Four quick-pick plates: After-school eats on the run

With famished kids and less time in the kitchen, it’s vital to have more grab-and-go options up our sleeves

The back-to-school routine is in full swing and with after-school activities just around the corner, our days are about to get a whole lot busier.

The window between collection and drop off seems to only get smaller, and with just 30 minutes before we need to deliver the kids pitchside or to the studio, is it any wonder we find ourselves reaching for the less-healthy options of bars, biscuits or crisps?

With famished kids and less time in the kitchen, it’s vital to have more grab-and-go options up our sleeves, packed with the all-important nutrients our kids need to stay healthy and active.

I find quick-pick plates, or grab platters as my lot like to call them, are the perfect solution for a healthy snack and can be so much more inspiring than the highly processed alternatives.


Start the week by making your oatcakes, hummus and salsa to have something wholesome with nutritional value to grab and add to your platters. You can even slide any leftovers into a lunch box to eat in transit or on the way home.

With healthier options keeping our kids nourished, they will perform better, be happier and you may even buy yourself a bit of time to cook the main evening meal without the added pressure of, what’s for dinner?

Epic home-made hummus and roasted pitta bread chips with veggie sticks

  • Start by making your hummus by adding the juice of a large lemon, 1 tbs tahini and a small garlic clove to a mini chopper or food processor and blitz for 1 minute.
  • Open, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and add to the chopper along with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cumin. Pulse until smooth or until you have your desired consistency — you may need to add 1 or 2 tbs of water to loosen it out. Serve your dip with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a little sprinkle of paprika.
  • To make your pita chips, preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) and slice 4 large pita pockets in half to make 8 single rounds of pita, then slice each round into 4 triangles.
  • Brush with olive oil and season each side with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Place on to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Arrange the pita chips on a platter with sliced carrot, cucumber and apple, and the hummus dip in the centre.

Home-made oat cakes & cream cheese with mixed fruit

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan). In a large bowl, combine 200g of pinhead oats and a pinch of salt.
  • Add in a tbs of melted butter and 2 tbs of hot water and mix together to form a dough.
  • Continue to knead the dough to allow the oats to absorb the water, then form into a ball and turn out on to a floured work surface.
  • Roll out the dough to approximately 2mm in thickness, then cut into oatcakes using a 1.5-inch cookie cutter.
  • Place your oatcakes on to a baking tray, adding a little sprinkle of caster sugar to the top of each one.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until slightly golden, then turn and bake for another 5 minutes. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • Arrange the oat cakes on a platter with cream cheese and a mix of sliced fruit and berries.

All-in-one mini ciabatta pizzas and garlic bread

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan).
  • Slice 4 ciabatta rolls in half and place them on to a lined baking sheet.
  • To make your pizza, smear 4 of the ciabatta halves with tomato purée and top with grated mozzarella and cheddar mix, and pepperoni.
  • For the garlic bread, make a simple garlic butter by mixing a crushed garlic clove with 2 tbs of butter and some freshly snipped parsley.
  • Spread on to the remaining 4 ciabatta halves and oven bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Arrange all the ciabatta pieces on your platter for an all-in-one pizza experience.

15-minute salsa nacho tray melt

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees fan.
  • Stack 5 or 6 flour tortillas on top of each other then cut the stack into 8 wedges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife — this will make 40 to 48 ‘nachos’.
  • Spread out the individual nacho pieces over a large baking sheet.
  • Drizzle with oil making sure each nacho is well covered. Don’t be afraid to get your hands stuck in for this one.
  • Combine a pinch of cumin, chilli powder and salt in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the nachos.
  • Bake for 5 minutes while you make your salsa.
  • In a large mixing bowl put a tin of plum tomatoes, 1 roughly chopped red onion, the juice of a freshly squeezed lime, 2 garlic cloves and blend with a stick blender to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and add a sprinkle of oregano.
  • Dice ½ a red and ½ a green pepper and put to one side.
  • After 5 minutes in the oven, remove the nachos, flip them, and drizzle the salsa over the top.
  • Scatter on the red and green pepper. (Optional: to up the heat, add some sliced jalapeño or chilis.)
  • Finish off with a topping of grated mozzarella and cheddar and pop back into the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  • Serve with sour cream and a garnish of coriander.