Monday, 29 September 2014

Stress-free back to school meals for #Afterschoolchefs

How time flies! My baby is not a baby anymore, just look at him, he started Reception this month. My heart aches every time I leave him behind in his class. Being a July baby, he's one of the youngest kids in his class, and the school day is way too long. I wish the school day was shorter for children his age, whoever thought that 9am to 3pm is a good idea for little people?!

It is difficult for me to monitor what he had for lunch at school. I do have a school menu to see what they serve for lunch, but my fussy eater often refuses to eat what is on offer. I was hoping that he'd be influenced by the other children tucking in their meals, but I will probably soon give up and just send him to school with a lunch box, at least then I'd know exactly what he has eaten.
In the meantime, both of my guys come home hungry. Eddie, because he hasn't eaten much, Sasha, because he's almost a teenager, as tall as me, and needs more fuel to keep him going.
These first few weeks of school have been quite stressful. We all need to readjust to our new routine, and mornings are structured by minute, when we eat, dress up, brush teeth etc etc. The difficult part is to make my guys have breakfast as they are still too sleepy to have an appetite, and I have to remind them that they should hurry up and eat, the usual "we don't have all the time in the Universe" motto.
As soon as they arrive from school, I give them something hot to eat, and most of the time they want French fries, fish fingers or Smiles, basically something I can chuck in the oven to be cooked fast.
Eddie loves peas, and is happy to have them any time.

This is also something Eddie can help me with, by choosing his plate, setting the table and giving me "instructions": "Mama, is food ready yet? Did you remember to switch the oven on?"
Birds Eye is probably best known for peas and fish fingers, yet their range of ready meals is forever expanding to please any discerning taste.
I might be a foodie, and enjoy cooking most of our meals from scratch, but I use frozen products as well. It is very handy to keep a couple of packets in the freezer. If I had a bigger freezer,I'd keep more of their products, but my freezer is packed full with the berries from our garden as well as ice cream, so it's usually Birds Eye peas, fish fingers and Rice Fusion vegetable rice that I have in stock.

Rice Fusions are great for a quick soup, or added to halved sweet pepper and roasted.

BritMums recently asked parenting bloggers to share their strategies and tips on back-to-school teatime routine. (I confess, I never use the word teatime as a substitute for dinner. Teatime is literally teatime for me, and meals are meals, of course, you can combine both, but you'd never hear me saying "We'll have fish and chips for tea". )

We don't have any special strategies or tips to share, just the usual common sense ideas:
- involve your kids into cooking - perhaps just a few simple things to start with, like mixing the cake batter, shaking a bottle with a dressing, decorating the cookies and cupcakes. Talk about food, how you make it, why certain foods go well together, and why putting peas into a cake frosting might be not the best idea...
- teach your children where food comes from, so they know where milk and eggs come from; if possible, grow some simple vegetables or berries together (My younger son has been taking care of "his" beanstalk all summer. He loves helping me water the tomatoes in the greenhouse, and they always taste wonderful, picked fresh, no comparison to any bought varieties).
- involve them to help with the table setting, and teach good table manners (though it's easier said than done sometimes, I still cannot convince Eddie that he needs to use a fork, when he eats his "sghetti" (Eddie's word for spaghetti), he prefers to use his hands).
- don't turn your meals into a battle, you are never going to win that. I'm not going to force my child to stay at the table until the very last morsel is eaten, or tell him he's going to eat what's left on his plate with his next meal (we're not going to point fingers, but that's what my husband said his Mum used to say).
- be adventurous with food and introduce foreign/exotic ingredients to your meals. Try to cook from scratch if you enjoy it, but don't stress if you don't. Have fish fingers and peas, and be happy.

Disclosure: I received some Birds Eye vouchers for the purposes of writing this post. All opinions are mine.

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page

1 comment:

  1. Good ideas for mealtimes. My son loves helping to cook. I have never tried the rice fusions, will have to give them a go