Cooking for families

I feel like this post should start with …. and now for something completely different :-)

I can’t believe how much of my life is spent cooking. I don’t dislike cooking but its a pretty functional activity for me. A few years ago my oldest son became vegetarian, not a big deal in itself but when added to a family of 6, one dairy intolerant (or used to be!), fussy eaters with 4 different meal times it adds to the complexity.

I’ve tried slow cookers, sometimes good but it still doesn’t always solve my multiple diet issues. I often do simple pasta/rice with each part added separately with parts taken out for everyone. (Tomato sauce and quorn, tomato sauce and meat and plain meat). I know that a common suggestion is to cook in big batches and then freeze but to be honest I’m not crazy about this. Often reheated food just doesn’t taste as good and I’ve got a tendency to forget that I’ve got food in the freezer!

When I look for new receipts I have a few criteria:

Most importantly it can’t have too many steps. If something takes 2 hours hands on preparation then it’s a non-runner.

If the ingredients are similar to what we already eat it means that it’ll be more easily accepted.

I want it to punch above it’s weight. It should be easy to prepare, without too many ingredients and taste amazing.

Flicking through an older Sunday Times magazine this weekend I came across a simple carrot and lentil soup. It ticked the first 2 boxes so I thought I’d give it a shot.

(c) BBC Good Food

The result was amazing. Very, very simple to prepare. I had everything in my cupboard and everyone except my soup hater loved it. The version I found in the magazine is similar to the one linked above but it had larger portions, it used 1kg of carrots.

Now for some reason I though it was a good idea to hand grate 1kg of carrots. Lets just say that my arm is still feeling it…. I think the food processor will be coming out next time.

Do you have any recipes that you love and are easy to prepare? Please share I’d love to add a few more!

8 thoughts on “Cooking for families

  1. Staying on the topic of soups – a pumpkin soup. Can be prepared fully vegetarian, a portion taken off for the dairy-intolerant, and then some sour cream or cream added. For non vegetarians, add some meat balls. You can make the soup spicy (by adding ground chili, coriander, cumin, and adding some sliced ingwer when cooking the pumpkin) or fruity – with a dash (or more) of orange juice, and some ginger.

    I also like soups make from carrots, sweet potato and parsnips.

    Quiches and tarts – there are endless varieties, not just Quiche Lorraine with ham and cheese. Leeks, baby marrow, tomatoes, etc can be used as filling. You should be able to buy dough in supermarkets, but it is also quickly made.

  2. We like to do pizza, tacos, and (veggie) burgers for these same reasons: lots of possibilities for pick-your-own and ease of preparation in the evening. Plus, lots of veggie possibilities (which can remain hidden from view for the smaller members of the family). That carrot lentil soup looks amazing, btw–might have to try that one on next week’s rotation. Really enjoy the blog and your terrific designs. Congratulations on the new book!

  3. We love veggie quesadillas. Can be made to suit the vegetarian and the dairy intolerance! For non-vegetarians I add shredded roasted chicken. The veggies are generally snap peas, zucchini, corn, red & green bell peppers, onion, garlic, eggplant, are sauteed in a little coconut oil (butter or olive oil work great too), with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Mix in the roasted chicken (if using) and heat through. I serve this over brown rice, or on corn or flour tortillas with cheese (add fillings, fold in half, and fry in a pan until cheese melts). So easy, and you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.

  4. I would highly recommend the Stonesoup website. Virtually all of the recipes have only five ingredients or so, but one of the genius bits is that at the end of the recipe it suggests all kinds of tweaks to make it suitable for various diets e.g. vegetarian, dairy-intolerant, carnivore (!), etc. etc. Free downloadable recipe books too! Here’s a link, because there is a similarly-titled website which is a children’s art site:

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