If there’s one thing I’ve learned very quickly as a mum, it’s to have mealtimes planned well and in advance. The alternative, as most parents would attest, is not pretty. What begins as a niggling ‘I’m hungry, Mum’ can blow out to ‘I’m-not-hungry, I’m-starving’ mode in minutes.
So to save my sanity – and maybe yours – here are two of my favourite go-to family meals. Both are kid-friendly, flexible (in terms of ingredients) and not too hard on the grocery budget.
The quesadilla complements a much broader variety of ingredients than the familiar Mexican staples like cheese and beans (although these still taste great).
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Roast vegetables, feta or goats cheese, baby rocket (arugula)
- Chorizo, roasted red capsicum (red pepper), baby spinach
- Shredded chicken, basil pesto, semi or sundries tomatoes, baby spinach
- Lightly mashed chickpeas, sliced avocado, fresh tomato, sea salt
- Leg ham, sliced pineapple, grated tasty cheese, seeded mustard
- Fresh basil leaves, sliced tomato, bocconcini, cracked black pepper
- Crispy bacon, mashed avocado, tomato and sweet corn salsa
- Sautéed potato and red onion, Italian (continental) sausage, fresh parsley
Lettuce Cups (San Choi Bau)
Most of you are probably familiar with san choi bau, which is believed to originate from China, though there are many theories, ideas and spelling variations. In its most basic form, san choi bau (a.k.a. lettuce cups) usually consists of minced meat flavoured with ginger, garlic, soy and oyster sauce and lightly fried, then served in iceberg lettuce leaves with bean sprouts and fresh coriander.
There are many things I love about san choi bau: In family meal terms, it lends itself to countless flavour and ingredient combinations, both mild and mature; it’s fun (albeit messy) finger food for the kids, plus it encourages kids (and grown-ups) to create their own food adventure by assembling the cups themselves from a selection of raw and cooked ingredients.
The most important part of this dish is texture – so no matter how you choose to approach it in flavour terms, make sure you include lots of freshness and crunch.
Here are some variations on the lettuce cup theme for you to try:
- Minced chicken, bok choy (pak choi), satay sauce, pineapple, roasted peanuts
- Minced beef, taco sauce, tomato, red onion, avocado, lightly crushed corn chips
- Thinly sliced rump steak, sautéed mushrooms and potato, curly parsley, crisp fried shallots
- Shredded chicken, grated carrot and beetroot, sweet chilli sauce, bean sprouts, fresh coriander
- Rice noodles, minced pork, sliced chilli, Thai basil, red capsicum, fresh lime
- Prawns (shrimp) sautéed with garlic and broccolini (baby broccoli), roasted cashews
- Thinly sliced pork steak, finely shaved fennel and granny smith apple, ginger, spring onion
- Chickpeas sautéed in garlic and cumin, tabbouleh, natural yoghurt, crisp fried flat bread
Have you got a go-to family favourite for mealtimes? Share it with us in the comments below.