Quick and easy after-school meals that are child’s play
Four delicious meals with easy prep which take no longer than 40 minutes to cook
Chicken Curry in a Hurry: the perfect after-school meal
I find the dreaded after-school frenzy can be one of the most stressful times of the day.
The kids are exhausted, sometimes even emotionally drained from a full day of school activities. It can be overwhelming for a parent having a huge checklist looming that has to be ticked off each day: after-school activities, homework, dinner, then bedtime, which has a whole other checklist of its own!
Fitting in at least 30 minutes of chill-out time every day can be a life-saver, giving the kids the freedom to have a breather when they come in the door just to play or unwind. Another major de-stresser is having a few simple, easy meals up your sleeve that the kids can actually help you make, dishes that you can prepare together after the kids have had that all-important breather.
I know it may sound crazy having kids in the kitchen in the midst of all that after-school mayhem, but they do love to help and thrive on responsibility. There are so many age-appropriate jobs in the kitchen, even from an early age. Also, it can be great bonding time. I find this the best time for little chats with Lily Mae (5).
Having a simple meal plan organised for the week, especially for the first few weeks back to school, really can lighten the load.
So here are some meals with easy prep that take no longer than 40 minutes to cook from fridge to fork.
1. Pizza Pasta
- You will need a saucepan and an ovenproof dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4.
- Cook 200g of fusilli pasta according to the packet instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, crush one garlic clove, dice one red pepper and slice 200g of chorizo.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and add in the red pepper, chorizo and garlic to the pot, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Pour in 200g of passata and a tablespoon each of red pesto and dried oregano. Mix thoroughly then transfer to an oven-proof dish.
- Finish with a scattering of mature white cheddar on top.
- Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
2. Healthy Pot Noodles
- You will need a saucepan and a wok.
- Cook 140g of medium egg noodles according to the packet instructions.
- When they are cooked, drain and toss in a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking together. Cover the noodles and leave to one side.
- Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of olive oil to your wok and place over a medium heat.
- Dice four chicken breasts and add to the wok, cooking for 15 minutes.
- Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 15g of frozen peas, 15g of sweetcorn, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir fry for another 10 minutes then pour in a chicken stock cube dissolved in 30ml of water, along with a splash of soy sauce.
- Toss in the cooked egg noodles and serve in little pots.
3. Chicken Curry in a Hurry
- You will need a large, heavy-based saucepan.
- Dice four chicken breasts, crush one garlic clove, slice one medium white onion and two stalks of celery.
- Pour a glug of olive oil into your heavy-based saucepan and saute the onion, garlic and celery for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour and stir.
- Slowly add in a pint of hot chicken stock, quarter pint by quarter pint, giving a good stir until the mixture looks thick with no lumps.
- Finish by sprinkling in a heaped tablespoon of mild curry powder, a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of dried ginger.
- Turn the heat down low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serves 2, depending on how hungry you are!
- You will need a small saucepan and a large frying pan.
- Start by making your salsa: Dice one red onion, one green pepper, one red pepper and crush one garlic clove.
- Throw into the saucepan over a medium heat with a glug of olive oil and saute for about six minutes until the onion has become a little caramelised.
- Pour in a 200g tin of chopped tomatoes and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle in a ½ teaspoon each of cumin, oregano and brown sugar, then finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- In a frying pan big enough to hold a flat tortilla wrap, heat a glug of olive oil then fry one side of your tortilla wrap until crispy. Take out and leave to one side.
- Repeat with a second wrap then top with 2 tablespoons of salsa, spreading it out making sure the wrap is evenly covered.
- Sprinkle with grated white cheddar cheese then top with the first cooked wrap, crispy side up.
- Cook until the cheese is melted and oozing.
- Cut into quarters like a pizza and serve with a dollop of sour cream.