The summer holidays are fast approaching and while the idea of six weeks free from school runs, after school activities and ferrying Caitlin and Ieuan back and forth to their various engagements is appealing, I have to find fun activities to stop them crawling the walls and coax them away from their beloved iPads.
The holidays also mean I need to whizz up extra lunches mid-week, which got me thinking – let’s find some quick and easy lunch ideas that the kids can get involved in too. Children love getting dirty in the kitchen and gain a real sense of responsibility and pride when they tuck into their produce, plus it’s something we can do together. Check out our favourite fast but healthy meal ideas we’ll be creating over the holidays.
Homemade baked beans on toast
Baked beans are a British staple and homemade ones are so much more delicious than the tinned variety, as well as being simple to make. Toast a slice of your favourite freshly baked bread, cover with lashings of butter et voila. Lunch is served.
1 large onion
1 red pepper
1 garlic clove
2 x 400 g tins of beans (borlotti, kidney, black eyed)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Soften the onion and pepper in a splash of olive oil before adding the garlic. Add your chosen beans and chopped tomatoes to the pan and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Season with a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Homemade beef burgers and chips
Everyone craves comfort food from time to time and burgers and chips are a real family favourite in our household. Homemade burgers beat shop bought ones every time –they’re easy to make and can easily be freezed before cooking should you have leftover mixture. Team with some crispy sweet potato fries and serve with a fresh, green salad.
400g premium lean beef mince
1 clove garlic
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
McCain Sweet Potato Fries
Salad to garnish
Combine the minced beef and garlic in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Form into four 1cm thick patties and grill for five minutes on each side. Meanwhile thinly slice the onion, sprinkle with oregano and grill until slightly brown. Place the patties in bread rolls and top with the onion, adding fries and salad on the side.
Falafel make for really healthy and tasty fast food, packed with protein and lots of exciting flavours. Serve with soft tortilla bread and load up your homemade wraps with charred veggies, salsa and hummous.
1 x 400 g tin of mixed beans
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon harissa
1 heaped teaspoon allspice
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 bunch of fresh coriander
Method: Drain the chickpeas and beans and place them in a food processor along with all the other ingredients. Blitz until smooth before removing the mixture and shaping into around eight patties about 1.5 cm thick. Fry the falafel in a little olive oil until golden brown and crispy and then get busy loading up your wraps with your chosen fillings.
Macaroni cheese is a super easy and budget friendly meal, perfect for hungry teenagers and parents alike. Smooth and creamy, this is a big hit with the little ones too. Again, if you make too much, this dish can easily be frozen and reheated later in the week.
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
180g Cathedral City Mature Cheddar (grated)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, drain and place to the side. On a low heat, melt the butter and add the plain flour, black pepper and mustard powder, stirring all the time. Add the milk a little at a time using a whisk to prevent lumps and bring to the boil to thicken the sauce. Add a big handful of grated cheese before mixing in the drained pasta. Place in a large oven proof dish, sprinkle with more cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 180C and voila, lunch is served!