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Salt - how much is too much, and can someone suggest easy peasy quick cooked from scratch meals?

(15 Posts)
Essie3 Sun 30-Aug-09 15:40:55

My DS is over 14 months. I'm struggling somewhat being a 'single parent' lots of the time, because I get back from work, need to feed him and feed me before he gets to bed, and so I usually give him a jar because I can't manage to cook a meal that both of us can/will eat (I'm veggie.)

The salt issue - first, how much is DS allowed to have, and can someone spell it out to me (because grams etc mean very little to me!)

If I cook some pasta with a packet sauce for me, say, Tesco's finest cherry tomato sauce, or Ragu, can he also eat that? Or is there too much salt in it?
His breakfast is weetabix, lunch is at nursery/my mum's (she cooks him 'real' food but from scratch without salt), so it's only the evening meal that's stressing me out. And just to explain, the stress is coming home from work, and either playing with him or cooking an Annabel Karmel number from scratch for us both to eat. What I'm after is something that doesn't require 15 minutes prep and 30 minutes cooking, but can be done in about 15, max, which we can both eat, allowing me to spend time with him.

Sorry, all very pathetic.

FaintlyMacabre Sun 30-Aug-09 15:58:23

My favourite 'instant' pasta sauce-
1-2 tomatoes per person, roughly chopped (and skinned if you can be bothered) 1 clove garlic, chopped- cook in a little olive oil until the tomatoes have broken down and gone mushy. Add a cube of frozen spinach (or more), and bash about until melted. At the last minute stir in a dollop of Philedelphia. This takes as long as the pasta does to cook.

Frittatas are also good and fairly quick- chop up whatever vegetables you have to hand- potatoes, peppers, frozen spinach (again!), onions are all good and fry in olive oil until soft, then beat some eggs (quantity will depend on how much veg, but 1-2 per person) and pour over. Cook until set.

Not sure about the salt, I'm afraid.

Umlellala Sun 30-Aug-09 15:59:05

Hey there, my dc probably have slightly too much salt. I try to make sure that if we cook from scratch we don't add any so that when he does get processed stuff it counteracts it. And drink lots of water.

Anything i buy I look at the sodium content on the back - basically - less than/about 0.4g per 100g is kind of ok. Over 0.6g would be high - some crisps/ready sauces have 1g!!! This is a bit simplistic (as obviously some things you eat lots of and others less so. and cheese has a lot of salt etc) but a reasonably easy guide.

Re pasta sauces, you can buy a tin of (value!) chopped tomatoes then add herbs or frozen peppers or ready diced onions. Really quick and no salt at all. I buy salt n shake crisps and then don't add salt...

Am sure others will be along with some fab recipes.

Not pathetic at all, I only learnt to cook really when dd came along (and lucky cos dh does most of the cooking now). Can totally understand not wanting to lose out on time with him - can you get him involved as he gets bigger?

BornToFolk Sun 30-Aug-09 15:59:16

Batch cook. You can make a huge batch of tomato sauce, freeze it, then all you need to do is defrost it, cook up some pasta and you've got a meal for both of you. I also use the same tomato sauce over a tin of chickpeas and serve with some cous cous. Or it can be used as a base on pizza. My sauce is a load of veg (onions, garlic, peppers, celery, cougette, whatever) sweated in a pan, add a tin of tomatoes (or two for a big batch) and cook until all veg is soft, then blend.

I always have a cheese sauce in the freezer too and use it to make cauliflower or macroni cheese, or as a topping for a baked potato with some veg mixed in. I am a big fan of mixed frozen veg, you can just chuck a handful in.

I also batch cook curries, stews etc and then just cook up the rice or whatever on the day.

I have no clue about salt blush. DS is 22 months old. He generally eats what we have. I don't add salt to any food, and avoid giving him too many processed things. So I personally wouldn't give him jarred pasta sauce or ready made soup or things like that.

Does he have a big meal at nursery/your mum's? If so, you could just do him snacky kind of teas - egg or beans on toast, or soup, or a toasted sandwich.

Essie3 Sun 30-Aug-09 16:52:17

Oh, thanks so much, everyone. I think I had got all caught up in the Annabel Karmel (etc) mindset where if you haven't spent 2 hours lovingly preparing miniature quiches and culinary masterpieces, then you'd better watch out for social services... I also had a big fear of 'easy' food like frozen veg...
Of course I can make a tomato sauce out of tinned toms! Duh! Thanks, Bornto and faintly.

I make a cheese sauce for me out of creme fraiche and cheddar (or whatever) - that's it. So that would be ok? And my pasta with veg in a greek yog and pesto sauce? Also ok?

I thought I ate food he couldn't eat - but maybe not?

BornToFolk Sun 30-Aug-09 18:28:41

Easy food is your friend! grin Pasta with greek yoghurt and pesto sounds lovely and ideal toddler food, IMHO. Pesto and cream cheese is another good easy pasta sauce.

PrincessToadstool Sun 30-Aug-09 19:30:15

At 14 months as long as you're not adding salt to food I wouldn't be that worried really - DS was eating things like pasta sauces, risottos, casseroles etc with us at that age. If you prefer a bit of salt add it to your plate rather than during cooking, but since cutting it out completely we don't miss it at all, but never used much before I suppose.

Creme fraiche, cheddar, pesto etc all fine.

BBC Good Food is my favourite website for recipes.

ktpie Sun 30-Aug-09 19:50:53

The things you eat sound fine to me, check the salt content on the jars this shows you what you should be aiming for. They can have more once they reach a year old. Also from the same website this tells you what the recommended amounts are.

What about stir fries? They are my really quick dinner, you can always take some out before adding soy sauce or whatever you use to avoid the salt.

DebInAustria Sun 30-Aug-09 20:19:06

Ethan now eats what we're having which sometimes includes ready made sauces but not every day. What I tend to do is whenever I cook a proper dinner is put some in a bowl in the fridge for him the next day, and a couple in the freezer.I'd never frozen pasta before but it works OK, so if you eat later than him cook a little bit more, put some in the fridge for tomorrow - hey presto a toddler size ready meal for when you get in from work.

abdnhiker Sun 30-Aug-09 20:26:39

Fraser eats the same thing as we all do - omlettes are good and quick as is spaghetti carbonara (cook spag, toss with 2 eggs and a teaspoon of water and put back on heat to set). I serve the spag on a bed of greens for the adults but just plain for the kids. Eggs are the easiest fast food.

cara2244 Sun 30-Aug-09 20:40:56

I do a really quick one pan pasta dinner - boil up your pasta and add some green veg to the pan. Brocolli works well, or kale, or french beans. When it's all cooked, drain and then stir in some philly cheese (or Bousin is nice) and black pepper. Philly cheese is lower salt than normal cheeses (1%) so I tend to use it quite a bit.

I am useless at batch cooking and freezing (never remember to defrost in time) so tend to stick to one pan meals when I'm short of time. A steamer is useful as you can steam your veg (and fish if you eat it) and then serve with couscous - neither of which need to be watched when cooking.

Cies Sun 30-Aug-09 20:50:50

I would use tinned pulses to ring the changes. Plus some spices - make a curry one day and Italian style the next with basically the same ingredients.

Essie3 Mon 31-Aug-09 12:11:14

Thanks everyone. I was feeling all failure-like but then I realised that in fact I'm not really that disastrous! I even made a massive batch of tomato sauce last night - Annabel Karmel recipe, lol - with 3 tins of toms. It took 5 minutes start to finish.

Also I'm reasoning that DS won't immediately die if I give him something a little too salty 1 night out of 7, (he had some of my tofu last night, which had soy sauce on it, but only 1 piece and he wasn't keen anyway) but I'm careful.

I think I'd just got into this 'must cook special meals or I don't love him' mindset when in fact DS will eat anything, especially if it's something I'm eating, and my crap cooking (I can only do plain and practical stuff) may not be great for impressing people at dinner parties but will easily feed a toddler.

Ooh, so philosophical! But thanks for all the tips and support.

PrincessToadstool Mon 31-Aug-09 18:53:31

You make a good point Essie, I try to think of salt intake over a few days rather than isolate it - we occasionally do a stir fry with lots of soy sauce and DS loves it.

bitofadramaqueen Tue 01-Sep-09 13:10:13

Essie our DS also eats pretty much what we have now. We just try and avoid adding salt or using regular stock cubes (if need be we take his portion out before adding some salt).

We (well, DH grin) does a lot of cooking in advance for the freezer - chilli, curry, stews, one-pot type recipes, risotto etc etc. We get home from work/nursery late during the week so it's perfect for a quick reheat and add some rice or whatever - it usually has lots of veg in it too which helps ease my worries about feeding him enough veg. We have a lot of stir fries too - we did find a sauce in Sainsbury's that is low in salt. I second bbc good food btw - we get the magazine and use a lot of recipes from it.

Other favourites for quick dinners (on nights when we want to eat later like grown ups, or when we're having something completely unsuitable) are soup (again, make in advance and keep in the freezer) and sandwiches (hummus, cream cheese), toast and cheese, toast with mashed banana and avocado, cheesy pesto pasta (basically pasta with small amount of pesto and a load of cheddar stirred in), pasta with home made tomato sauce.

If we're really stuck we have a few of the M&S kids meals in the freezer. Whinegums and Viva put me on to them and they've been a bit of a hit. (Processed food from M&S is fine surely grin ).

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