Yes, the school term is now in full swing and September might nearly be over, but that doesn’t mean that the need for time-saving ideas, smart cooking hacks, lunchbox inspiration and quick meals is any less than it was a few weeks back. In fact, we’d go as far to say that this point in the month might be the time when you need a little help the most.
If you’re on a quest to put a family meal on the table as many days of the week as possible, then the importance of planning ahead can’t be overestimated. Having a rough idea of what you’re going to serve for dinner before you leave the house in the morning helps you to avoid that horrible feeling when, at 6 pm, you’re standing in front of the fridge with absolutely no idea what to make.
Now these meals don’t need to be innovative, time-consuming or even original – instead, establish a series of family favourites that you know everyone will enjoy and don’t be afraid to serve them on rotation. Pinning a list of these dishes up in the kitchen is also a great help here as is keeping an inventory of the items in your fridge and freezer.
We also find that doing one simple thing in the morning that will help contribute to dinner makes a real difference when you walk in the door after a long day. This could be making a quick yogurt and lemon marinade for a piece of meat or fish, chopping an onion so that it can go straight into the pan later on, dicing up a few potatoes or taking a piece of puff pastry out the freezer so that it can slowly defrost before being turned into a speedy savoury tart.
The pea and prawn omelette recipe below is super-simple in execution but the mix of flavours and textures – juicy prawns, rich egg and creamy mayo as well as the freshness from the rocket and mint and heat courtesy of the Sriracha – make this a grown-up meal to remember and one that’s perfect for a relaxed Thursday night in front of the sofa.
For a true people-pleaser of a dish (yes, little people too), Marmite linguine is an absolute winner. It calls for just four ingredients, butter included, yet something magical happens when they combine and the result is empty plates and big smiles all round. Try it out on your tribe and see what we mean…Happy eating!
Pea and prawn omelette
50g frozen peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
300g fresh prawns
handful mint leaves
1 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha
Put the peas in a sieve and run under warm water.
Set a non-stick frying pan with the olive oil over a medium heat.
Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Tip in the peas and cook for a further two minutes, until green and vibrant. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan. Increase the heat to high.
Pat the prawns dry with kitchen paper then add to the pan and cook for two minutes per side or until bright pink. Return the peas to the pan.
Whisk the eggs and season generously. Reduce the heat to medium and pour the eggs into the pan. To ensure an evenly cooked omelette, use a wooden spoon to draw the egg mixture into the centre so that the uncooked eggs run into the gaps.
Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until the eggs are just set (or cooked to your liking).
Add the rocket and mint to one side of the omelette. Use a rubber spatula to loosen the omelette at the sides slightly and slide onto a plate, folding in half as you do so.
Drizzle with the mayonnaise and Sriracha before serving.
50g unsalted butter
3-4 tsp Marmite
parmesan, to serve
Cook the linguine according to packet instructions.
In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Stir in the Marmite, then use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta to the pan. Don’t worry if the tongs take a little liquid with them, this will help to thicken the sauce.
Mix really well then divide among plates or bowls, top with the parmesan and serve.