Trying to meal plan for the week can sometimes pose a challenge, especially if you have young children or fussy family members. We want to make meal prep as simple as possible, so you don't have to spend hours preparing different meals each day to keep the whole family happy.
Many people have successfully completed the Second Nature programme while cooking for a family. Our most popular dishes are:
- Chicken parmigiana (some parents have told their kids that it’s chicken pizza!)
- Chicken fajita bake
- Lamb pitta pizzas
- Mini muffins
- Blueberry pancakes (great for breakfast)
- Lentil bolognese (with pasta and plenty of cheese!)
- Butter chicken
Tips to adapting Second Nature recipes
Below we have some ideas and tips on how to modify a few Second Nature recipes (and others) to make them more family friendly, as well as reducing time spent cooking overall.
Recipes such as the Meatballs in chilli-tomato sauce, Cajun salmon and salsa, or the Mexican pork bowls can be adapted by using milder spices and having a larger serving of pasta, spaghetti, or rice for the children/family.
Be sure to include extra veggies or salad for yourself (e.g. spiralised courgette ‘spaghetti’ with the meatballs!).
Here are some specific examples of how you could adapt a few of our favourite recipes to suit the family:
- Chicken fajita bake: Add different veggies that children enjoy (colourful peppers, mushrooms, carrots, spinach) and serve with wholemeal wraps instead of lettuce cups for the family.
- Spinach-stuffed chicken: Remove the chilli and serve with a side of homemade carrot or potato chips (cook at the same time as chicken).
- Chicken parmigiana: Serve with homemade potato wedges and any mixed veggies that your family enjoys.
- Sweetcorn fritters: These can be batch cooked and frozen, to form part of breakfast (delicious with eggs) or served with different veggies/salad for lunch or dinner.
- Cajun salmon and salsa: Follow recipe but use a mild seasoning, or other seasoning (such as sweet paprika/mixed dried herbs). Serve with rice for children and other family members.
- Mexican pork bowl: Use a mild seasoning and cook extra rice for the family.
What if my children are fussy eaters?
Sitting down with the children and going through the recipe book to see which photos look appealing to them and which ones they might want to try can be a good way of getting them involved in choosing their meals.
You could also try making a list of foods they do enjoy and recipes they've previously eaten in the past. This might help you to identify recipes that feature similar ingredients, or ways that recipes can be adapted for the whole family to enjoy.
If they enjoy having chips, would they be up for trying carrot chips, or homemade chips from potatoes/sweet potatoes?
Smoothies are a good way to get in some veggies without children realising. For example, you could add in a handful of spinach to a pineapple and strawberry smoothie, or some avocado to make the smoothie thick and creamy. Adding in some seeds/nut butters can be another way to increase healthy fats.
Getting children involved in kitchen can be another way to encourage them to try new foods. The Lamb pitta pizzas are a great recipe to make with kids, and you could try changing up the ingredients each time by adding different veggies such as colourful peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, grated carrot, chopped aubergine, or chopped courgette. A wholemeal wrap (instead of a pitta bread) can also be used if they prefer thinner/crispier pizza bases.
Roast dinners are also a balanced meal that the whole family can enjoy. They contain a good portion of protein, a source of complex carbohydrate (usually from potatoes), and you can then add plenty of non-starchy veggies. Ideally, try to keep at least half of your plate made up of non-starchy vegetables (e.g. roasted brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, and cauliflower). Having a few potatoes or a small Yorkshire pudding is completely fine, just enjoy this mindfully.
We hope some of these tips and ideas can help make it easier to cook for the family!