Five delicious after-school meals cooked from press to plate in minutes

Cupboard staples can be convenient for making these meals in 40 minutes or less

Have you ever walked into the kitchen after a long, busy day, opened a press full of ingredients, heard shouts of, “What’s for dinner?” and thought, I just don’t know? You are not alone.

It’s a known fact that cooking the main evening meal can be the most stressful part of the day, especially during term time. One of the main reasons for establishing my family cooking club was to help tackle the question, “How do I turn items from that cupboard full of ingredients into a simple, quick family meal that doesn’t require a dozen pots and pans and a major clean-up afterwards?”

I have selected five simple meals, two from my forthcoming cookbook, One Yummy Mummy: Family Kitchen, that can be cooked from press to plate in 40 minutes or less, removing that stress and replacing it with a tasty, delicious dinner instead.

Press pizza

Press to plate: 35 minutes
Serves four
– You will need a mixing bowl and baking tray.
– Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Celsius fan, or gas mark eight.
– Into a large mixing bowl add 200g of plain flour and a sprinkle of salt and make a little well in the centre.
– Pour 120ml water, a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of fast-action yeast into the well and mix it all together with a spoon.
– Flour your hands and bring the mixture together into a dough, giving it a good knead.
– Flour a work surface area and turn out the dough, kneading and stretching it to let the yeast work its magic.
– Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and roll out your dough to the same size as the tray.
– Top the dough with a tablespoon of tomato puree, a pinch of sugar and a sprinkle of oregano.
– Scatter with a mozzarella and cheddar grated mix and top with your favourite toppings.
– Turn the oven down to 180 degrees or gas mark four and place your pizza on the middle shelf.
– Oven bake for 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.
– Perfect pizza every time.


Carrot and orange soup

Press to plate: 40 minutes
Serves four
– You will need a large saucepan with a lid.
– Peel and crush a garlic clove and a centimetre cubed of fresh ginger.
– Roughly peel and chop a white onion, a large orange, a potato and four carrots.
– In your saucepan, heat a tablespoon of your preferred oil over a medium heat.
– Fry the garlic, ginger and onion until soft.
– Add the orange, carrot and potato and fry for another five minutes.
– Season with a little salt and pepper.
– Dissolve one vegetable stock cube in boiling water and add it to the saucepan.
– Cover and simmer for 35 minutes until the veggies are tender and cooked.
– Blend with a stick blender.
– Finish with a teaspoon of mild curry powder and turmeric.

Prawn tagliatelle

Press to plate: 25 minutes
Serves four
– You will need a frying pan and saucepan.
– Fry two crushed garlic cloves for a few seconds over a medium heat.
– Pour in 100ml of chicken stock and let it reduce for one minute.
– Add in 400g of fresh, deveined prawns and cook for five minutes.
– Turn the heat down to a simmer and dollop in two tablespoons of cream cheese.
– Season with salt and pepper.
– Meanwhile, boil four tagliatelle nests according to packet instructions.
– Once cooked, drain the pasta and mix it in with the prawns.
– Serve immediately with some leafy greens.

Sausage casserole

Press to Plate: 35 minutes
Serves four
– You will need a large pan with a lid.
– Slice 12 sausages with a high pork content into bite-sized chunks.
– Crush a garlic clove, peel and dice a white onion and a medium carrot and dice a red pepper.
– Place the pan over a medium heat with a teaspoon of rapeseed oil.
– Brown the sausage chunks for about 10 minutes, allowing them to colour nicely, then remove with a slotted spoon and leave to one side.
– Now let the onion and garlic soften in the pan for five minutes, then add your carrot and red pepper.
– Add the sausages back into the pan and pour in 200g of kidney beans, giving it a good mix.
– Sprinkle in one tablespoon of paprika and a teaspoon of smoked paprika.
– Season with salt and pepper.
– Add in 400g of passata and a tablespoon of tomato puree and mix well.
– Sprinkle in a little brown sugar to offset the acidity in the tomatoes.
– Cover and simmer on a low heat for 12 minutes.
– Serve piled high on baked potatoes or fresh pasta.

Coconut veggie curry

Press to plate: 35 minutes
Serves four
– You will need a large saucepan with a lid.
– Crush a clove of garlic, dice one onion, a butternut squash, a finger of ginger and a green pepper, and slice a handful of mushrooms.
– Place your saucepan over a medium heat with a little oil and chuck in all the veggies.
– Stir in a tablespoon of tomato puree and fry for five minutes.
– Sprinkle in two tablespoons of curry powder, season with a little salt then add a tin of coconut milk.
– Stir everything together well then put a lid on the pan and simmer for 25 minutes.
– Finally, chuck in a handful of spinach and let it wilt.
– Serve with fluffy rice.

Read: 5 tasty after-school meals