By ‘kids’ dinners’ I mean the kind that appears on bistro menus and are cheaper than the proper adult food.
The kind that you pull out of the freezer on ‘those nights’ when cooking is simply off the cards.
The kind that you know your kids WILL eat when you can’t face another night of dinner tantrums.
The kind that are a bit crap on the nutritional front, but are served up time and time again because of all of the above.
I’m not here to judge, we are all just doing what we can to get by, but I thought I might share a few of my secrets on how I ease my mum-guilt about my kids eating crappy kid-food. Not every night, but more often than I’d like.
1. I buy real breast chicken nuggets
Yes, they are still coated in gawd knows what, and yes, I could make my own, but this takes time, and the reason I am choosing an oven meal is that I don’t have any.
Also, my kids know the difference between bought and homemade, and the whole reason I’ve decided to serve chicken nuggets, instead of, I dunno, quinoa cakes, is because I don’t have any fight left in me! Who’s with me?
So I’ve taken to buying the ‘real breast’ version. This is a tad more expensive, BUT if I add a generous amount of veggies and a side of wholemeal couscous, then I don’t feel AS bad.
2. I add frozen spinach to spag bol
Another dinner winner in my house, and most households with young children, is spag bol. I confess to pouring in a pre-made sauce on these lazy nights and offset my guilt about that by chucking in frozen spinach and frozen veggies. It’s quick, it’s easy and those veggies are cut in teeny tiny pieces – perfect!
My kids don’t notice the green bits because they are too small, and the veggies get eaten because they are also hidden.
3. I buy ALDI salmon portions instead of fish fingers
This is not technically a crappy kids’ dinner (salmon is healthy!), but it does fall into the ‘lazy night’ category when you need one.
Instead of grabbing the box of fish fingers, I reach for salmon in my freezer.
ALDI have HUGE 1KG bags of salmon portions that are individually wrapped. I get a few dinners out of these as my boys share just one portion between them.
They love it, especially when I sometimes succumb to their pleases to add a few chippies. But when I do, I bribe them by making them eat their veggies first if they want any more. Tatics.
4. I add tuna to mac and cheese
My little loves will chow down on mac and cheese like it’s their last meal. As such, I do the same spag bol trick by adding some veggies, but this is a bit harder to be discreet. The sauce is light so frozen spinach will make it green and in their book, inedible. Instead, I keep the veggies chunky, such as broccoli, and carrot, but add a cob of corn on the side. They love a cob!
I also stir in a tin of springwater tuna. They like it. It’s low on flavour, and it gives a crappy kids’ meal a little bit of protein.
5. I buy low-salt snags and low-salt tommy sauce
Everyone loves sausages, but they can be laden in salt. Thankfully we can get low-salt versions these days at the supermarket, as well as low salt tomato sauce. So I do that.
It’s still a crappy kids’ dinner, just not AS crap as it could’ve been.