Meal Planner (Archive)

Week starting 23rd January


So it hasn’t been the best of weeks so far, I’ve been struck down with a nasty virus for the last 4 days and amongst the nausea and ear pain haven’t felt much like eating, cooking or even thinking about food. Great start to a meal planner blog, no?

I suppose it has been fortunate so far that the kids haven’t been struck down too as that would have added a whole new dimension of hell but that fact has also meant that they still need feeding. And hence, here is my rather simple, hastily thought through meal planner for this week!

Today we have had pasta with meatballs which is usually a winner with the kids but today Edie decided she doesn’t like meatballs. In fact she seems to be going through a doesn’t like meat at all phase actually which is keeping life “interesting”. Personally I’d be quite happy to be a vegetarian 90% of the time (the odd steak when eating out still entices) and the husband has also declared he wants to eat less meat so looks like that’s our direction for the time being.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I’m keeping it beyond simple with tomato soup (not homemade) and fish fingers. I realise that this is hardly inspiring stuff but I guess it’s right to share that when life throws illness, 2 days in London for me and hungry kids at us then we just eat fish fingers too.

On Thursday I’m hoping to resume some semblance of normality with a go at a Szechuan stir fry. I found this one on the Jamie Oliver Ultimate app which is a paid for app but I think worth the money given the amount of recipes you get compared to your average cookbook. I’ve shared the recipe on our recipes page in case you fancy checking it out.

I’m sincerely hoping that I feel back to normal by Friday as we are having friends over to sample an epic curry courtesy of a subscription to The Spicery that my sister Cara bought me for Christmas. This is essentially a subscription for bespoke spices which come with a recipe card for meals that you can make with those spices – this month it’s a chicken jalfrezi with various accompaniments and also a tagine dish which we’ll try next week. You can see more detail about The Spicery on the link below. Really looking forward to trying it out.

And finally, we’ll be having a much deserved day off on Saturday and then more friends over on Sunday so I’m going to do a big pulled pork with barbecue sauce, brioche buns and salad. As well as some sausages for the kids. The pulled pork recipe below is great, I’ve tried it twice before and it works a treat.

Have a great week.

Emma xx

Meal Planner (Archive)

Week starting 16th January


It’s been a quiet weekend (well, that actually might depend on your definition of quiet) but uncharacteristically we’ve managed to get TWO holidays booked when normally we can’t manage to get our asses in gear before everywhere is pretty much sold out. Switzerland to stay with my best friend in April and then Sardinia in August with my mum. I can’t wait. Dreaming of warmer days already…

Sadly though we’re stuck with dreary, cold weather for the time being so there isn’t all that much salad on the menu.

Mondays at our house are pasta Mondays and I’m hurting my brain trying to things of ways to keep pasta interesting so this week I’m reverting to a crayfish one I tried a few weeks back. It’s extremely simple and my own concoction – I fry off a diced onion in a tablespoon of olive oil with a clove of chopped garlic. Then throw in the crayfish until they are cooked through. Take off the heat and stir through a couple of tablespoons of creme fraiche. Then stir through the cooked pasta et voila. Serve with parmesan if your kids love it as much as mine. On everything.

On Tuesday we’re having the Joe Wicks cashew (and chicken) curry that we didn’t get round to last week. It’s in this month’s BBC Good Food and also on the link below if you want to give it a try.

On Wednesday I’m trying out a recipe from the cook M&S app that Mel tried out last week – smoked haddock and sweetcorn hash. It looks nice and fresh and healthy so perfect for this time of year, if you fancy cooking along I have included the recipe on our recipes page or you can of course get the App from the App Store.

Thursday is quite self-explanatory, I’m out for the night so I’m keeping things simple for the husband’s sake and then on Friday we’re having lasagne which Max (the 5yo) has been requesting for weeks but I never seem to get round to making.

Saturday is a day off and then I’m finishing the week with some homemade pizza. We pretty much always use Jamie Oliver’s recipes for the dough and sauce but of course half the fun is mixing up the toppings. I’m going to try and be more adventurous this week – watch out for the results on our Instagram page!

Hope you all have a great week.

Emma xx

Meal Planner (Archive)

Week starting 9th January


Last week felt like a bit of a trial run for the real dose of reality that we’re facing tomorrow. The 5yo is back to school (finally) and I’ll be back on my travels to London before I know it. Christmas is well and truly over. Boo hoo!

On a more positive note, the return to normality also means a return to more healthy meals and, hopefully, less of a feeling of stodgy the snowman. I’ve tried to keep things relatively light this week but if you saw my last blog post you’ll know that I do believe in mixing it up so it’s not all kale and quinoa.

Case in point we’re starting tomorrow with some pasta carbonara. It’s a pasta dish that I do tend to think of as heavily calorie-laden but I think if you’re making your own sauces you have the chance to make it what you will. I stick to a more traditional carbonara and add no cream, so the sauce is really just eggs and parmesan, the less parmesan you add the less creamy it will be but it will of course be that much healthier. I’ll also cook up less pasta and serve with a big helping of salad to balance it out. This carbonara recipe is pretty much what I would do but with less cheese.

Tuesday is our pushed for time day so we’ll be having quesadillas. I’m going to roast up some veg this Sunday evening to use in salads and dishes throughout the week so I’ll save some sweet potato that we could also use in our quesadillas. Again, I’ll serve with some veg and salad to give us a chance of hitting our 5 a day.

Wednesday will be a very simple prawn stir fry with noodles with an oyster sauce and then on Thursday (as I’ll be home having new carpets fitted) we can go for something a little more adventurous.

One of my new year’s resolutions was that we would eat less red and processed meat and try to encourage the kids with more vegetarian food so I’m going to try a burnt aubergine and veggie chilli that is in this month’s Good Food magazine – I’ve also added the recipe to our recipes page in case you want to cook along.

Saturday is a day off as kids party season kicks back into gear and then on Sunday I’m trying out another recipe that was in Good Food this month but it’s one from Joe Wicks – chicken and cashew curry. I have to admit I’m pretty skeptical about Joe Wicks’ recipes. I’ve tried a couple before, one was fine and one was awful but given he still seems to be everywhere I’m going to give this one a whirl before I give up on him entirely!

Hope you all have a great week.

Emma xx

It’s All Good


At this time of year it’s inevitable, perhaps even mandatory, that thoughts turn to healthy eating and exercise. Gyms are flooded with new members, the streets are packed with joggers and the fridges at work are full of salad and veg.

It’s no different in our household. We were somehow able to amass so much chocolate over Christmas that even the Easter Bunny would think it’s a bit over the top. And as I hurt my back over the Christmas period I’m hurling myself back into exercise this week in a desperate effort to make up for lost time (and reduce the spare tyre).

I would normally consider myself pretty good at the whole exercise malarkey. I run regularly, about 5 times a week, and my weekends are made up of the additional activity of running around after 2 small people. But this new year, and my new tummy, really got me thinking about my exercise routine and about how mixing it up will be better for both my body and my interest levels.

So far we’ve invested in a cross trainer, I have a great workout app on my phone (Sworkit) which helps me with much needed core exercises, I’ve been to the gym today and done some weights and I’m going to try out some new classes including Pilates. It may all go down the toilet after a couple of weeks but hey, I’m trying.

Whilst ruminating on my new regime it struck me that this is the approach we should really take to food.

At this time of year (and to some extent all year round) we have developed a tendency to demonise certain foods to the extent that you feel guilty if you’re making gingerbread men with your kids and not using agave syrup to sweeten the dough. This morning I felt momentarily embarrassed that I consider crumpets a perfectly viable breakfast in the face of someone else’s healthy, crumpet-shaming Instagram post.

There’s no doubt in my mind that too much sugar and too much fat in our diet are the cause of a lot of the problems our society faces today but that doesn’t mean that they have no place in our lives whatsoever. The more we mix it up, with salad for lunch and chips for tea, the more likely we are to find a balance that we can live with and that will endure.

Similarly for kids, the more different foods they are exposed to at an early age the more they are likely to grow up with a varied diet and a healthy attitude towards eating.

So tomorrow, I’m going to eat crumpets for breakfast with my kids, and then I’m going to go for a nice long run before finishing the day with a nice big drink. Balance.