Cooking healthy meals is sometimes a challenge, especially when it is your child or children you have to please. Well, this doesn’t mean I surrender and go to the nearest fast-food restaurant or wait for home delivery. And no, I wouldn’t take a pizza out of the freezer and throw it into the oven. Because I can prepare my child’s lunch for half this time. It will taste good enough for him to eat and it will be healthier than most of the sandwiches I would normally buy outside of the home.
Here are some quick and easy lunch ideas that are good for your kids. As a mother and woman, I am a follower of healthy eating and I try to adhere to that as much as possible. But I keep it moderate. So don’t get obsessed with healthy ingredients when you cook for your children. What is bad for adults (mothers are always struggling to keep fit, aren’t we?), is probably good for infants. Let’s not forget we have different dietary needs. These won’t be trendy superfood recipes with quinoa or chia seeds but I promise they would be healthy enough.
- Polenta with cheese
This is the easiest recipe ever and my son loves it. It only takes a couple of minutes which makes it perfect for those days you are in a rush or out of ideas.
- ½ cup polenta
- 1 handful of Greek salad cheese
- 1 tsp butter
Cook polenta into boiled water, lightly salt, for two minutes (see the proportions and cooking time on the package), stir carefully all the time so that it gets smooth and creamy. Add some butter and crumble the cheese. Stir again and serve. That’s it, easy enough.
- Couscous with tomato sauce and Cheddar
- 1 cup couscous
- 300 – 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 50 g mild Cheddar cheese
- 10-12 olives
- Fresh basil
Boil the couscous until almost ready, drain and put it in a tray. Add tinned tomatoes and sliced olives. Grate over some Cheddar and season with fresh basil leaves, chopped. Stir the whole thing and put in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
Tip: You can also add some sweetcorn or peas, more veggies (for this recipe, I prefer broccoli and cauliflower), leftovers of chicken, other meat or anything your kids like.
- Red lentils stew
- ½ onion
- 1 carrot
- ¼ red pepper
- ½ bowl red lentils
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1-2 tbsp. tomato passata
- 1 tbsp. flour
- Olive oil
Cut the onion, carrot, and red pepper into small pieces and cook in some olive oil and water until a bit softened. Pour 2-3 bowls of water and wait for it to boil. Add the lentils and cook for about 6-7 minutes. In the meantime, mix the flour and sweet paprika with tomato passata and 2-3 tbsp. water and stir so that it gets smooth with no lumps. Pour the mixture into the pan and stew for 5-6 minutes. Finally, a handful of cut fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and you have a stew ready in less than 30 minutes altogether.
- Vegetable soup.
No strict proportions or ingredients here, you can add any veggies, even some that your children don’t like so much (this is the beauty, the soup is creamy and nothing could be recognised by your little Sherlock 🙂 ). Just boil everything, throw it all in a blender with part of the liquid, add some butter, fresh herbs (I prefer parsley) and a splash of milk (coconut milk is also great) and blend until very smooth. Add more water from the boiled vegetables if it’s too thick. See my Beetroot and avocado soup as an example. Beetroot and avocado are optional, though. You could elaborate with more vegetables or add more protein. I sometimes add buckwheat (gluten-free and a good source of B vitamins and dietary fiber) or tinned chickpeas.
- Pizza toasties.
Did I mention pizza? OK, children love pizza (and who doesn’t?) so I’m afraid excluding it entirely from their diet is not a plan. But I have another idea which will hopefully kill the impulse to buy frozen pizza next time you are in the supermarket. You’ll only need a few slices of bread and your imagination; you could add any healthy ingredients you find suitable. Here is an example for one serving:
- 2 slices of wholemeal bread
- 3-4 tbsp. tomato passata
- 1 tomato
- 4-5 olives
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil and oregano
- 20-30 g mild Cheddar, Red Leicester, mozzarella, Feta cheese or any other cheese your children like
- Tuna, cooked ham, chicken or other meat (optional)
Mix the tomato passata with olive oil, fresh herbs, chopped olives and spread over the bread slices. Add tomato slices, meat or tuna and finish with cheese on top. Place on a tray (use baking paper to keep everything clean) and heat under the grill until the cheese gets melted and golden. You’re done. Delicious and quick. I call these homemade mini pizzas, and my four-year-old son agrees. 🙂
Happy cooking! 🙂