20 Easy Homemade Meals for your Toddler (and you!)

January 23, 2015

Ever get bored of eating the same old thing or sit for ages wondering what on earth to feed the children with this week? Wonder no more. Here I'm sharing some of my favourite recipes, that I make pretty often and serve up to the whole family - that's my 1 year old, my 3 year old and my husband and I. 

They're all easy to make, some are super quick and some take a little longer - I've made a note of which are which. 

I enjoy to cook, but I'm no qualified chef so most of my recipes are at least based on ones I've found in books or online. I've posted direct links so you can enjoy them too, click on the titles to go directly to the relevant page.

QUICK AND EASY

Perfect recipes for the afternoons you come in late from soft play or have been at work.

1. Hob to table moussaka

I tried this when my eldest daughter was going through a super fussy eating stage, I thought it looked a bit like the much loved bolognese and so I hoped I'd get away with it. Yippee, it worked! It is so easy to make and sooooo tasty!

The jarred aubergine makes this super fast to prepare, but it can be difficult to find (I'm able to get it from a 'big' Sainsbury's but not seen it elsewhere). You could either use a fresh one and bake it first or *shock horror* substitute it for something else. In a rush at the weekend I used jarred red pepper. It still tasted as good (although could not really be called moussaka anymore). I don't bother with the mint unless I have some in and crumble on only as much feta as looks right - the amount specified I think is a bit overpowering.

 

2. Pasta with a creamy bacon and pea sauce

Something that tastes this good, should not be this easy. It is done in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Use any type of pasta and I shortcut by using cubed pancetta. I also tend to use full fat creme fraiche as it's better for the kids and the mint really enhances this dish's flavour (but again I leave it out if I have none to hand).

 

3. Curried coconut courgette couscous  

Yes, couscous can be a bit messy for little ones - but this is really tasty and something a bit different from the usual pasta/rice scenario. As suggested in the method, I serve it with some pan fried fish (salmon or trout) but I also chuck on some diced cucumber mixed with natural yogurt to avoid it becoming a bit of a 'dry do'. If you wanted to, you could smear the fish that's for the grown ups in curry paste too before frying and chuck some chopped chilli in the yogurt for extra kick.

 

4. Super Easy Homemade Roasted Veg Pasta Sauce

You'll never buy it in a jar again. Bung a load of roughly chopped Mediterranean veg like peppers, courgettes, red onions etc into the oven with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and white wine/cider vinegar and roast for about 20 mins or so. Blitz with a tin of tomatoes and some basil and serve with pasta of your choice! You can make the sauce ahead of time and pop in the fridge for the evening, or freezer if you're using up veg ready for another time. My husband likes me to pop some chicken with it too but the girls and I are just as happy as it is.

 

5. Slow roasted pork ragu

Oh wow. This is ridiculously tasty. For it to be super quick and easy, you need to be using left over slow roast pork (see recipe number 13 lower down in this list). You can find this recipe in Jamie Oliver's Save With Jamie book, or by clicking on the link above. Note the link is to the recipe I found on another blogger's page. I don't think the pictures he shows do it justice, plus ignore what he says about serving it on pasta - while that's perfectly great (and what I often do), it is just as lovely on a jacket potato or piled on toast.

 

6. Leeks, mushrooms and pancetta pasta 

Based on a recipe by Gordon Ramsey, here's my version:

  • Pop a pan of water for your pasta on to boil
  • Slice up a leek or two and some mushrooms
  • Pop your pasta into the boiling water following packet instructions for timing
  • Into a hot frying pan with some oil, chuck in your leeks and mushrooms together with a pack of diced pancetta or chorizo. Or swap for some snipped up slices of bacon
  • Stir regularly
  • Drain the pasta and mix with the leeks etc
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche or mascarpone and stir through
  • Serve and smile

 

EASY BUT A TEENSY BIT MORE TIME REQUIRED

Don't groan! If you are in and around home you can save time on these recipes by prepping veg and so on earlier on, which means it'll take less time to cook. Plus, many of these recipes will leave you with leftovers which you can either freeze for another day or have as a lunch etc. So they are well worth the effort.

7. Risotto

Risotto is so versatile and soooo tasty, I love it for its ability (like good old spag bol) for getting lots of veggies into the little ones without them realising. You can pop in all sorts of meat and veg, I've laid down my basic recipe below. You'll need about 45 mins for this one roughly.

  • Finely chop (or if you're short of time, pop into the food processor and blitz until it looks right): 1 large white onion, 1-2 sticks of celery 
  • Chop into bite size pieces any other veg you're using (I like things like squash, broccoli etc)
  • Into a large frying pan with a good glug of oil, pop in your onion, celery, a minced garlic clove or two, pack of cubed pancetta (unless you're making a veggie version) and your hard veg
  • Fry reasonably slowly until soft
  • While this is going, get yourself about 600ml of hot stock ready (I use chicken but you could use veg) plus a glass of white wine (for the risotto and one for you if you like!) and a mug of risotto rice (no, you can't use basmati!)
  • Turn up the heat, throw in your rice and cook for a minute of so, stirring
  • Next, for the wine, listen to that sizzle!
  • Turning the heat back down to medium/low stir the wine continuously through the risotto until absorbed (this won't take long)
  • Add about a third of your stock and stir in. A lot of recipes will have you stirring continuously, ladle at a time but I've done that and found no difference in adding larger amounts and leaving for a couple of mins. Important thing is not to leave it completely, keep an eye on it
  • Add remaining stock, third at a time as and when the last lot is nearly soaked up, this process should take about 15 mins
  • Add any softer veg like spinach or peas right towards the end of cooking and stir through
  • Once all the stock is in and you have a nice gooey consistency, turn off the heat and stir through a good knob of butter and a handful of parmesan
  • Leave for a min or two, then serve with a little more parmesan on top

 

8. Pizza

Home made is so much better and you can do it with the children too! We often use this Jamie Oliver recipe. I make enough sauce to use the whole jar of tomatoes and then freeze what I don't so it's even easier next time! Sometimes we shortcut the base and buy ready made, but this really is easy enough to do yourself too....

 

9. Saucy Seasonal Greens

Yum, yum, yum. Gorgeous tomatoey sauce with green veg and sausage over pasta. I reckon 45 minutes start to finish, but you can save time here by prepping your sausages and veg earlier in the day and then it should only take you about 20-25 mins to cook.

 

10. Fish pie 

It does take a little time this one, but you can make it ahead of time. I often prep the pie in the morning (make the mash for the topping and get the ingredients mixed together then combine in the pie dish and refrigerate) then just pop it in the oven when we want it, so it can actually become a quick meal if you have chance to prep early. Plus, we always we have enough left over for another meal too - happy days!

 

11. Chicken and chorizo paella

Oh wow, this is simply deeeeeelicious. Super easy, but takes about an hour. An indulgent, nutritious weekend treat for the whole family. 

 

12. Cuban Ropa Vieja

Cuban what? This is a shredded beef recipe that we serve with either rice, tortillas or on nachos (usually the leftovers with the nachos). It is really simple and if you have a slow cooker then at point 4, switch to that (I use the low setting for about 5-6 hours) and you can just forget about it until later. 

 

13. Slow roast pork

How comforting is a hot pork roll? My eldest loves them! Great when you're short on time or are entertaining. Here's my recipe:

  • Get about a 1kg pork shoulder joint
  • Remove the skin, sprinkle with salt and set aside on kitchen towel to dry out
  • Score the pork and rub with salt and pepper
  • Pop into a slow cooker with a couple of minced garlic cloves, some bruised sage leaves and a glass of white wine
  • Cook on high for about 6 hours
  • An hour before the pork is ready, put your oven on high (about 220 for electric)
  • Rub the skin with olive oil and put into the hot oven to crackle for about 45 mins but keep an eye on it
  • Shred the rested pork, serve with rolls, gravy, apple sauce the crackling and stuffing and your choice of sides. I did this one last time and it was deeeeeelicious.

 

14. Easy Cheesy with Griddled Greens

Think posh mac n cheese, but with veggies. Your kids will eat their greens cooked like this! Prep your almonds, veg and breadcrumbs in advance to make it super quick.

 

 15. Chicken and Mushroom Pie

If you have Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals, you'll find this recipe in there. I couldn't find it on his website, but the link will take you to another site where the recipe is featured. This pie filling makes enough for us to have twice (since the girls don't have a full portion each) so I make the whole amount and freeze half to save me time another day. I often make the filling ahead of time and pop in the fridge until tea-time. Then, simply pop on the pre-bought, pre-rolled pastry and in the oven!

 

 16. Yummy Red Thai Curry

Another scrummy Saturday night family tea, this one is by Nigella. I tend to use either the squash or the sweet potato but not usually both and leave out the mango (not keen on fruit in my main courses!). I've also used pumpkin in this one at Halloween as a seasonal alternative and it works great.

 

17. Marrow Spaghetti Olivnaise

Super, duper healthy and ridiculously tasty! This is one I made and how good does it look (even if I do say so myself!). Girls loved it too (as you can see by it being shovelled into Martha's mouth!). Basically, you're swapping the pasta for marrow (you can also use courgette). Not a bad one time wise either.

 

18. Inside Out BLT

Very tasty and only takes about half an hour to make. A lovely light lunch for the weekend perhaps. Add in any other bits of salad your lot love, for me that's cucumber and more tomato in addition to the sauce...

 

19. Good Old Spaghetti Bolognese

If you usually use a jar of sauce, then pleeeaaaase try this recipe. Yes, it takes a little time to cook but most of the time it's left to its own devices simmering away. There is loads so you can freeze half or more for another day and it's taste is the best.

  • Finely chop (or blitz in food processor to save time): 2 white onions, 2 carrots and 2 sticks of celery
  • Into a hot pan with a lug of oil, pop a pack of cubed pancetta or snip up 3-4 rashers of bacon and add 1-2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • Once golden, add the chopped veg together with 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • Cook slowly to soften (5-10 mins)
  • Add 500g of lean beef mince and cook til browned
  • I drain everything at this point through a colander to get rid of the excess fat
  • Return to pan and add two tins of tomatoes (I use plum as the quality tends to be better, then I kind of nicely hack at them to chop up)
  • Fill one of the tins with water and add to the pan with a handful of chopped basil
  • Pop a lid on and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally
  • Take off the lid for a further half hour
  • By this time, you should have something that looks like bolognese. Chuck in a large handful of parmesan and stir through
  • Serve with your choice of pasta with a little more parmesan on top
  • Realise this is the tastiest bolognese you've made

 

 20. Sea Trout with Baby Leeks and Crushed Potatoes

 

Finally, a show stopper. Definitely one for the weekend, it doesn't take forever but there a few stages so you need a little more time than a weeknight. Increase the quantity according to how many you're cooking for. You might curse when you write the kitchen off prepping it but trust me, it's so worth it. Enjoy!

There's not much I find more satisfying than serving my children something I've made from scratch and then seeing them devour it. I also love that this food is nutritious and good enough to please the whole family - I'm too lazy to cook for the girls and then for us later! I'd love to hear if you plan to try any of them and indeed what you thought.

If you enjoyed this blog, then 'get social' with me and be sure not to miss out on forthcoming posts. My next blog will give tips on how to cook at the witching hour (otherwise known as tea time) without your baby/toddler trying to climb up your legs! Click the links below to go straight to my page on your preferred site!

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See you there!

Sally x




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