I’ve always wanted to have the kind of family that sat down together at night and shared dinner.
I always pictured my family around a large table filled with delicious food, lots of laughter, chatter and the unquestioned consumption of salads.
Sometimes that happens, if I’ve had a day off work and had time to make delicious food, if all three children are in a simultaneous good mood, if my husband makes it home from work in time to join us and if the salad is made of potatoes.
But more often than not it’s a bit of a struggle – but I’ll never give up on that perfect picture in my head.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by SodaStream. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
As the kids get older it happens more often and my determination to be that family pays off. It all comes down to some well-honed skills I’ve developed to make it all happen exactly as I want it to happen.
They’ll thank me one day.
So here are 5 ways to make your family meals work for you, and for your kids, that will ensure the food is delicious, affordable, and healthy and goes really well with your favourite wine. You’re welcome.
1. Make more than one dish – but ones that complement each other.
A simple way to cater for different tastes each night is to cook more than one dish. At the same time, make sure they can all be eaten together. An example is the humble casserole. I make the casserole and then I make a couple of side dishes to go with it. Normally I make rice or mashed potatoes, quinoa or even just yummy, crunchy bread.
My husband and I will eat the entire casserole with a side of our choice. We also love our wine, so we always try to choose a drop that complements the meal we are eating that night, although we are particular fans of a glass of rich and delicious pinot noir. The kids are less fussy, and are happy to drink flavoured sparkling water with any meal.
Our oldest will eat the rice or mashed potatoes with casserole sauce only, our middle child who is incredibly fussy will have plain rice or bread (sigh) and our youngest will have a little bit of everything, as long as none of it is touching.
The beauty of this is that you will have lots of leftovers which makes for healthy snacks the following day and it has the added bonus of saving you money, as you won’t be buying expensive and unhealthy pre-packaged snack foods. And as the kids tend to be quite fussy eaters, I make the ingredients they do eat count. I buy organic whenever I can and always try to cook according to what’s in season, using the freshest produce I can find. I also like to try out new recipes and methods often – you never know, the kids might love them.
2. Make meals easily adaptable.
All kids love spag bol, but isn’t it nice to have a pasta meal that is a little more sophisticated, and that parents and children can enjoy together? Enter the spaghetti sauce that goes with any pasta.
Make one sauce, but cook two types of pasta. You can make the sauce in bulk once a week and thaw it out when needed, which keeps you organised and saves time on weeknights. Then boil up good old spaghetti and maybe some nice, fresh ravioli as well. Mix the sauce into both and offer everyone both.