Do you ever find that dinner ideas get a little bit… stale? You do the same things week in, week out, mainly because you know the kids will eat what you’re offering and you won’t find yourself frustrated and throwing a bowl of cereal at them after an hour of creating something in the kitchen. According to a survey of 1500 parents with children aged 4-15 conducted by Young’s a lot of us parental peeps (46%) are guilty of cooking the same 4-5 meals on repeat, with 2/3 of us (65%) claiming that we only 8 recipes in our whole repertoire. It makes for a pretty dull meal rota doesn’t it? Spag bol, curry, sausages and mash, cheese on toast and sandwiches were amongst the favourites for dinner time, all of which I know I have used on a fairly regular basis, especially as work picked up for me and after Edith came along. It’s just… demoralising when you cook something and Edith declares its yuck before she’s even tried it, and I’ve noticed that it has the knock on effect with the others too.
I do love cooking though and a while back I mentioned on instagram that I’m getting back into the habit of meal planning, which means that I can sit down and think about what we could try out this week and what we could do that is guaranteed to be popular – a mixture of both. We’ve been having fajitas, roasted veg, stews and loads of different things but I can tell you one thing that rarely makes it on to our menu for the week (unless its from the chippy) is fish. Adam doesn’t like fish unless it’s fish and chips (be that homemade or shop bought) so we really have slipped into not bothering with it often – which is such a shame because fish is SO good for us, and now that Toby is humming and harring over being a vegetarian/pescatarian/I-occasionally-eat-mini-sausages-but-then-cry-over-the-pigs-atarian, fish is ideal as a choice for everyone.
Enter Young’s and The Youngsters. The boys (and Edith) were invited to be a part of The Youngsters panel – a panel of Young’s loving mini chefs and foodie critics, all children and all willing to give oh so honest opinions on the food they are served. We went and spent a day with Young’s in their Grimsby head office to develop and then taste several recipes that had been developed using Young’s products by the children and Young’s head chef Serge Nollent and nutritionalist Dr. Sarah Schenker. The children were hilarious, brutally honest and surprisingly happy to indulge in tasting food that I know they haven’t wanted to taste before. Even Edith tucked into Young’s cod fillet and asked for seconds, though true to form she refused to try any veggie chips but hey, it’s a start.
The recipes are intensely easy too, which any parent who has struggled with trying to do homework, wrangle a needy toddler and cook a meal all at the same time will know that it’s important that a meal pretty much takes care of itself. As well as being easy the recipes are balanced (thanks to Sarah’s watchful eye) and the children learnt that what they are eating is really important – Reuben is still clinging to the lesson about Vitamin A and loudly declaring that it is in his dinner if he spots something orange. It’s reassuring to see that this might well be something outside of my standard comfort zone, but that it is also something that is delicious AND balanced.
So what recipes did the boys like the best?
Youngs Chip Shop Large Cod Fillets With Vegetables Chips & Minty Crush Peas
1 PACK OF YOUNGS CHIP SHOP 4 LARGE COD FILLETS
Cook the Young’s Chip Shop Large Cod Fillets as per instructions on pack.
- 1 Large Carrot – peeled & cut into chips
- 1 Large Parsnip – peeled & cut into chips (Reuben didn’t like these so we’re going to go with more carrots and more sweet potato)
- 1 Sweet Potato – peeled & cut into chips
- 2tbsp Olive Oil
- 1tsp Smoked Paprika
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 190°C/ Gas mark 7.
- Place vegetables in a large bowl & sprinkle over smoked paprika & drizzle over the olive oil, season with black pepper & toss together so the vegetables become evenly coated.
- Transfer to a large baking tray & spread out to a single layer. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown & crisp.
- 300g Frozen Peas
- 20g melted Butter
- 1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1tsp Fresh Mint – Chopped
- Add peas to a pan of boiling water, bring back to boil and simmer for 2 minutes, drain well.
- Place the peas in a food processor or blender, add the melted butter, vinegar, chopped mint, process briefly making sure to retain some texture & season to taste.
Youngs Chip Shop Fish Fingers With Vegetable Stuffed Red & Yellow Peppers
2 PACKS YOUNGS CHIP SHOP 8 FISH FINGERS
Cook the Young’s Chip Shop 8 Fish Fingers as per instructions on pack.
VEGETABLE STUFFED PEPPERS
- 2 Large Bell Peppers – Red & Yellow – cut in half lengthwise and seeded
- 350g Frozen Mixed Vegetables – cooked according to directions on pack
- 250g brown rice – cooked according to directions on pack
- 80g Reduced Fat Mozzarella – grated
- 80g Cheddar Cheese – grated
- 150g Prepared Tomato Sauce (Fresh or Jar)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 5
- Lightly grease a shallow baking dish with olive oil.
- Combine the prepared mixed vegetables, cooked rice, ¾’s of the Mozzarella cheese & Cheddar cheese & the tomato sauce in a large bowl, check seasoning.
- Arrange peppers in prepared baking dish and spoon the mixture into the peppers.
- Pour ¼cup of water into baking dish around the peppers. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes, until peppers are tender.
- Remove foil and evenly sprinkle peppers with remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 finely chopped onions
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- ½ tsp of tomato puree
- 200 g can of chopped tomato
- ½ tsp of dried oregano
- Heat oil in pan and gently cook the onions until soft.
- Add garlic & sweat for 1-2 mins & add the tomato puree, stir wel.
- Add the chopped tomato and cooked gently for a further 5mins.
- Add oregano & check seasoning.
What really surprised me with Toby is that I have stuffed peppers before with mince and he hasn’t enjoyed it, but this he polished off with gusto, and with Reuben’s chosen dish, whilst I consider myself a pretty experimental mum in the kitchen, it had never occurred to me to roast veggie chips – it just hadn’t.
If you would like a bit of inspo and you feel like you’re one of the MANY people who is stuff in a bit of a culinary rut then you can find the remainder of the recipes here.