September always used to represent a new pencil case. Life seemed simpler then! Now it represents new beginnings for my family and lots of ‘new’ year’s resolutions for me.
If we write stuff down and share it with others we’re more likely to achieve it, so here’s me doing exactly that and if it helps you get your head in gear, feel more effective and ultimately stay sane, then great.
1) Use that fancy meal plan tear off pad every week
I’ve divided the meals I know generally work into categories: chicken, fish, shellfish, red meat, veggie and ‘I know I’m a dietitian but I’m only human’. Per week I then generally select 2 from the chicken list, one from the veggie, 2 from the fish, one from the shellfish and one from the red meat or ‘I know I’m a dietitian but I’m only human’ categories. Often when I do a mince dish it seems to go on forever so that might go over one or three meals but then we wouldn’t have red meat again for a week or so. This isn’t a fool proof plan by any stretch but I’m aiming to do it more regularly to prevent bashing my head against the fridge door.
2) Reassure myself I don’t need to shop in a health food shop or spend a fortune to feed my children well.
Some of the stuff I see on Insta makes me feel inadequate (both as a ‘chef’ and as a mother!) but there’s a lot to be said for the basics. I would say my priorities are to get fish into them (especially oily fish) because omega-3s are so vital for brain function – 40% of our brain cell walls are made up of them and a child’s brain grows to 80% of its size in the first 2 years of life. I definitely think we need to embrace pulses some more – for now they provide a fibrous addition to some popular chicken or sausage dishes such as Moroccan chicken or sausage and lentil stew but I would like to dish up some pulse only meals with confidence soon because plant based proteins are good for us!
Prawns are a new favourite of ours. Packed full of zinc so good for immunity which isn’t a bad thing as we head into a long winter term. Buying them frozen is ideal because they’re quick to defrost.
Roasting a chicken provides cost effective, endless opportunities. Chicken is also a great sandwich filler. So much better than ham which is lower in protein and higher in salt. And I think we’ve had as many ham sandwiches as we’ve had ice creams over the summer holidays.
I’ve got amazing children who eat everything and they request carrot sticks when they get home from school which makes me so happy. They hate chocolate and sweets and are constantly demanding to try new vegetables – oh wait hang on, did I drift off there for a minute? Sorry about that, back to reality.
3) Save chips and juice for the pub!
We still pretend that going to the pub is a fun as it once used to be so to increase the likelihood of finishing sentences I must admit I do save certain food options for these special occasions and I intend to keep this habit.
4) Dust off the slow cooker and use it more.
You can officially bung it all in which I love. Brown any meat you want to use or use leftovers but following that there are no rules! Reduced salt stock, tinned tomatoes, herbs or spices, any veg, pulses or fruit for natural sweetness and off you go. I’d like to use mine more, especially when I’m eating after the children have gone to bed and I don’t want to have to start cooking all over again.
5) Give broccoli a break.
I feel sorry for broccoli – I rely on him a lot. He cowers at the back of the veg drawer whispering, ‘pick someone else Laura, you had me last night and the night before. I know you can trust in me, but what about all my other mates don’t they deserve a chance’? Well yes broccoli you’re probably right. On a particularly joyous trip to the supermarket (our second in a week!) I was surprised to see my daughter select a red cabbage and then enjoy a strip of it raw with dinner (it was a thin strip mind but who cares!) So I intend to try new stuff – I don’t know until I try do I?
6) Accept that homemade fish fingers are more hassle than they’re worth.
I must make peace with this and I therefore pledge never to prepare a homemade fish finger again. I’m done with that, thanks Miss Karmel, the breadcrumb, egg mixture is quite gross and the end product is never gonna match up to what my children now consider to be the real deal.
When selecting breaded ‘processed foods’ pick those with a higher fish or meat content (at least 60% if you can) and remember that some of the fresh options which may have slightly higher percentages, can then be frozen.
I think a simple rule not to put two processed beige foods on the plate together can go a long way. So if it’s chips, I’ll put it with fresh fish, if it’s chicken pieces, I’ll put it with potatoes. And there’s always veg. They’re not a maybe they’re part of that meal and just as important as the fork you’re eating with.
7) Don’t get cross when someone else nicks my easy meal and if a meal hasn’t gone well, don’t bitch about it to the cat.
You know that feeling when someone else gets to feed your child the winner dish. The meal you know you can just dish up before strutting off, will full confidence that when you turn your head it will be being devoured. It’s a great moment so when someone else steals this opportunity it’s taken very personally because deep down inside we all know we can’t feed our children the ‘processed cr*p’ too often. I vow not to get too hung up on this and consider in a whole week what I achieved. Have they had something from each of the food groups and had a happy eating environment where they had a chance to taste their food and enjoy the meal?
My duty is to offer varied, healthy food. Sometimes it’ll go my way, sometimes it won’t. As Elsa would say, let it go. Pull back and plough on because eating is about a whole lot more than just the food.
There are 7 days in a week so that will do for now!