Healthy Family Meals in 30 Minutes Or Less
It can be hard to keep an entire family eating healthily.
Children can be very picker eaters, so when they suddenly decide that they’re only going to eat chicken nuggets it can be hard to convince them otherwise. The rate at which children pick up and lose allergies can also make introducing healthier foods difficult. Fruits and nuts are a fine substitute to sweets and pasties, but allergies to citrus and nuts are very common and it can be tempting to just give them the alternative. Then there are children’s yo-yoing appetites. Under-eaters become tired, lack energy and under-perform in school while over-eaters become obese and prone to mood-swings, especially if they start being bullied about their weight.
Adults can have a difficult time too. Sticking to bland meals all the children will eat can drive the much more adventurous parents to snack on tastier, often unhealthier foods. Time is also a big factor. With many parents now having to work either two jobs or unsociable and awkward hours, finding time to cook and eat together is becoming increasingly difficult. This then becomes impossible if your working hours force your children to cook for themselves or take responsibility for younger siblings, and you’re not around to teach them how to cook anything more than a frozen pizza.
In today’s blog, we’ll give you some quick, easy, low-calorie meals for the whole family. Not only can they all be done in under 30-minutes, but they can also help teach your children how to cook and keep them healthy without compromising on taste. So, bring everyone into the kitchen and get stuck into these deliciously healthy family meals.
Beany Pasta Pot (from BBCgoodfood.com)
Total Time To Make: 20 Minutes Servings: 4
- 1 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 1 chopped apple
- 410g tin of chopped tomatoes (with herbs optional)
- 300ml of carton passata
- 290g tin, drained and rinsed, of one of the following: borlotti, pinto or kidney beans
- 3 tablespoons of red pesto
- 300g whole-wheat pasta
- As you make the sauce, prepare the whole wheat pasta to package instructions, draining and setting aside when cooked.
- Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onions for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the apple and cook for a further 2-3 until both have softened.
- Stir in tomatoes, passata and beans then gently simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the red pesto and cooked pasta, mixing well until the pasta is reheated.
- Serve with whole-wheat bread/toast.
Graduate your little ones from beans on toast with this simple yet flavourful pasta meal. While the younger ones can play with the beans and pastas of the world (learning about shapes in the process), the older children will learn how to cook pasta and get a feel for making one-pots meals, which have risen in popularity again in recent years.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin (from tasteofhome.com)
Total Time To Make: 30 minutes Servings: 4
- 1 pork tenderloin or 1-2 packs of lean pork fillet medallions
- 114g of all-purpose flour (whole wheat if possible) and corn flour
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Cut the tenderloin into ½ inch slices.
- Into one shallow bowl, mix the two flours with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the egg into a second shallow bowl.
- Dip and coat the pork in the egg, then put into the flour mixture, patting down gently to help the dry coating stick.
- In a large skillet or pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat and add half the pork, cooking for 3-4 minutes on each side before setting aside to drain on a paper towel.
- Repeat Step 4 with the other half of the pork.
- Serve with a healthy side of your choice. We recommend homemade sweet potato fries, which we covered in an earlier blog.
Another alternative to a childhood favourite, steering kids away from processed, high salt chicken nuggets in favor of lean, tasty pork that everyone can enjoy. Breading and frying are useful cooking skills to have as it opens up a variety of other cuisines to children and adapts them to cooking with high heats.
Rainbow Chicken/Salmon/Prawn Skewers (from theviewfromgreatisland.com)
Total Time To Make: 30 Minutes Servings: 4
- 1 large salmon fillet OR 4 chicken breasts OR 150g of cooked and peeled king prawns
- ½ each of a red, orange yellow and green bell pepper
- ½ of a red onion
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Lemon Juice (optional)
- Cut the salmon or chicken into bite-size chunks until you have between 12-16 pieces. Prawns can be left as they are.
- Cut the peppers and red onion into similar size chunks, keeping the layers of the onion in groups of 2-3.
- Thread your skewers alternately with the onions, peppers and chicken/salmon/prawns, doing your best to make a rainbow pattern. Leave some room at the base so they can be picked up easily.
- Brush the completed skewers on all sides with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.
- Cook under a hot oven grill turning once, until the chicken/salmon/prawns are cooked through and the vegetables have softened.
- Serve with a side salad and a squeeze of lemon (optional)
This meal has a ton of variety, so while the littlest ones learn about colours, the older ones can get acquainted with the oven and its many features. Grilling is often a healthy alternative to frying and makes less mess, so try and get the kids to use it wherever possible when cooking alone or for younger siblings.
Simple Grilled Steak Fajitas (from tasteofhome.com)
Total Time To Make: 30 Minutes Servings: 4
- 1-2 lean beef top sirloin steaks, no thicker than an inch.
- 2 tablespoons of fajita seasoning (pre-packed or make your own from another recipe)
- 1 large green onion, halved
- 1 red and green bell pepper, both halved
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 4-8 whole-wheat tortillas, warmed through
- Fresh coriander and lime juice (optional)
- Rub the steaks with the seasoning mix.
- Brush the onion and peppers in oil.
- Place the steak and vegetables on a lightly greased rack, then cover with tin foil and place under a medium heated grill.
- Cook for 4-6 minutes of each side, leaving the steak in for longer depending on how well done you want it.
- Remove from the grill and let sit, still covered, for 5 minutes
- Cut the steak and vegetables into strips and serve in the warmed tortillas, topping with coriander and lime juice if you desire.
Another meal made under the grill that is both tasty and filling. Rather than putting the fajitas together before serving the meal, lay everything out buffet style and let everyone make their own meal. This can bring everyone closer together and make the children feel more grown up by putting them in charge of their own food.
Having children in the kitchen while you’re cooking might sound like a nightmare.
And we don’t blame you for thinking that. You don’t want them to getting hurt using sharp knives and hot stoves, but you also don’t want them making mess by playing around in ingredients and pulling everything out of the cupboards. However, with a little bit of patience and understanding, you’ll be giving your kids so many advantages in life by teaching them to cook. Here are just some of the best ones:
It’s A Confidence Boosting Life Skill – A lot of adults hate to cook due its difficulty and time-consuming nature, but by teaching even the most basic cooking skills early on, children become more confident in the kitchen and more likely to cook healthy meals for themselves later in life.
Widens Their Pallets and Appetites – When children are involved in the cooking process, they begin to understand what food goes into their meals and become more likely to eat it. This can cut down on picky eating and open up mealtimes to more cuisines.
Develops Functional Skills – Getting technical for second, functional skills are mathematics, reading and writing, and cooking helps improve them all. Measuring, chopping and timing can take the boredom out of learning maths and can set them off on the right foot when learning more complex maths skills like fractions. Following written instructions gives children more opportunity to read and expand their vocabulary, while writing down any recipes they invent can help them develop their writing skills without it feeling like homework.
Empathy and Thankfulness – It can be hard to teach children their manners, and sympathy can take years to instill into an adult let alone a child. By showing children the amount of effort that goes into feeding them every day, both at home and at a restaurant, they will be more thankful for the food and more empathetic towards the people making the food and their cultures.
Spend More Time Together – By cooking together and talking (the relaxed atmosphere getting even the most tight-lipped teenager to talk) you begin to bond without expectation and conversations flow more naturally. Children will want to show off their creations, so take this opportunity to eat together to keep the conversation going. Some reports even suggest that eating together improves school performance and cuts down on obesity.
You Get Help In The Kitchen – Again, you may fear a mess, but when you’re a busy parent it can be a life-saver. Having help can nearly halve preparation time, so meals are ready sooner and you can finally fit a healthy meal in-between shifts. If you work hours that require your children to return from school alone at night, a helping hand can quickly become an independent one, and they will begin cooking healthy meals for themselves and their siblings, keeping their diet on track when you can’t be there.
Giving your children the gift of cooking can improve everyone’s lives.
You give them the confidence, independence and trust they need to love cooking and eating, ensuring that they cook healthy family meals in the future. But what if you were to suddenly suffer an illness or injury? Having someone who can cook for you in times of crisis is helpful, but money could still become tight, this is where Critical Illness Cover comes in.
By paying out a lump-sum in event that you are diagnosed with a set number of illnesses or diseases, you can ensure that your family is covered when you’re the one who needs to be cared for. Some policies even cover children’s illnesses to a similar amount. Whether bought on its own or with Level-Term Life Insurance, it will be there to give you complete piece of mind should the worst happen. Also, January comes to an end this week, so if you’re still interested in getting three months free gym membership with your new policy, click the button below and join us on Thursday for our last blog in this healthy living series.