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Keep it cool

Recipe by Sara Gibbings

Eating well is always important to eat well but you have young kids and have a fulltime job, you’re often so tired in the evenings that you want a quick and easy option- a bacon sarnie, a bowl of cereal or even worse, phone for take-out or nuke a ready-made meal in the microwave.

photo 1

But if you do this on a regular basis, not only will you be missing out on a wide range of nutrients, you’ll be overloading your system with sugars, salt, additives and preservatives.

That is no good for toddlers and young kids who are developing at a fierce rate, both physically and mentally. And it is no good the parents either, who need to boost their immune systems, as they are probably aren’t sleeping as much as they should and are usually pretty stressed.

I love good food and I love cooking, but I also want to spend as much time as possible with my kids in the evenings so every three weeks I have a massive cooking session where I make my own delicious and nutritious ready meals which I then tupper and freeze to use during the week.

I have a weekly meal plan printed and put up on the fridge to help ensure that a) we all eat a balanced diet over the course of the week and b) everyone knows what the kids should be eating in case I’m at work, filming late, etc… Of course it’s just a guide; we can change things around as much as want but it’s really helpful to have a starting point.

After I make my meal plan, I write the shopping list on my Cozi App (so the whole family can see and use it), then I plan the most efficient way to cook that set of meals. I usually cook the ingredients separately then combine to make the dishes. The last things I make are the sauces. It usually takes me about 5 -6 hours to do the whole lot.

My kids (aged 3 and almost 2) are great eaters and as we made sure to introduce strong flavours into their diets from a very early age, they now love dishes with garlic, ginger, mild chili, herbs and spices.

To maximize nutrients I steam the veg and use the water to make the stock for sauces. I also try to use energy efficiently; my steamer is multi-layered and when I use the oven I’ll make several things.

My kids love pizza (who doesn’t?) but I make my own rather than feed them junk. Their favourite is chicken and cheddar. I put broccoli, courgette and peppers in the tomato sauce so it’s really healthy as well as being delicious. I cut the pizzas into quarters, wrap and freeze-a slice is a perfect mid afternoon snack.

While the oven is on, I’ll bake potatoes and sweet potatoes and if there is time, I’ll make a loaf or cake with fruit. We all love banana bread, sticky apple cake and cheese scones. I bake every week, but usually only on weekends as by the time the kids go to bed, I’m too tired in the week.

Once the food is made, spoon into individual meal size tupperwares, seal properly and label. Leave to cool down completely before freezing. I usually make 4 portions of each meal and make sure to pack as much veg as possible into everything.

They store for up to three months but never last that long!

photo 2 This week I made:

Macaroni Bolognese
Mexican rice with steak
Meatballs in tomato sauce.Chicken and vegetable Cous Cous
Chicken Cottage Pie
Chinese Style Chicken and RiceFish Pie
Cheesy Pasta with Salmon
Fishy noodles

Pasta al Pesto (with heaps of spinach)
Sweet Potato and carrot mash
Twice baked potatoes

Sticky Apple Cake
Chicken and Cheddar Pizza

We would love to receive your recipes and photos so please send them to us at production@padiproductions.com and we will publish one every Friday.

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