All parents are busy. Why? Because they have kids. And sometimes, that time between 5 and 7 pm is the hardest, most busiest time, especially if you’ve had a shocking day at work or if you are in a disorganized state. How the hell are you meant to come up with something wholesome, exciting, pretty, delicious and downright edible for your kid every night?
I’m married to a chef. A really good one. One that has worked in the finest dining establishments in Melbourne, who has slogged away at a stove (and loved every minute of it) for over half his life. When people find this little fact out, they get all ‘Oh. My. God. Do you like, eat THE BEST food every night?’ ‘Do you have THE BEST well stocked pantry?’ ‘Does he make your lunch?’ ‘You are so lucky!’
What people seem to forget is that when a chef works, it’s during those busy times… you know, between 5-7pm when people eat and are feeding their kids. I’m lucky enough that when we had Alfie, my hubby decided to change jobs and work closer to where we lived and closer to his son. My hubby is most likely now your chef, that is, if you eat at the Cornershop in Yarraville.
So what does a chef feed his two year old son?
I bet you are expecting stylized recipes that look like they’re straight from a fancy cookbook, or even specially curated menus that would make Heston Blumenthal sweat. Nope, we are just a normal family, surviving each 5-7pm period each day with the most basic of ingredients.
Our son can sense a vegetable from a mile away. He knows the word ‘yuck’ and definitely knows the word ‘no’. He also knows how to make a fake vomit noise, throw and climb and hide food under his thigh. And he certainly knows how to ‘share’ food with the Cheef Dog.
To us, a good meal for our boy is all in the name. Favourites include Monkey Muffins, Tiny Tacos, Meallion (makes a million meals), Froggy Fritters and Por Favor Patties.
So here’s some inspiration for tea from one normal family (with a chef) to yours. Bon appetite!
1 cup self raising flour
¼ cup caster sugar
50grams melted butter
¼ cup milk
2-3 very ripe bananas
Good handful of prunes, dates or whatever dried fruit takes your fancy.
Mix all ingredients into a batter and pour into a muffin tea. Into the oven set at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until you can put a skewer into a muffin and it comes out clean.
500 grams good quality mince
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup grated zucchini
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
Any other vegie you can find
Rocco’s Deli homemade pasata (from the fridge at the back)
Chicken stock to cover the ingredients by approx. 1cm
Salt and pepper
Thyme / Rosemary / oregano / marjoram or a mix of whatever herbs you have at hand
Brown the onions and meat, add vegies, stir a lot, add stock and pasata. Cook on a low heat, stirring regularly for 45 minutes. Add extra stock as required.
You can turn Meallion into a million meals. Add some kidney beans and put the mixture into flat bread to create Tiny Tacos (great with avocado and sour cream). Pop a spud in the oven and add the Meallion on top. You can also turn it into a quick cottage pie by adding smashed potato (or smashed cauliflower) on top.
4 grated zucchinis
1 cup of grated cheese
4 rashers chopped bacon
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup peas (can be frozen)
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients into a bowl. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg. Pour into a lamington tray and place in the oven set at 160 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Once cooled, cut the green zucchini slice into appealing shapes. Presto! Froggy Fritters.
Por Favor Patties
1 can of sustainable tuna
2 potatoes (boiled and smashed)
1 small sweet potato (boiled and smashed)
½ cup peas
2 cobs of fresh corn or 1 can of corn
1 cup of breadcrumbs (or enough to combine the mixture)
Allow the potatoes to bind all the ingredients together. Mould the mixture into balls the same size as a golf ball. Add olive oil to a hot pan and lightly pan fry the patties until they have a golden brown colour on the outside. Take out of the pan and place on paper towel to absorb any oil.
Serve with smashed avocado, scrambled eggs or even a little bit of Kewpie mayo. Por favor, please.
A key part of our crazy 5-7pm busy period is having options and a good, well stocked fridge and pantry. We have the fabulous Reno from Vari’s Organics deliver a fruit and vegetable box to us each week. At $35 a box, it’s great value and feeds our family well. For those nights where it’s all a bit too hard (i.e. when my hubby is working), I like to give my son some homemade produce, made by someone else with love: Rocco. Rocco’s Deli on Roberts Street in Yarraville has a great selection of homemade pasta sauces, bolognaise, lasagnes (veg and meat based), soups (their bean soup is amazing) and it ranges between $2-$8. It’s really handy to have these items in our fridge for those emergency nights.
I’m always happy to share our meals and recipes, but I would love to hear about what your kids have for dinner.