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Meal planners- how do you deal with this?

(24 Posts)
homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 15:28:02

I meal plan - have done for a long time. Kids have lots of choice at school lunchtime so while I try to take into account what they might be having for lunch when planning school day tea times, I am increasingly getting complaints that what I offer is not enough ("food ran out because we were last in Mum") or too similar to what they had ("I didn't have x [what I thought they would have] because I fancied y")

Because of the plan I don't have much "spare" food around and neither do I have mind reading skills grin

Apart from sandwiches what would you rustle up if having to go "off piste" from the plan- I'm thinking things in the freezer or cupboard that can be cooked quickly but which are not crumbed or involve eggs

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 15:33:09

I should add that I have a bottomless pit in the shape of 15 year old DS and fussy 12 year old DD

50shadesofbrown Wed 17-Apr-13 15:43:04

Hi Home
Similar problem to mine (although my difficult customer is DH! as his appetite varies wildly & I am trying to lose the baby weight. I often do:
Pasta & pesto (there is a vegan pesto available at some health food shops that will last a really long time in your fridge, so although it's not the cheapest price per jar, I find it works out really economical).
Baked potato, you can do them in the microwave if you have one, just make sure you stab it with a fork several times before putting it in to cook, or it will explode.
Old favourites - beans on toast, bacon sandwiches.

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 15:52:56

50shades-thanks! I like your ideas but my point is that I wouldn't necessarily have bacon or baking potatoes in the house ready to cool on the off chance! And I don't have the time to defrost before needing to cook (DS doesn't get home till after 6pm and needs something NOW!!). So I'm after ideas of things I can cook out of the cupboard or freezer that are substantial and quick. Pesto pasta is a fave with a tin of tuna and some frozen peas but no good if they have had the pasta option at school! It does my head in wink

unebagpipe Wed 17-Apr-13 16:00:12

I tend to meal plan, but can swap meals round during the week... Would this help? Otherwise, breaded frozen fish, chips and peas are an emergency meal in this house. Or home made egg fried rice with frozen veg (carrots,peas, sweet corn) and shredded 'omelette' thrown in. We use a couple of Tilda microwave packets of rice, or a couple of bags of supermarket frozen rice!

ohforfoxsake Wed 17-Apr-13 16:04:55

You can freeze any sauce - Bolognese, curry, chilli, lentil stew - defrost in a pan while the pasta/rice cooks. You can also serve them in a jacket potato if you happen to have any in (stick a metal skewer through and they cook in half the time).

M&S do a decent selection of tinned Currys and stuff to have in the cupboard. Toasted sandwiches, stuffed pittas, fish finger sarnies,

Cheese sauce is a 10 min job, macaroni cheese?

Nachos with the frozen/tinned M&S chilli?

MrsHoarder Wed 17-Apr-13 16:10:28

Not got school aged children yet but whenever I plan something that its possible to put in the freezer I plan at least one extra portion to freeze. If someone is very hungry they can have it, otherwise it goes in the stash for ill/late in/cba days.

pollywollydoodle Wed 17-Apr-13 16:27:09

tell the kids in advance what they are having for dinner, then it's their choice if they end up having pasta twice etc

whenever we make stew/curry/pasta sauce/lasagne/pie/pasties, we freeze some as single portions . Then they just need microwaving from frozen while the rice or pasta is cooking

dd & dh like wrap pizzas: tomato paste+/- pesto on a grilled wrap. sprinkle with cheddar ( can store cheese grated and frozen and freeze pesto in ice xube trays) add a sliced mushroom if you have one. grill till bubbly

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 16:32:54

Ooh didn't know about frozen rice and tinned stuff! Thanks

Wolfcub Wed 17-Apr-13 16:33:15

I make and freeze part cooked potato wedges which you can cook and serve in a tomato sauce with some cheese on top as a potato wedge bake. I've also in the past done hm chicken nuggets - cut up chicken breast coated in red or green pesto then rolled in breadcrumbs and frozen, you can do similar with strips of fiah but I find a pack of breaded or battered frozen fish are handy for emergency dinners when we can't be bothered or don't want what is planned. I also make, half bake, and freeze pizza bases which can be topped and cooked from frozen. But, I'd be tempted to stick to the plan you drew up and not allow haggling as this leads to wasted food and overspending. I write my plan on a blackboard in the kitchen each week so everyone knows what's planned. if you did this they could make informed choices at school as you've said there are a range of options they could choose from and they are old enough to understand that costs mean one choice only at home. why not let them nominate one dish each a week for then menu plan.

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 17:44:30

Great ideas wolf! My plan is writ large on the fridge each week yet still the moans come grin

snoworneahva Wed 17-Apr-13 17:47:22

I plan but not in that much detail. Most meals can be shifted from day to day and if they end up having the same thing twice in one day, they would not be too bothered and neither would I. Actually dd would eat pasta 3 times a day if she was allowed. wink

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 17-Apr-13 17:55:22

My planned meals tend to take about the same amount of time to cook, so as long as nothing needs defrosting/needs eating today, I can just swap things round fairly easily.

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 18:33:07

I find shifting around quite difficult if the meal requires something to be defrosted earlier in the day- do you cook everything from chilled instead?

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 17-Apr-13 18:39:47

Yes mostly. It's normal only meat for the last few meals that might need defrosting, but if I plan sausages, Bacon etc that lasts longer for then I can keep most stuff in the fridge.

I don't really batch cook.

FairyPenguin Wed 17-Apr-13 18:53:53

Frozen prawns are brilliant. I know you said not eggs, but I often rustle up a prawn fried rice with frozen peas, sweet corn and eggs. But you could leave out the egg. Prawns can be defrosted very quickly - soak in cold water.

Or prawn pasta with a tomatoey sauce, or with pesto. Or a prawn and noodle soup (buy dried noodles), or get those noodles that are ready to fry (not fresh, cupboard ones), add some teriyaki sauce/soy sauce/sesame oil. Chop spring onions and freeze in bulk, add a handful from the freezer.

Carbonara! We always have pancetta in the fridge as it keeps for ages, and if it gets close to best before date, stick in the freezer, but we tend to use it up most of the time. You can make carbonara with eggs or with creme fraiche.

Ooh - fry a tin of anchovies with some frozen garlic until all melted, add packet breadcrumbs, toss into cooked pasta. THIS IS DELICIOUS!

I have bagels in the freezer which you can toast from frozen, so at least it's a slight variation on sandwiches.

How about pancakes? With cheese and ham?

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 17-Apr-13 18:59:26

Rice, tuna, peas and mayo is quick and filling too.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 17-Apr-13 19:00:31

Oh doh, mayo has eggs in doesn't it? Sorry.

Hmm. Tins of soup?

snoworneahva Wed 17-Apr-13 19:13:45

I have some meals in the freezer that need to be used up, mostly I defrost in the microwave. Fish tonight is frozen but doesn't need to be defrosted before cooking. Most stuff is cooked from fresh though, most of the meat in the fridge is best before Sunday. And I only plan 6 meals a week - we have a leftovers/using up bit and pieces night. I try to keep my freezer as empty as possible.

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 19:27:15

Tewi-mayo is fine. It's just eggs as eggs which are deemed gross. So rustling up an omelette or scrambled eggs on toast which would be quick nutritious and filling is out hmm

Now pancakes is a fab idea- why should they be once a year?!

homebythesea Wed 17-Apr-13 19:28:28

It sounds like I am a slave to my freezer- maybe time to rethink that a bit!

fieldfare Wed 17-Apr-13 19:33:00

Shall I be the only meany and say that if they don't want what has been planned, prepared and dished up then they could have yoghurt/fruit/toast/cereal/"it" on toast?

There's no way my Mum would ever have prepared more than one meal, regardless of what I'd chosen to eat during the day. From 11 years old I cooked one dinner a week for the family and if I didn't fancy what my Mum cooked I had one of the above options to chose from. It's similar rules now for my dd, although she's only 10.

ohforfoxsake Wed 17-Apr-13 19:40:10

Mine get what is on the board, and if they've had fish twice that day, that's the way it is.

Bagels feature heavily as after activity snacks.

eslteacher Wed 17-Apr-13 20:34:58

Tins and add-boiling-water things seem to be the answer.

Don't know if you ever make it over here to France, but if you do then stock up on big tons of cassoulet and sausicce-lentilles. Inexpensive and genuinely nice fast-food from tins. I couldn't be without them at the back of my pantry.

You can also get lots of add-water tabouleh (kind of couscous with added seasonings and veg) which come in little bags that can sit in your pantry for ages until you're ready to use.

Not sure to what extent the above is available in the UK though.

I also like a tin of kidney beans with a tin of sweet corn plus some spice of your choice all fried up for 10m as a quick side.

I find that pork chops can handle speed defrosting in the microwave and then being cooked straight after slightly slower than usual, but don't know if its officially recommendable...

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