To lend a helping hand with lockdown meals, we asked Baby & Child Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed to share some of her favourite quick and easy mini meals. All of these yummy meals take minutes to prepare, use ingredients you will have at home, and will hopefully be a hit with the whole family.
Toast is your friend
Try avocado smashed on wholemeal toast with milled seeds sprinkled on top or no added sugar baked beans on toast, egg on toast with a side of chopped tomatoes or peanut butter on toast with cucumber sticks. All delicious, nutritious and super-easy.
Stir-fry vegetables with tofu and peanut sauce
Dry fry frozen veggies until thawed, add chunks of tofu or a handful of cooked noodles, and fry until browning. Mix smooth peanut butter with some yogurt and top. Dinner is served!
Jacket potatoes packed with goodness
Pop a baking potato in the oven mid-morning and it will be perfectly cooked in time for lunch. Serve with no added sugar baked beans, roasted or cooked frozen veggies and a blob of hummus on the side. Yum.
Versatile veg chilli
Chop an onion and fry until soft, add any veggies you have in the fridge (spinach, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and mushrooms all work well), add a pinch of dried oregano or mixed herbs and a pinch of chilli powder, throw in a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of beans or a couple of handfuls of lentils, and cook for 20 minutes. Use to top a jacket potato, rice or pasta or spread on to a wholemeal wrap to make enchiladas or a nutritious pizza base topping
Pesto is a winner for using up leftovers and can be stirred into pasta, turned into dips or used to top fish or chicken and add flavour to soups and sauces.
Grab two very large handfuls of leftover greens such as basil, spinach or kale (or a mix of all of these), a handful of nuts such as pine nuts, almonds or cashew nuts, a clove of garlic (2 if you like your pesto garlicky) and a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil and pepper to taste. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pop the pesto in a jam jar and keep it in the fridge. Done!
Tomato sauce with pasta, beans or pulses
Fry half a diced red onion in ½ a teaspoon of olive oil until it starts to soften, add 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes. Serve on top of pasta or spaghetti and add some chopped butter beans or kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas or fish to make it really balanced.
Mix 2 tablespoons of tomato puree with 3 tablespoons of water. Warm a few wholemeal pittas in the toaster for 30 seconds. Spread the tomato mixture on to the pittas, and then sprinkle on your favourite toppings (olives, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms etc). Add a layer of grated cheese and pop it under a warm grill for 5 minutes. Always a winner with little diners.
These are a great way to use up leftover veg, or you can just grab a handful of frozen veg to make a super-quick and nutritious meal.
I hope these ideas help to lighten the load, and give you peace of mind that your little one is getting plenty of goodness, while you’re busy juggling home-schooling, work and trying to keep little ones entertained.