I know loads of people are glad to see the end of January. I’ve had a pretty nice month what with my birthday celebrations. I’m over the cold and wet though, my computer is slowly giving up the ghost and causing no end of time-wasting too. So this week, week 5 of my plans, I’ve chosen dinners that I can make with my eyes closed that will fit around a lot of dashing around.
I’m so pleased how many of you are cooking along and getting on board with one meal for the whole family. Please keep the pictures and messages coming. And if there are any particular meals you need help with just shout.
Remember you can find my previous meal plans and recipes here. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter so that you get them sent to you every two weeks. Book one of my UK or US classes if you’d like to learn some new skills, get inspired and become more confident in the kitchen this year.
Boys and their friends – Sausage and mash with carrots and broccoli.
Us – Crispy skinned salmon with massaged kale and roast butternut.
We had some leftover mashed potato and roasted carrots from our Sunday dinner so I squirrelled them away, knowing they’d make Monday dinner for the boys and their friends really easy. I always have sausages in the freezer – I stock up on the free range ones when they’re on special offer. We have them with mash, of course, but you’ll find them just as often being snipped with scissors into speedy meatballs with pasta.
On Monday I double up on small boys in the house so I have 4 of them to feed and get out of the door for Beavers. I snipped a pack of free range sausages – so we had 12 little sausages instead of 6 big sausages. I cooked them in the oven them for about 40 minutes and the threw some chopped broccoli in for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
I cooked extra broccoli because I know we’re having green mac and cheese tomorrow night and that broccoli will add some extra goodies to that dinner with no extra effort. Always thinking ahead in little ways like this – the mash and carrots from Sunday going into Monday. the broccoli from Monday going into Tuesday just makes things easier. One lot of prep, one lot of washing dishes but more than one meal.
We always eat later than the boys on Monday and after a weekend of treats I was craving salmon and lots of veg. I made this crispy skinned salmon with massaged kale and roast butternut. Get the recipe and cook along video here.
Tuesday – Green mac and cheese
Another mad dash as I’m working late and won’t have much time to cook. Pesto pasta isn’t anything groundbreaking, but by making your own pesto, you can pile in extra greens and ensure everyone has their veggie levels topped up.
I’ll use the leftover broccoli from last night with some defrosted frozen spinach and peas (another life-saver). While my pasta is cooking, I’ll add the green veg to the food processor with loads of basil, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan or mature Cheddar (look away Italians), lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. Once it is blitzed, I’ll taste it and work out if it needs more lemon then I’ll stir it through the pasta. This bit is soooo important so listen up – always keep a cup of the pasta cooking water and add it gradually to help the pesto and pasta mix together and form a smooth sauce. The starch from the cooking water helps make the sauce smooth and creamy. Find my pesto recipe here.
Leftover pesto is gorgeous on toast with a poached egg for breakfast.
Wednesday – Swimming, soup and sandwiches
Swimming night and we’ve also thrown a 6pm doctors appointment into the mix to make the evening even more relaxing! So instead of the temptation to head for a drive-thru, I’ll grab some soup from the freezer in the morning, heat it and put it in wide-mouth flasks. I’ll make cream cheese and avocado sandwiches on our favourite seeded Vogels bread to dunk.
I’ll have the same soup with avocado toast and a large glass of wine after they go to bed.
These flasks are such a lifesaver for eating on the go. They are wide necked so I use them for soup, pasta or stews. They keep food hot (or cold) for hours so I usually make the boys picnic when I’m making my own lunch. You can buy them here in the UK or here in the US.
Right now our freezer is stocked with Julie’s lentil, carrot and tomato soup. It is the easiest soup to make and is packed with veg and lentils so it keeps everyone full and packs in the protein. I’ve been sharing this recipe (my Mum’s recipe really) for years and love how many of you make this too. Make a big pan and freeze it in individual servings and you’ll always have an easy dinner or lunch to hand. Here’s the recipe.
Thursday – Birthday dinner for my boy
My big boy turns 8 today. I get really wobbly on his birthday, it feels like yesterday that I was getting to grips with buttoning his fat little thighs into a sleep suit and spending hours trying to get him to say my name. Now he’s so grown up and I feel like most of my time is spent saying ‘hurry up’ and nagging him and his brother. And I bet in another 8 years I’ll be looking back at how sweet he is now with tears in my eyes. It is so true what people say about the days being long but the years being short.
Before I get too maudlin, let’s be positive! I think we’re past the madness of having 20 children racing around the house high on sugar for birthday parties as he’s asked to go with 3 friends for a jump at the trampoline park after school, followed by pizza at the lovely new place that has opened near us – Wood Fire Smoke. Much more simple and no washing or tidying for me after – just the treat I need to celebrate 8 years of being a mum.
If you need an idea of something to make tonight, take a look at my other meal plans.
Friday – Baked cod with smoked paprika and tomato sauce, crispy potatoes, greens and aioli.
This is a recipe I taught in my cooking classes a couple of years ago. If you always order patatas bravas when you go for tapas then this is for you. Like lots of the recipe I teach I go through a phase of making them loads and then forget about them. Rather than always reinventing the wheel, I’m making a point of rediscovering some old favourites this year. This sounds quite fancy but it is a really simple dinner – posh enough to serve friends at the weekend but also perfect for a mid-week family meal. My boys love it as it is basically fish and chips with tomato sauce.
If the aioli is bothering you – don’t panic. I use really nice bought mayo rather than making my own. The fish is chucked in the oven, as are the sliced potatoes and greens.
Saturday – Out for my mum’s birthday
I know it looks like we’re out a lot these last few weeks but everyone in my family with the exception of my husband and youngest son has a birthday within 2 months. So tonight we’re celebrating my mum’s birthday at one of our favourite restaurants, Hispi.
Sunday – Spinach and mushroom lasagna – plus another one for the freezer
I’ve played around with this spinach and mushroom lasagne recipe a few times. It isn’t quite there but as soon as I crack it I’ll post it. Even though it isn’t perfect yet, it is still a great comforting dinner. I’ll make two lasagnas at the same time and freeze one, uncooked for another day. One lot of prep, one lot of washing and shopping and two meals is always a win in my book.
How I’ll share my meal plans and recipes this year
I hope you’ve found my family meal plan week 5 useful. I’ll share my next meal plan and recipes next week on here so watch out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and be sure to sign up here for my twice-monthly newsletter.
Over the weeks you’ll start to see patterns of how my plans work so that you can start making your own plans with the recipes and meals you love. Some of the recipes will be from my site, others will be going into my book.