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The "Help Shiny To Feed Her Family" thread...

(53 Posts)
ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Wed 15-Oct-08 09:39:40

..if I may be so self-centred!

From today it's just me and the kids for the first time ever, and DH always did all the cooking and was rather good at it whereas I think I may be rather crap - in fact I know I am - because it wasn't/isn't something I've had to do, ever really.. or since DS1 was small... and I was no good at it then!

So I was wondering if I could tap into the vast amount of Mumsnet knowledge in this area and people could maybe post me some recipes/ideas/Idiot Proof instructions for family meals..

They need to be..
* Easy (don't underestimate the extent of my ineptitude (sp?) in the kitchen, but I imagine I will improve.. I need to - FAST!
* As inexpensive as possible. We have a small budget. (But years of being fed by DH means I won't/don't intend to feed us all the cheapest of stuff.. eg Asda SmartPrice full of hydrogenated rubbish..
* Varied. I am very afraid we will end up eating the same few things every week because I am unable to cook anything else! Please help me to avoid that..
* Quick - or quickish. Although I have never cooked, I have always been very busy doing lots of other things.. so I have never had to fit this into my day before - and I don't anticipate becoming an earth mother any time soon - I just want to be competent and ABLE to feed them adqequately, without using Crispy Pancakes (I have bought some blush) every day!

The kids are quite nervous about this aspect of our new family arrangement.. they know I am crap in the kitchen. When they were smaller they used to cry if I cooked.. before I even put it on the table and their taste buds confirmed their suspicions!!

They are no very special dietary requirements anymore. DS2 (8) used to be dairy/egg intolerant but is very newly, not, apparently!
DS1 (16) (who has cystic fibrosis) needs lots of fat and callories but I know how to bump up his calorie/fat content in his portions and he supplments heavily with "junk" food (not junk to him, he needs it)
DD (9) and I aren't fussy at all.

If you have an easy/nutritious recipe, please would you post indiot proof instructions to help me to become a self sufficent independant single mum!

Thanking you in advance Do appeciate it. Had been putting the cooking aspect out of my mind, what with the trauma-aspect of his moving out.. but today he goes.. and I have to think about it!

ggglimpopo Wed 15-Oct-08 09:50:22

small baking tray - fill with rice, enough to cover bottom upto about 2/3 cms. Choose your veg - courgettes or pumpkin or aubergine or leeks or whatever. Slice thickly and layer on rice. Put whole chicken onto veg and rice. Boil kettle. Put one or two stock cubes in a jug and then mix with boiling water. Pour stock over rice and chicken, you need double to cover rice and veg around double the amount of liquid to rice. You can also add slug of wine here! Drizzle olive oil over chicken. Sprinkle herbs and salt and pepper. Stick in oven for a good hour around 180°(depends on size of chicken - stick knife into thigh, juices should run clear, no blood).


Easy peasy and complete meal in one go.

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Wed 15-Oct-08 09:55:16

That sounds nice. Do I have to cook the chicken first Glimpopo? (I am completely ignorant of these matters, sorry )

CountessDracula Wed 15-Oct-08 09:56:05

We have a couple of very cheap family faves

Tuna gunge (so we call it!)

Make a white sauce (combine a tbsp of butter or oil with a heaped tbsp of flour. Mix it together and cook over a low heat, stirring, for about 2 mins. Then add some milk, wait for it to boil and stir in - keep stirring. Repeat until you have white sauce the consistency of thick custard.

Lob in a tin or two of tuna, a tin or two of tomatoes, some frozen veg, a splash of tabasco, salt and pepper. Doesn't need to cook for long maybe 10 mins. Serve with rice or pasta

Also beany soup/stew

chop carrots, celery and onions. Fry gently for 5 mins. Add 1 litre chicken stock or veg stock and cook for 20 mins. Add a tin of mixed beans, a tin of chick peas and any other bits you have hanging around (bacon, sausage, other veggies) plus a tin of tomatoes. Cook for 20 mins with lid off til reduced and thick. Serve with bread.
Is cheaper if you buy beans dried and soak overnight then cook. You can buy nice mixtures of beans or lentils etc, use any of them

ggglimpopo Wed 15-Oct-08 09:56:58

No, chicken cooks with rice.

littlelamb Wed 15-Oct-08 09:57:14

One thing I have recently tried to great success is a chicken itame that I ripped off from Wagamamas- me and dd always have that when we go there and it tastes just the same when I make it and is considerably cheaper. We make it with rice noodles- just cook them in a pan and put in to the bowl and put the soup on top- dd is 4 and loves this, despite being quite an unusual (but delicious!) taste.
Make up a big pot of the soup- no exact measurements, just throw in some chicken stock, about a teaspoon of fish sauce and some coconut milk, and stir through.
While thats bubbling, stir fry some chicken, chillis, onion, beansprouts, bok choi and any other veg you can think of- cut it quite big (we eat it with a fork and spoon) and then add to the soup. Pour over the noodles in a bowl and its done. You could use different noodles to try and up the calorie content, or try different kinds of meat. I make a big pot of it and it will do meals for several days and it's quite cheap really.

Cappuccino Wed 15-Oct-08 09:59:12

do you have a slow cooker? I did the easiest thing in the world yesterday. Will post it in recipes for you - macaroni casserole

Uriel Wed 15-Oct-08 10:02:10

I like this recipe of Gingerbear's, Shiny. I don't grate the carrots though, just chop them and parboil them before adding. I don't use the celery either as my kids don't like it.
It doesn't matter, it's a very forgiving recipe. Thanks, Gingerbear!

By Gingerbear on Wed 29-Mar-06 10:49:54

Fry 1 red onion, chopped,2 garlic cloves, crushed , 2 carrots, grated, 2 celery sticks, chopped finely in some oil until softened (5 mins) Then add 100g red lentils, one can chopped tomatoes (or 400g of fresh if you prefer), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, half a litre to one litre of vegetable stock (I add it slowly until the thickness of the bolognese is right)& finally 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, Salt and black pepper. Let is bubble away for 15 minutes or until the lentils are softened. I also like to add aduki beans, black beans and a teaspoon of cumin and fresh coriander to vary the flavour. Good with: wholewheat pasta pitta breads jacket potato Chips!!(DD's addition)

CountessDracula Wed 15-Oct-08 10:02:37

yes slow cooker/pressure cooker great for making yummy stews with cheap cuts

Sawyer64 Wed 15-Oct-08 10:03:28

Anything hereShiny?

mehgalegs Wed 15-Oct-08 10:05:00

Sausage HotPot is a favourite here. In a pan fry a chopped onion and a couple of chopped carrots. Add sausages (whole or chopped, I chop to make it go further.) Brown sausages and then add a tin of chopped toms, a tin of baked beans and a little water. i often add a splash of Worcester sauce and a squeeze of tommy K too. Let it all bubble on the stove top for about 40 mins.

Serve with mash and veg.

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Wed 15-Oct-08 10:11:24

These are all fab. When I can get my fecking printer working I am going to print them and but a board and stick them up in the kitchen. Til then I am going to be frantically jotting..

It's going to be Crispy Pancakes et al until I can go shopping for some of these ingredients..

CountessDracula Wed 15-Oct-08 10:14:02

Crispy pancakes? As in Findus ones?
Do they still make them??

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Wed 15-Oct-08 10:17:36

Yes they do CD blush And the Shiny family are very probably having them for tea... case of having to tonight really.. can't go shopping yet and want DS1 to eat before he helps H move out this evening..

All quite surreal really..

CountessDracula Wed 15-Oct-08 10:23:33

suzywong Wed 15-Oct-08 10:38:30

keep a big pot of minestrone on the go or make a vat and freeze it.

Do you want a recipe or would that be teaching you to suck eggs?

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Wed 15-Oct-08 10:56:23

Cheesy potato bake: Layers of sliced raw potato, chopped fried onions or leeks, grated cheese, and you can add some chopped cooked bacon or ham too if you want, all layered up in a casserole dish, with some milk seasoned with a bayleaf or mixed herbs, salt n pepper or simple white/cheese sauce poured over, and some crushed crisps/extra cheese scattered on top. Bakes until the potatoes are soft and top is brown.

Corned beef hash: Fry onions until translucent, add a chopped tin of corned beef, a few chopped spuds and a couple of chopped carrots (optional) dissolve a couple of beef oxo in some water, enough to cover. Add a squirt of tomato puree or even a splosh of tomato sauce, and a bit of pepper (no salt, corned beef is salty enough) Bring to the boil then cook gently for a couple of hours, giving it a stir occasionally to check it isn't running out of liquid and sticking.

Fishy pasta number 1: Fry some onion, then pour on water, milk and a knob of butter, bring to the boil and add a packet or two of cheese n broccoli pasta n sauce mix. Break up a couple of frozen white fish fillets and add to the mix, and you could add a tin of salmon for extra flavour. Chuck in some frozen broccoli, peas and sweetcorn (or whatever you have) and maybe an extra handful of dried pasta if you're worried it won't go round. At this point you can either cook gently until everything is cooked through (fast option) or transfer it all to an oven dish and cover in cheese/crushed crisps and grill until brown and crunchy on top.

Fishy pasta 2: In a pan, assemble the necessary water/milk/butter to make up a tomato and onion pasta n sauce, and a mushroom and wine pasta sauce (or anything ou think will go) bring liquids to the boil, add pasta, a tin or two of tuna, and a tin of chickpeas/kidney beans. Add a tbsp of tomato puree, and cook until pasta is done.

Sausage casserole: Fry sausages, onion, garlic. Chop sausages up. Add anything else you have lying around (celery, aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms) chopped up small. Then add a tin of baked beans, a tin of chopped tomatoes, salt n pepper, mixed herbs, even a handful of red lentils or a few chopped spuds. Bring to the boil then cook gently in a pan until all veg is soft and lentils are invisible, or (easier) chuck in a casserole dish and forget about it for a couple of hours.

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Wed 15-Oct-08 12:33:49

These are so great thank you. James those look quite doable <tres shock> and Suzy, sadly yes, egg sucking grandmothers are not relevant, I told you idiot proof instructions - I haven't a scooby-doo how to produce minestrone soup.. what do you take me for? A normal thirty six year old woman???! wink

suzywong Wed 15-Oct-08 14:59:44

OK then, I'll be gentle with you

For enough soup for 4 spread over 4 meals: Serve one lot, put one in the fridge where it will keep for 3 days, and two lots in the freezer:

3 onions
6 carrots
6 sticks of celery
2 leeks
150 ml olive oil
4 cans of chopped tomatoes
3 cans pulses like butter beans or chickpeas but ideally borlotti beans and never red kidney beans.
worcester sauce or red wine vinegar
herbs fresh or dry
extra veg for example - 3 courgettes, a couple of handful of frozen green beans, a cup of frozen peas, half a savoy cabbage very finely shredded
150g small pasta or broken up spaghetti
strong grated cheese to serve

1. In your largest saucepan that also has a lid heat the olive oil gently
2. chop the first 4 veg evenly ( I chop them to thumbnail size but you may prefer toenail or pinky) and add them to the oil. Add a good teaspoon of salt and stir round to coat them all with oil. Put the lid on and leave them alone for 15 minutes while they sweat it out.
3. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the juice. Add the flesh to the pan and turn up the heat slightly.
4. Add the aromatics - two teaspoons of dried herbs or a good handful of chopped fresh herbs like flatleaved parsely, basil or oregano, two bayleaves, a huge grinding of black pepper, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar or a very good glug of worcester sauce and two teaspoons of sugar. Stir it all around and let bubble for 5 minutes.
5. Add the reserved tomato juice and 200ml of hot water and the 3 cans of pulses including their juice. and stir. Put lid back on and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the other vegetables and the pasta, check the seasoning and put the lid back on for 5 minutes and let it bubble away.
7. Turn the heat off and leave it to sit for 10 minutes before serving with cheese and bread.

FioFio Wed 15-Oct-08 15:06:48

Message withdrawn

JamesAndTheGiantBanana Wed 15-Oct-08 16:20:44

No probs! Fio's list is really good <jots down>

FioFio Wed 15-Oct-08 16:30:35

Message withdrawn

SmugColditz Wed 15-Oct-08 20:26:37

Oh MY.

God you can tell I've always been brassic grin It shows so much in my 'cooking'.

Some smartprice/value things are cruddy. But some will be your friend. If your meat doesn't have to be free range organic, then value ice could be your friend, and definitely your children's friend - it's fattier than normal mince and is in fact very good for burgers.


1 big packet of mince
2 cooking onions, chopped into teeny pieces the size of ladybirds
1 egg
salt and pepper

smush all ingredients together raw. Fry in a medium hot pan with a little oil (or a lot, to add cals) and serve in bread buns with cheese on top, and salad on the sside. YOu have protein, veg and carbs, and not too many complaints, I imagine.


So simple my five year old is in charge of this

Buy a pizza dough mix, or make if you are feeling brave. get a tesco one, not a posh one, they are all flour, olive oil and yeast anyway. Make it to the (honestly simple) instructions.

Then get a tin of chopped tomatoes, and some grated cheese, some chopped ham and whatever veg your kids will eat, finely chopped. Spread the tomatoes on the dough quite thinly, put all the other ingredients on, then the cheese.

Bake in the oven until the cheese bubbles, serve with carrot sticks and salady bits.

Chicken thighs are easy and tasty - bake them in the oven and use them wherever you used to use chopped breast meat. Stir fry them with a box of bean sprouts, some chopped red pepper, onion and mushrooms, and add thinly sliced ginger, peeled and crushed garlic cloves and the juice of a lime.

Fresh fish - you can't reallly go wrong with most fish by wrapping it in foil and putting it in the oven. When it is cooked, the flesh will flake if you poke it with a knife - check the fattest bit of the fish but again, you are unlikely to dmage yourself if it's a bit underdone.

Stews MAKE THESE AT LUNCHTIME FOR DINNER - - you need shin beef. It is cheap. If you are using a butcher forr it, just ask, but if, like me, you buy it in a supermarket, you need to look for the round thick cuts of stewing/braising steak - this will be shin.

Now, dip each side of it in flour, and fry in oil for a bit, until the flour is all browned and golden and starting to smell good. Then put it in a casserole pot with a chopped onion, plenty of pepper, a couple of chopped carrots and some potatoes if they will fit - add stock up to the top (oxo or posh - I use oxo) and put in oven on about 150 for 5+ hours.

JACKET POTATOES - chicken joints and jacket potatoes done in the same oven, with beans (and cheese for cals?)

COWBOY PIE - mince, fine ladybird onion, and baked beans with a hint of chilli (use fresh, or sauce, or powder) topped with fresh mashed potato and cheese, baked until brown in the oven - cook the mince and onion until brown in a frying pan FIRST

There's other stuff, Miaow is a good one to search for, she knows what she's on about.

SmugColditz Wed 15-Oct-08 20:28:29

For BURGERS, I forgot to say, make tyhem into burger shapes before you fry them. And this mix also works for meatballs - make into ball shapes, bake in oven for 20 minutes on 200C and serve with spaghetti and tinned toms and garlic

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Thu 16-Oct-08 08:29:00

Making James's sausage casserole for this evening. Wish me luck!

(I burnt the Fidnus Crispy Pancakes btw!! hmm)

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