Ever had that 5 minutes to six feeling? You know the one – where dinner is meant to be on the table in just 30 minutes and you have no idea what to cook and you forgot to go shopping anyway. It usually leads to a takeaway and £30 down the drain...
We have all been there. As busy parents and workers we all run out of time at the end of the day and cooking a meal can seem like a boring and thankless task. No one ever takes note of how long us family cooks spend putting a meal on the table and sometimes it can seem like hours. Well, there are plenty of options for meals which will take just a few minutes or can be prepared well in advance and frozen. Perfect for those times when Tesco is shut and you are exhausted.
- When you have the time and inclination to cook something a bit more extravagant – cook twice or even three times as much. This will work out cheaper in the end and will mean a hearty meal in just as long as it takes to reheat it. This method is perfect for spaghetti sauce, chilli, stews and soups. Then all you have to do is cook up the rice, pasta or potatoes and dinner is done. Ensure you freeze the leftovers within a few hours and chill the food quickly.
- Don't write off tins as a source of quick nutrition. Cans of beans are perfect for a quick meal and very inexpensive. The same goes for frozen vegetables. The nutrients are often preserved in the freezing process and so these can actually be better for your family than the fresh variety. And best of all no preparation.
- Home-made pizza is very easy and quick to make. Pre grated cheese, slices of ham and tomato and you have the topping sorted. Put all this on to a bought pizza base or even individual pitta breads and yet another quick and easy meal which kids will love.
- Wraps are brilliant for a healthy and quick meal. Get the kids to help you slice up some tomatoes, cooked chicken, peppers and cucumber and put out bowls of salsa and mayo. The whole family will enjoy making their own meals and you have pretty much avoided any cooking at all.
- The pre-cooked chicken at the supermarket are a great backstop and will last for two meals. When fresh you can simply add some salad and a baked potato and the next day shred the remaining chicken and mix with a few frozen veg and some boiled noodles for a great Chinese style meal. The supermarkets all sell jars of Chinese sauces or just a touch of sweet chilli and soy sauce can make a great alternative.
- In addition to all these ideas are the slow cooking options. If you invest in a slow cooker you can put your ingredients in in the morning and have a cooked meal to come home to in the evening. It will ensure that the meat is falling off the bone and incredibly tender and you will have the most relaxing day knowing it is all taken care of.
Yes cooking can be the most mundane of tasks around the home, but with a few staples in the cupboard and freezer you will never be without a a healthy option for the whole family.