With the children at home at the moment food prep and meal planning can seem like a daily slog. But there are a few ways you can make the constant demands for meals and snacks a little easier! The recipes in my new cookbook We’re Hungry are all designed to make batch cooking easy and achievable for the modern family.

Recipes from We’re Hungry! by Ciara Attwell is now available in hardback and eBook, £16.99 (Lagom). Shop the book now at Waterstones or Bookshop.org.

Smoothie Bags

First up, my make-ahead Smoothie Bags will make prepping breakfast every morning a little easier. Fill bags with pre-measured ingredients and store in the freezer. In the morning, simply take out and add milk of your choice for a simple and super healthy addition to breakfast. I’ve given a few examples of my favourite smoothies but you can totally play around with these and come up with your own recipes too.

These make-ahead smoothie packs are super handy to have in the freezer. All the ingredients are pre-measured and bagged up, ready to pop straight into the blender in the morning.

  • Serves: 2
  • Prep time: 2 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 minutes
  • Equipment: Blender or smoothie maker

Gluten free, egg free, nut free, vegetarian.

Ingredients

Berry Blitz:

  • 200g frozen berries
  • 50g oats
  • 30g fresh baby spinach

Chocolate Chia:

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 100g plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Tropical Burst:

  • 200g frozen tropical fruit
  • 30g cashew nuts
  • 1 satsuma, peeled

Creamy Banana:

  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 50g diced cauliflower (see page 161)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Add the ingredients to a freezer bag, push out the air and seal shut.
2. Freeze for up to 2 months.
3. When ready to make, add the contents of the bag, straight from the freezer, to a blender.
4. Add 500–600ml milk of your choice (dairy or non-dairy) and blitz until smooth.
5. Serve immediately.

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Lazy Lasagne

Next, my Lazy Lasagne is absolutely perfect for busy mid-week meals. Most kids love lasagne but making it takes quite a bit of time and a lot of different pots and pans. My method uses just one pot, cooked on the hob in 30 minutes. And the leftovers are just as delicious warmed up for lunch the following day!

Take all the stress and hassle out of lasagne by making it all in one pot on the hob. It’s quicker, easier and leaves you with far less washing up!

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Equipment: Large pan or shallow casserole dish

Egg-free, nut-free.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 500g beef mince (or veggie equivalent)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 450ml beef stock
  • 150ml red wine or more stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 200g dried lasagne sheets
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 25g grated Parmesan
  • 50g grated Cheddar cheese

STORING

Leftovers can be cooled and kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Heat thoroughly in the microwave or on the hob before serving.

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or casserole dish.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and fry for 2–3 minutes on a medium heat.
  3. Add the beef mince and fry for another few minutes until the mince has browned.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, red wine (if using), tomato purée and oregano.
  5. Bring the mixture to the boil and then add the lasagne sheets, breaking each into 4 or 5 pieces as you add them in.
  6. Simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure that the lasagne sheets don’t stick together.
  7. Mix the crème fraîche, parmesan and Cheddar together in a bowl and then add to the top of the lasagne in 7 or 8 spoonfuls.
  8. Cook for another 2–3 minutes to allow the cheese mixture to heat through and then serve.

Chicken Tacos

If you really want to get ahead of family meals earlier in the day then I cannot recommend a slow cooker enough. Chuck all the ingredients on in the morning and by the evening you’ll have a delicious dinner ready to serve up. My Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos are a firm favourite in my house. They’re also great for fussy eaters who like to choose all their own toppings.

Zesty chicken tacos cooked in the slow cooker and topped with all your favourite toppings. These are sure to be a new mid-week favourite!

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 3-6 hours
  • Equipment: Slow cooker

Dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 500g chicken breasts
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 peppers, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • taco shells,
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded cabbage (white or red)
  • fresh coriander
  • guacamole
  • grated Cheddar cheese
  • wedges of lime, to serve

STORING

Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated in the microwave.

FREEZING

Put the chicken filling in a freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave or on the hob.

METHOD

1. Mix the chilli powder, ground cumin and paprika in a small bowl.
2. Place the chicken on a plate and coat in the spice mix, rubbing it in well to the meat.
3. Add the tinned tomatoes, garlic, onion and peppers to the slow cooker and mix.
4. Add the chicken on top and then squeeze over the lime juice.
5. Cook for 3–4 hours on high or 4–6 hours on low.
6. Take 2 forks and shred the chicken into small pieces.
7. Serve immediately with taco shells and all your favourite toppings.

Sneaky Diced Cauliflower

Diced cauliflower is so handy to have in the freezer ready to be added to lots of different recipes. This is brilliant for fussy eaters who normally would not touch cauliflower if served up whole!

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep time: 6 minutes
  • Cook time: NA
  • Equipment: Food processor (but not essential)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium whole cauliflower

STORING

The blitzed cauliflower will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

FREEZING

Add the blitzed cauliflower to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. It can be added direct

from frozen to all recipes.

Method

1. Remove the green stalks from the cauliflower and cut off the majority of the stem.
2. Cut the rest into small florets. Add to a food processor and blitz. Be careful not to over-blitz the cauliflower. We want to break it down into the consistency of cous cous but not over-process it so that it starts to become mushy.
3. You can also do this with just a knife. Cut the florets up very finely. The result will be a little more chunky than if you use a food processor, but it works just fine.
4. Add the diced cauliflower to lots of recipes such as Creamy Banana Smoothie.

Cheesy Leek Risotto

With my Cook Once Eat Twice recipes you’ll feel like a food prep master! These recipes take the leftovers and turn them into a new and completely different meal the following day. Take my Cheesy Leek Risotto for example. Serve it up for dinner today and tomorrow you can use the leftover to make super tasty Baked Arancini.

This risotto recipe couldn’t be any easier to make. It’s all baked in the oven meaning you don’t have to stand over the stove adding stock and stirring. So simple! And you can turn leftover risotto into delicious baked rice balls for a completely new and fun dinner the next day.

  • Serves: 4, plus leftovers
  • Prep time: 4 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Equipment: Large frying pan or shallow casserole dish

Gluten-Free, egg-free, nut-free, vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 medium leeks, finely diced
  • 450g risotto rice
  • 1.8 litres hot vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 75g grated Cheddar cheese
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salad, to serve

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.

2. Add the oil, onion, garlic and leeks to a large shallow casserole dish and bake for 5 minutes.

3. Add the rice, stock and thyme and cook for 30–40 minutes until the stock has absorbed and the rice is cooked, stirring a few times.

4. Add more stock to the dish if you think it’s getting too dry at any stage.

5. Stir in the Cheddar, Parmesan and butter and mix well.

6. Serve with salad.

Baked Arancini

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Equipment: Baking tray

Nut free, vegetarian.

Ingredients

  • 30g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g panko breadcrumbs
  • leftover Cheesy Leek Risotto
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • side salad or crudités, to serve

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Put flour in one bowl, crack the eggs into a second bowl and whisk gently with a fork.

3. Then add the panko breadcrumbs to a third bowl.

4. Take about 2 heaped tablespoons of the leftover risotto, roll it with your hands into a ball. Roll it in the flour, dip in the egg and then coat in the panko breadcrumbs.

5. Place on the baking tray and then repeat with the rest of the risotto.

6. When they’re ready to cook brush the top of the rice balls with a little oil, then bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden brown and heated through.

7. Serve

Popcorn Bars

Finally, no family cookbook would be complete without an extensive chapter on snacks! All my snack recipes can be made in bulk and kept for a few days or frozen too. These Popcorn Bars are so easy to make and real treat for kids, especially at the moment when they’re at home.

Kids will absolutely love these chocolate Popcorn Bars. Ideal for a tasty treat after school!

  • Makes: 12
  • Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 45 minutes freezing time
  • Cook time: NA
  • Equipment: Baking dish, large mixing bowl and large jug

Egg-free, nut-free, vegetarian.

Ingredients:

  • 50g popcorn (already popped)
  • 50g cornflakes
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter

STORING

These bars need to be kept in the fridge and will last for 4–5 days.

METHOD

  1. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a 25 x 21cm dish but any similar size dish is fine.
  2. Put the popcorn and cornflakes in a large bowl. Crush with your hands just to break them down a little.
  3. Place the milk chocolate, dark chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave.
  4. Pour the melted mixture into the bowl and mix quickly until everything is well combined.
  5. Transfer the mixture into the dish and press down with the back of a spoon to make it as compact as possible.
  6. Place the dish in the freezer for 45 minutes and then cut into 12 squares.

Order your copy today

Recipes from We’re Hungry! by Ciara Attwell is publishing 18th February in hardback and eBook, £16.99 (Lagom). Shop the book now at Waterstones or Bookshop.org

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