Cooking healthy meals and having stress free tea times can
be difficult with young children, especially on weekdays.When they’ve been at school all day and walk
through the door hungry and tired, you need meals to be quick and easy to
prepare but also nutritious.
Birds Eye have a really good range of quick and simple tea
time solutions for those kind of days!We were invited to try out some of the range and use it in our after
school cooking to see what we thought.
The majority of the time we eat together as a family and we
all have the same on our plates.Whether
The Pickle eats it or not is a different story!He will not touch meat or most vegetables – apart from sweetcorn,
carrots and sugar snap peas.His staple
food is potato.Whether it’s mashed,
roast, wedges or Birdseye waffles.We do
keep introducing new foods to his plate but we try not to get too stressed if
he pushes it away – we know he eats plenty of fruit and cereal and he’ll grow
out of this phase eventually.Lots of
preschool aged children are fussy eaters and unless they are eating
particularly unhealthily or starving themselves, I don’t think there’s any need
to be too concerned!
We usually eat as soon as Daddy gets home from work, which
leaves plenty of time afterwards for homework, playing and relaxing before the
bed time routine starts.We have the TV
turned off and we all sit at the table, apart from one ‘treat’ evening a week
where we have a relaxed buffet style tea in front of a family film.It’s something we all really look forward to
After School Chefs
Getting the kids involved with cooking the family meals is a
great way for them to learn about what they are eating and how to prepare
healthy food.They also learn a lot more
than just how to cook.Preparing meals
together teaches them about hygiene and safety and it’s also good for
encouraging team work and helpfulness (The Pickle loves to go and search for
the ingredients in the fridge or freezer and recognises which food is which
from the packaging).Looking at labels, instructions
and recipes is good reading practise and counting out or weighing ingredients
teaches simple maths skills too!Most
importantly, cooking together can be great fun and usually The Princess and The
Pickle are more likely to eat a healthy meal if they’ve helped to make it themselves.
Our Desert Island Pizzas are a really simple and fun
idea.We used naan bread for the base
(pitta bread or similar would also be fine) as it saved time.If you wanted to make your own dough and have
time to do it earlier in the day you could leave it in the fridge so it’s ready
to roll out when you need it.
The kids were then let loose with tomato puree, home grown
tomatoes freshly picked from the garden, grated cheese and Birds Eye Field Fresh Supersweet Sweetcorn.We had kitchen roll on hand
so they could clean up any mess as they went (this helps them feel more independent
and also means there’s less mess to worry about at the end!)
We also used some Birds Eye Chicken Popstars and sugar snap
peas to make palm trees on the island and of course, a Mashtag sun!The finished product doesn’t need to look perfect, as long as the kids
have fun making it, but the presentation of this took minimal effort, so why
We served the pizzas with colourful raw chopped vegetables,
including peppers, sugar snap peas, celery and cucumber.Again, you could chop these earlier in the
day if you have time and pop them in the fridge for when you need them.Cutting the veg into interesting shapes with
small cookie cutters can make it much more appealing.We used ours to spell out words!
We also served up some Birds Eye Field Fresh mixed vegetables,
which are so easy to pop in the microwave just as you start serving everything
My top tips for the
after school tea time routine
Have a healthy snack ready for after school to kerb hunger until
tea time, but only something small so they are still hungry enough to eat their
If you have fussy eaters, try to be inventive with their
favourite food and gradually introduce different foods.For example, if they love mashed potato try
mashing some carrot or parsnip in with it.
Plan your weekly meals in advance so you’re not worrying
about what to cook each evening and searching the cupboards for
ingredients!Let the kids help you plan
the meals too.Maybe they could come to
the supermarket and each choose a few fresh ingredients to use.
Ready prepared vegetables, such as Birds Eye Field Fresh,
saves time and frozen veg also helps to keep the nutrients in!
Try to vary the menu each week – use new, different
ingredients alongside trusty favourites.
I’m a big fan of the slow cooker, especially through the
colder months.Pop some diced lamb,
carrots, onions and gravy in there in the morning and leave it to cook through
the day.Then all you need to do in the
evening is cook some boiled or mashed potatoes to go with it.Perfect for when you have to balance cooking
with after school activities too!
This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.