It’s 5 pm in Toronto. The little people of the house are tired. Behaviours deteriorate. Crying and whining are the preferred form of communication. Sibling rivalry intensifies.
The after-school snack was ‘Hours ago, Mummy’. Little tummies are rumbling. The kitchen is a hive of unwanted attention.
Mum considers pouring herself a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Is it too early? (It’s been one of those days.)
But still one feat stands before her…the daily, ever tedious question: what are we going to have for dinner tonight?
I love to cook, love experimenting with new recipes. The preparation, sautéing rainbow coloured vegetables, inhaling the aroma whilst chopping fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden. The process can be therapeutic, a pleasure. Just not on school nights!
Oh the witching hour
Some call 5-6 pm the witching hour. Quite possibly the hour of the day mums dread most.
Here’s what it looks like in our house.
An exhausted 5-year-old, weary from school, just wants to enjoy 30 minutes of Paw Patrol, but can’t. He’s accosted by his kid brother who has missed him all day.
Our tired and spirited daughter, our 3-nager, with every passing minute she’s closer to the point of meltdown.
My baby boy, who’s maybe in good form (after a great lunch-time nap) is, at best, emptying my cupboards, dragging his chair over to the worktop or antagonising his older siblings. At worst (after a not-so-great lunch-time nap) he is a tired, whining mess of a child, clinging to my leg with ‘Mummy-up Mummy- up’ on repeat, or attached to my boob while I attempt to make a meal one-handed.
Despite the above, like me, are you still determined to serve healthy meals of homemade goodness,(you know exactly what the ingredients are) but want to do it quickly with minimal stress?
From experience, here’s what works best for us:
A) Choose easy meals (15 min total prep time or less)
B) Cook meals which can be prepared partly in advance and pulled together 5-10 min max at the crucial moment.
C) Minimal clear up (because I loathe nothing more than returning to the kitchen after the ‘bed and bath routine’ to do a big clean up).
Our 5 favourite quick and healthy meals - perfect for school nights or busy weekends:
1) Pesto pasta with steamed or raw veggies. (Our fav recipe from Food 52 is vegan but add parmesan if you fancy.)
In the time it takes to boil pasta you can prepare a delicious batch of homemade basil pesto. Put all ingredients in the food processor or blender and it’s ready.
2) Pancakes from oat flour, with bananas and milk. Recipe from simple vegan blog, served with a side of yogurt and fresh fruit or a smoothie. Relax, all food groups are covered and if you prep the batter ahead of time, they it can be ready in a matter of minutes. Breakfast for dinner, we are huge fans.
3) Homemade falafel, (love this recipe from Epicurios) Either served with rice, in a pita with salad and lathered in fresh homemade humus or as a tasty addition to a Buddha bowl.
I always soak (overnight) and then boil (for an hour) a big batch of chic peas every few days then store them in an extra-large mason jar in the fridge. Ready for action in falafel or humus when needed. The falafel mixture is best chilled, so prep ahead of time, then roll into balls and fry. Super quick and just one bowl to clean up.
4) Buddha bowls (a glorious bowl of healthy hearty goodness, fresh or roasted veggies, beans or lentils and a healthy grain topped with nuts and seeds with a delicious dressing). These can be prepped ahead of time, are a great way to use up leftovers and kids love them because of all the different colours and textures.
5) Pizza. This crust is a 5-minute job from simple ingredients, can be made ahead of time or immediately prior to popping into a super hot oven. My kiddies do eat cheese, actually they only eat plain cheese pizza. But for my vegan pizza it’s tomato sauce, fresh veggies, a sprinkling of Quinoa, some avocado, vegan mayo and fresh basil. Super quick and easy, your choice of toppings served with a salad, heaps of raw veggies or fresh fruit for desert.
There you have it, 5 quick, easy and healthy meals.
Lets inspire each other, please add your favourite easy meal ideas in the comments.
Interested in how you can source all the ingredients for these recipes without creating all the garbage? check out this post.
Or how about some quick and easy recipes for playdate/school lunch box snacks.
Thanks for popping in.