It’s the family dream isn’t it – all sat around the table, enjoying a huge, homemade meal every night. These days, we’re often too busy day-to-day to even think about what’s for tea until last minute and then you don’t end up having the best choice of meal. Most families struggle to sit down on a free day like a Sunday to enjoy a scrumptious Sunday Roast now. So with that being said, I wanted to share my tips with you to create gorgeous homemade meals for all the family, but are quick to make and don’t take too much thinking about.
A bit of background…
Way back when Steven and I moved in together we got into some bad habits. Our meals usually consisted of pizza and salad – we were in our twenties and enjoying the freedom of our first home and our own meals. We started to cook some recipes a couple of times a week but I remember getting home from work at 6.30pm, starting to prep, cook and finally eat our meals at 8pm, wash up by 8.30pm. It was all a bit too late and I just felt like my whole evening was cooking, just so we could enjoy a fresh meal. The game-changer for us was when the Body Coach first released his book, we were introduced to so much flavour, and quick meals. It made such a difference – I was free from 7.30pm wahoo.
Years went by, and things were thrown up in the air again when our little girl was born – routine was out of the window, feeling like there’s no time to cook or do regular house things like clean and tidy. Six-months later and she started eating food with us too. Now was the time to get ourselves into an easy routine again, to make easy meals, that are healthy for both us and Sophia. I feel like we’re in a good place with this now, I love cooking (as you may have seen on my Instagram stories), especially when it’s easy so I don’t have to cook with a toddler around my leg ha. I get the most enquiries on Instagram about the recipes and food I make, so I hope this blog helps you to cook healthy and easy family meals and start to enjoy it…
Choose a day in the week to do some planning. Mine is Thursday, where I note down what meals I’m going to have next week and then organise a shop delivery for the Sunday ready for the week ahead. Online shopping is the way forward, no more aimlessly wandering the shop picking up random items, trying to think of meals in your head and spending more than you need.
Fantastic – the meal takes ten minutes to make but you’ve got to cut all this veg and measure out all these spices first… thirty minutes later, you can start cooking and the ten minute countdown. Going for recipes that have fewer ingredients is a good idea – one book I love is Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients – Quick and Easy Food. All recipes in here do not lack flavour, they’re all so tasty and yet it’s so easy to manage just five ingredients. I definitely use this book when I have a busy week. See some of my favourite recipes from it at the bottom of this blog.
If you have a bit more time one day, why don’t you batch cook some meals to freeze for those days when you can’t plan? Or make bigger meals and freeze a few portions – you would have a freezer full in no time. Jamie’s Super Food Family Classics is a good book as there’s a section in there on batch cooking… and it’s yummy stuff! I’ve made homemade chicken nuggets, jumbo fish fingers, 7-veg pasta sauce, thai green curry paste and my own pesto – all from this book and all useful things to have in the freezer.
TRAY-BAKES OR ONE-PAN DISHES
Traybakes have been a life-changer for me on busy days. On the days that I work, usually my routine would be to get home, bath Sophia, read a few stories, put her to bed and then start tea – again, it would be 8.30 until I’m eating again. So I’ve found traybakes are a good way to cut a few quick ingredients, throw them in the oven for an hour while you do the whole bath/bed routine or even just sit on the couch for an hour, and when you’re all done the tea is ready.
Similar to tray-bakes, quick one-pan dishes are easy too and limit the amount of washing up. You can’t beat a quick stir fry or rice dish, all made in one pan. Easy peasy. I think the Body Coach is renowned for these sorts of dishes – Thai Beef Stir Fry is an old favourite.
I also enjoy using our slow cooker for some recipes and a soup maker to create fresh and tasty homemade soups – it just needs a bit of planning (and storage in your kitchen). Chilli Con Carne is a family favourite in the slow cooker and we usually prepare this when having breakfast before work, so it’s all ready for when we get home.
Probably the biggest life-changer – I’ve tried Gousto, Hello Fresh and Abel and Cole subscription boxes and to be honest, Gousto is my favourite mainly because of the tasty recipes, the easy app and the fact that you can get one-off boxes as that suits me to not do EVERY week. The benefits to a subscription service include:
- No waste
- No measuring spices
- Fresh food
- Still feels like cooking from scratch
- Trying new and different recipes
- Keeps us having sensible portions
- Choice to have quick teas, healthy teas, hearty teas, ‘takeaway feel’ teas – whatever suits you each day
My favourite books
Here are my favourite and well-used books and recipes that I use regularly to create our weekly meal plans:
- The Body Coach Lean in 15 ‘Shift’ – Thai Beef Stir Fry, Bad-Boy Burrito, Sag Aloo with Chicken
- The Body Coach Lean in 15 ‘Shape’ – Cheeky Chicken Katsu, Peppered Steak with Sweet Potato Chips, Naughty Steak Burrito with Pineapple Salsa
- The Body Coach Lean in 15 ‘Sustain’ – Chicken Shish, Smoky Joe Burger and Wedges, Chicken and Prawn Paprika Noodles
- Cooking for Friends and Family, Joe Wicks – Grilled Prawn and Halloumi Salad, Chicken & Mozzarella Salad with Warm Tomato Dressing, Lamb Madras Curry
- Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredients Quick and Easy Food – So Easy Fish Curry, Banging Beef Stew, Messy Meatball Buns, Italian Seared Beef, Herby Chicken Traybake and many more (struggled to pick here)
- Jamie Oliver’s Super Food Family Classics – Super Shepherd’s Pie, Bacon Bits, Rosemary and Balsamic Pasta, the different variations of Avocado on Toast, all the batch cooking section
When Sophia was younger, I also used Holly Willoughby’s Truly Scrumptious Baby – that was a great book with a guide to weaning and some yummy recipes for little tums. I also use the Asda Groceries app for recipes as it’s really easy to add all ingredients to your basket when completing your online shop – there’s a few Joe Wick’s and Tom Kerridge recipes on there. And when I’m feeling like I use Jamie and Joe a bit too much (haha) and I’m trying to be good, I branch out to my Mediterranean cookbook, a low-carb cookbook or one of my old Weight Watcher books.
Anyway, I could talk about food all day….I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and you are able to find that good balance between cooking fresh meals but not being a slave to the kitchen. Please let me know if you have by commenting below or giving me a little like. I’d like to create some weekly meal plans soon that you can download – let me know if it’s something you’d like to see.
Happy 2020 everyone!