Meal Planner (Archive)

Week starting 8th May


Sunny days are here to stay… it’s still just a tad chilly though so I’m feeling that we’re still somewhere lost in no man’s land between soup and salad.  I did check the weather app earlier and saw something about 24 degrees for next week though so now I’m really getting my hopes up!

This week we started, as always, with pasta, and a recipe from the National Trust Family Cookbook – sausage and tomato pasta on ricotta.  This is a fairly simple recipe in which you use the insides of some good quality sausages cooked up with onion, fennel and tinned tomato and then serve the dish on some ricotta.  My kids really enjoyed this today (and I did too), another good family recipe from this fab book.

Tomorrow I’m taking some inspiration from some of the recipes that people have been tagging with #feedtheteam on Instagram – puff pastry pizza.  I used to make lots of these simple puff pastry tarts using ready rolled pastry pre-kids but for some reason I haven’t thought of them for a while so this week I’m going to give it a go and I have high hopes given their general feelings towards pizza and pastry.  I’ll keep the toppings simple and pizza-like – salami and mozzarella – on their half to keep life simple and then I have some asparagus and goats’ cheese for our half to keep life interesting.

On Wednesday I’m going to hope for summer with a salad but it’s really an excuse to use some more Jersey Royals which are just one of my favourite things in the world and which are just coming into season now.  If you want to see more about what’s good to eat in May do check out our Seasonal page for more details on the ingredients and recipes that you could use them in.

Thursday I’m taking more inspiration from that #feedtheteam hashtag and doing a salmon traybake.  We went to watch a sea lion show at Knowsley Safari Park on Sunday and the kids were very excited to discover that the sea lions like eating salmon like them so it’s a good choice for this week and also for a fairly quick post-swimming lesson tea.  I’ll cook them with some more par-boiled jerseys, asparagus and whatever else is hanging around in the fridge.

And then Friday is really our last proper cooked meal of the week as we are off to a wedding (child-free!) on Saturday and we won’t be back until later on Sunday.  The excitement of someone making all of my meals for me is palpable.  We’re going out with a bang though with fish tacos – yet another #feedtheteam hashtag from this week.  There were a lot of tacos being made this week (largely I think due to cinco de mayo) and the fish tacos in particular looked fab.  It’s not something I’ve tried before so I’ve come up so far with a couple of recipes that look interesting including the below from Jamie Oliver but I think I prefer the idea of coating them in panko breadcrumbs, not so healthy maybe but certainly kid-friendly.

And I’ve bought these which look perfect for the job, excited by this find!

Hope you have a great week.


Meal Planner (Archive)

Week starting 24th April


I finally felt for sure like Spring had sprung this weekend. So far it’s been a bit of a stop start affair but this weekend we spent a lot of time in the garden, digging and planting and that’s when you know for sure winter’s behind you for another year and you can start looking forward to light nights and warmer toes. Woo hoo!

Having said that I think this week’s meal planner still demonstrates that we’re in that in between phase where we’re not quite into salads but it feels too light to crack out the slow cooker.

Tomorrow I’m starting with pesto pasta because I’ve reached my limit of how many times I can be asked for it without just laying down and giving in. They literally mention it every single day. I wonder how long the obsession will continue?

Tuesday’s are always our busiest and latest home days so it’s a simple one, some breaded fish from my Ocado shop with lots of fresh veg. It’s close enough to fish fingers for them to pass the test and nice enough for us to feel like we aren’t eating kids food. Obviously you could make the fish easily enough yourself but that doesn’t mean you have to every day!

Wednesday has us still in Winter with our squash soup but I do love a soup as a good family friendly vegetarian option. The kids have always loved squash soup in particular because it’s slightly sweet although I tend to roast the squash in some vegetable oil with a teaspoon of cumin and garam masala in the morning so that it has been sitting in the spiced oil for the day. Then it’s really easy to cook up a diced onion, throw in the squash and a litre or so of stock and blitz. It’s on the table in 10 minutes.

Thursday I’m doing a dinner inspired by a recipe I saw on It’s not a tricky one but if you’re interested you can see what’s involved on the link below.

On Friday the 5yo has friends over so we’re doing homemade burgers and oven chips and then I’m finishing the week with sausage and beans and Yorkshires. I saw someone having this on Instagram the other day and couldn’t believe it had never occurred to me! Looking forward to the new taste sensation beans and Yorkshire mash up.

Have a good week!


Desperately seeking inspiration

Looking for inspiration for this week’s meal planner got me thinking about the recipe sources that I turn to again and again when thinking about the week of meals ahead.

I look to lots of different sources when deciding what we’re going to eat including websites, my own brain (less and less reliable), good old-fashioned recipe books and, of course, social media. I like mixing it up, partly to make sure the kids eat a variety of different tastes as they’re growing up but also because I enjoy the variety, and I’m determined that we’re not going to live on pesto pasta alone.

In terms of the recipe books that inspire me day in and day out there are a few that have been staples for years. Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals has proved a great source for recipes that have become stock like his cauliflower macaroni cheese and a simple chicken pie. I’ve tried lots of his other books including the more recent health-focused ones but it’s 30 Minute Meals I turn to again and again for good, tasty family food.

In the same category I would add Felicity Cloake’s Perfect which is more obscure than Jamie but if you’re looking for foolproof recipes for staples like Coq au Vin, fishcakes and chocolate mousse. For me this is truly one of those that you’ll pass down to your kids when they’re ready to fly the nest (*sob!*)

Others that I use regularly would be Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen (which for some reason I assume would be annoying?), Marcus Wareing’s How to Cook the Perfect (I just made the most amazing custard) and also his Nutmeg & Custard which includes some more complex recipes but also a great almond and chickpea curry that I go back to again and again.

In terms of books that I’ve invested in more recently you may have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of Diana Henry’s recipes of late having bought her Cook Simple from about 10 years ago. I can’t get enough of how simple (duh) the recipes are and yet so full of flavor, they’re right up my street food-wise. I also recently bought the National Trust Family Cookbook by Claire Thomson (@5oclockapron) which has a really good number of recipes that feel feasible for a family mealtime – there are surprisingly few books around that hit that spot.

I’ve also bought Georgina Hayden’s Stirring Slowly which I like but see working less well in for your average family mealtime and others with a healthy agenda including Jamie’s Everyday Super Food and River Cottage Light & Easy.   Again, some great recipes but probably only a few that work for us as a family.

Of course as well as relatively expensive recipe books there are a wealth of online resources to access for free. I use the BBC Good Food website on a practically daily basis – there’s a recipe for pretty much everything you can imagine on there and the rating system is useful to tell you when a recipe is a particularly good one. I’ve used so many ideas from there it’s hard to narrow it down but the pulled pork, laksa and perfect Yorkshire puddings are the ones that spring to mind.

Also, if you’re a tad tragic like my sisters and I you can subscribe to the magazine and feel a burst of joy on the day it drops through the letterbox.  It’s almost as good as Birchbox but not quite.

I’ve also started using supermarket websites more for inspiration although it somehow seems like a less fashionable option. Ocado has some great ideas with a direct link to shop the ingredients and I’ve made their gluten free cats a couple of times now and I’ve also had some great ideas from the Tesco site, they’re certainly worth a look if you’re feeing devoid of inspiration one week.

And then last but not least – social media. This month we are asking our Instagram followers to use our hashtag #feedtheteam when posting their family food pictures so that we can share the food that we’re all making for our teams everyday. Hopefully you’ll find even more inspiration there!