. Food was something to be excited over, and to be appreciated. I am now trying to encourage the same family meal experience with my own children. Recently I came up with an idea to make mealtimes more fun, because one thing I’ve learnt as a parent is: the more fun a child has, the more open they are to trying new things. And the less stressed I am as a parent!
How to make mealtimes more fun
The midweek meals jar
They say no two children have the same personality and it appears no two children have the same palette, too. I have three children and do you think they all like the same food? Not a chance. Consequently, each of my children has different “favourite foods.” Tired of the whining over whether I boil, roast or mash the spuds, I developed an idea where each child will get their favourite meal once a week. I started this recently and it’s been a big hit.
What you need
- Mason jars. Jars are not just for jam; just take a look at Pinterest for infinite ideas. For this activity you’ll need one empty jar or perhaps two – one for savoury and one for dessert.
- Bamboo forks and spoons. You can purchase these online or from party suppliers. Alternatively you could just use paddle sticks, which are readily available from craft shops.
- Washi tape. This lovely patterned tape has many versatile uses. I have a truck load of it and use it for all sorts of craft activities. Of course you don’t need to use it, and it may not be the most attractive table centerpiece, but kids love colour!
- A sharpie.
How it works
The concept is simple to create. Make sure you involve your children in the set up. It’s fun, and also helps with meal planning for me.
Ask each child to nominate his or her favourite meal (or better still, 2 or 3 ideas). I allowed my kids one healthy choice and one that was more of a “sometimes” meal, like fish ‘n’ chips. I asked them each to choose a dessert too, although desserts are not a regular feature of our meals. Weekends only. Once you are satisfied that everyone has had a voice in the family (don’t forget mum and dad) you can then write the meals down on the bamboo forks with your sharpie, or even better, ask your kids to do it. The more involved they are in the process, the more fun they’ll have, and the more fun they have, the better the outcomes. This is a simple equation and easy to follow for even for the most mathematically challenged mama!
Pop the jar in the middle of the dinner table. At the end of each dinner, ask someone in the family to pick a fork from the jar for the following night’s dinner. It may not be their “favourite” meal, but this way they learn about fairness and that their favourite will be drawn at some stage.
Try this at home. It’s fun, simple, cheap and eliminates the dreaded, “What am I going to cook for dinner?” scenario of witching hour. And you should see how happy they get when they actually do pick their favourite fork!
*Depending on your repertoire and meal rotation frequency you may need a bigger jar. I don’t have many ideas so we’re on a weekly rotation at our house!
What are meal times like at your place? Do you have any tips or tricks to help ease the stress of dinnertime? Please share your wisdom, or war stories. All welcome!!
I love the way the seasons change how we eat. It’s winter here in Australia and we are enjoying lots of soups and tagines. I think soup is the ultimate comfort food in the colder months. Served with some crusty bread, it’s perfect for lunch or dinner and it it’s an instant mood booster. This zucchini soup is one of our favourites, which is amazing as the kids are not too keen on green vegetables most of the time. Try this one. It’s a winner!…
If you loved playing with clay or playdough as a kid, you’ll love decorating with fondant as a grown up! You can roll it, cut it, dye it, and form it into just about any shape. And it’s perfect for creating fancy kids’ birthday cakes. Fondant is fun! It’s not without its pressure points but the key is to enjoy the process and get your kids involved. I’ll show you how to decorate with fondant for beginners. But be warned, fondant is addictive. Once you start decorating with this gorgeous icing, you won’t look back….
I am thrilled to bring you this guest post by Jessica Donovan from Energetic Mama. Jessica is passionate about educating parents on nourishing their children with real food, helping to boost their health and heal naturally. It was 6pm on a weeknight. I had been in the kitchen from the moment we got home from school. It wasn’t intentional but I am sure you understand how easily the kitchen can swallow you up as soon as you set foot in it. So I had emptied lunch boxes, unpacked the dishwasher, done a load of dishes and because the kids were happily playing I took the opportunity to pack tomorrows lunches and get started on dinner. Well the next minute it was dinner time and I simply asked Mr 7 to feed the dog and Miss 5 to set the table….
We have a few rituals in our family. Sundays are typically SLOW SUNDAYS, where we take a break from the hectic pace of the week. I try not to schedule in anything on this one day of the week. It’s all about family time and I love it! We begin the day with a fresh fruit smoothie. My girls are reasonably good at eating fruit but I like to top them up on the weekend and a smoothie is the perfect way to do this. We’ve had this ritual for as long as we’ve been parents and it gets us off on the right foot for the day. The blender we received as a wedding gift, eight years ago, has come to the end of its natural life. It had a good innings so I was not sorry to see it go. Instead I was DELIGHTED to welcome the George Foreman Mix & Go PRO into the kitchen and into my family….
If you’re after a sweet treat that the kids and adults will love, look no further. These white chocolate blondies tick all the boxes, but be warned – they won’t last long! You can add a handful of frozen raspberries or blueberries to the mix or any nuts if allergies aren’t an issue. I am a chocolate lover and usually prefer dark chocolate recipes, but in some cases, blondes really do have more fun!…
Sunburst Coconut Cake: a beautiful moist cake infused with coconut.
If you’re after a quick, simple, delicious cake that the kids are guaranteed to love, look no further. I have the perfect recipe for you, courtesy of Sunburst. This scrumptious coconut cake ticks all the boxes: – It’s moist, yummy and doesn’t need an icing so in my books that makes it healthy 🙂 – The recipe has only a few ingredients, making it affordable and simple to follow. – Degree of difficulty is ‘EASY’. That’s a win! – The kids can easily help in the kitchen. – The sunburst spread is palm oil free so that’s good news for the orang-utans. – 5 cents of every purchase goes to Orangutan Foundation International Australia….
This is one of my favourite pasta recipes. It’s simple, fresh and tasty. PLUS all my kids eat it. They don’t even realise I put a few sneaky anchovies in it. If you’re not a fan, leave them out. The best thing about this recipe is the sauce same cooks in the same time it takes the pasta too cook. So dinner can be prepared, cooked and served in about 20 minutes. My kind of dinner! Put this on your weekly/fortnightly rotation….
Long-time readers of my blog will know I have a sweet tooth. I have chocolate, in some form, every day. Every. Single. Day. I also love cookies so naturally a choc-chip cookie is my obvious choice. I’ve tried a few recipes over the years but recently I found one that kicked the others to the curb….