5.11.19

Quick tips to make your meals more exciting


Cooking and eating the same meals all the time gets boring very quickly, and kids aren’t afraid to tell you when they aren’t interested in something you’ve spent time making. Food waste is a big issue right now and I'm super conscious about what I’m feeding the family. So, it's important to try and balance the two by thinking of meals that everyone will enjoy, and that won’t grow our waistbands too much – and that’s where it gets tricky, or so I thought.

When I sat down and started thinking about ways to improve our eating experiences, I decided I’m going to make our meals more exciting. Sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it? But I've come up with a few easy ways to inject some wow factor into the food I’m serving – here they are.

Try something new
Next time you go to the supermarket, throw something in the trolley you’ve never bought before but have always wondered about. Whether it’s a funky-looking vegetable, a tin of pumpkin puree or a spice you’ve never heard of, grab it and plan a nutritious meal around it. Google is your friend here, and you’ll find plenty of recipes for whatever you’ve bought, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not a huge success. In fact, it could be really funny!

Make a firm favourite with an unexpected twist
Dinner with chips is always a treat, but fries can be time-consuming to make and they aren’t exactly special anymore. My go-to mum cheat is to cook some McCain sweet potato fries, and everybody loves them. I know they are low in saturated fat, and they taste really good and come out perfect every time. Plus, they are just a lot more exciting than regular old potato fries.

Get your cookie cutters out
Cutting your food into fun shapes might not get you excited about mealtimes, but it will have a positive impact on the kids, so this is a tip for all the parents out there. Take regular foods, put them on your cutting board and press your favourite cookie cutters into them for a more exciting dinner plate. You can do this with anything, so if breakfast is starting to feel dull, why not cut everybody’s toast into some new shapes? It only takes a few seconds but does bring out the giggles.

Try something smoky
Smoked salt is a food trend that lots of people have been trying and I admit, I’m curious. Basically, instead of seasoning your food with regular salt, you swap it out for a smoked version, which adds an extra layer of flavour to everything I cook. It’s such a small change but if it makes mashed potatoes or chips taste new and exciting again, I’m in.

Draw up a menu
Families with younger children will love this idea! If you can find the time to sit down and plan out your meals for the week, do it and write it all down as a menu. You could print it out, write it on a whiteboard or just email it to everybody, but however you do it, you’ll notice that everyone gets more excited ahead of sitting at the table. It also means that when a favourite meal is dished up that night, everybody will be less likely to snack, so they don’t ruin their appetites or fill up on less healthy treats. Win-win!

Get everyone involved
If you want everyone to get more excited about food, get them involved. Give everyone a job and let them contribute to the meal you'll all be sitting down to together. Kids like washing vegetables or putting things in the bin for you, and don’t be shy about getting your other half to pull their weight as well. If nothing else, they can definitely get you a drink while you do all the hard work.

Turn off the TV
Finally, whatever you’re sitting down to eat, whether it’s sweet potato fries on treat night or spaghetti Bolognese after footie practice, it will be more exciting and everyone will be more engaged without the television on and without their phones. Having conversations at the dinner table makes food a more sociable thing, and it will become a habit. Everyone will get excited about dinnertime, as that’s when you all get to chat and share what's happened during the day.

You don’t need to start adding food colouring or glitter to food to make it more exciting, as a few ingredient swaps or changing the ritual of meal times will inject a huge amount of fun. You can trust this Yorkshire mum about that…

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