Do you meal plan?

I’ve always done a meal planner, but over lockdown I got into the habit of doing both lunches and dinners for the whole family. It was relentless, but I knew that if I didn’t my crew would end up eating toast all day, so I got into the habit of catering for everyone, just to make sure they ate properly. And actually, I loved having us all together every day for lunch. We watched a lot of films and did a lot of virtual quizzes during the pandemic, and our dinners as a result were often sofa meals. So it felt good to know that at least we’d regroup for actual conversation and decent food every lunch time.

 

Back to school meal plan with teens

This week though we’re back to school, so the kids are making their own packed lunches. (Yes, hang in there parents of smaller children – I can’t tell you how liberating it felt to delegate packed lunches and sit with my coffee for the first time in years!) Therefore my meal plan only needs to take into account dinners, and the weekend lunch ideas.

I used to share my meal plans in my early days of blogging, but now that we have older children, I’m always looking for teenage food ideas that will land well, so I’ve taken to scouring the internet for recipes again, and I thought I’d share them here for any families who are also trying to feed hungry teens. Let me know if you have any favourites I can add to the never-ending pasta and rice quota that my growing lad seems to need!

Here’s what we’re eating this week: 

 

MONDAY – STIR FRIED VEG AND RICE NOODLES

 

 

I’m actually using a recipe I ripped out of a Waitrose magazine two years ago, but it looks a lot like this one from Mary Berry. Our weekends are usually a pretty big meat fest (I know when I serve this it’s likely I’ll be asked where the meat is!) so my Monday meal plan is always an attempt to get a few more veggies into my family. I tear out recipes and keep them in my meal planning notebook, but some of them do hang around for ages before I get round to them. 

The Waitrose version has ALL the flavours – garlic, ginger, chilli, soy, rice wine and sesame oil – so it’s ticking all my boxes for healthy meal for teenagers that they will love despite the vegetarian nature!

 

TUESDAY – SHEPHERD’S PIE

 

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You can find a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie on BBC Good Food, but this is my own personal shepherd’s pie recipe. I mean, who doesn’t have their own version of a shepherd’s pie? I feel like it’s the kind of meal that doesn’t have a recipe, because it’s the first thing you’re shown how to make by your parents. My own mum used a giant metal contraption that she screwed onto her food processor to grind down the remains of our Sunday lunch, so that’s pretty much how I make mine now, only with the blade of my food processor to chop the meat until it’s almost a paste (I know, it sounds gross but it’s not). 

My shepherd’s pie is basically ground lamb (or beef if we’re doing a cottage pie – although we always call it shepherd’s in our house!) cooked with a little bit of water and chopped onions, mixed dried herbs and some seasoning. Whilst I loved my mum’s shepherd’s pie, I hated the grey colour, so I add a crumbled up Oxo cube (or two) a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a squirt of tomato puree, just to make it look a bit richer. Top with mash (cheesy if I’m feeling indulgent) and bake at 180 deg C for 30-40 minutes. Shepherd’s pie goes with frozen peas in our house and it’s totally a comfort food for the teens here.

 

WEDNESDAY – THAI RED VEGETABLE CURRY

 

Wait, more veg?? Yes, I told you, I’m on a mission to make up for our weekends, so when I found half a jar of Thai red curry paste in the fridge I made my internet search a vegetarian mission. This recipe from Cookie and Kate looks stunning, contains coconut milk (yum!) and kale, which is the one green brassic my kids both agree on!

 

THURSDAY – CHIPOTLE BEAN QUESADILLAS

 

 

There’s a theme to my meal plan this week, and it’s called “use up the half jars cluttering up my fridge and annoying the heck out of me.” I found this Tesco recipe for quesadillas (veggie again – I must dig out my halo!) and it has an irritating jar of chipotle paste at the back of my fridge’s name written all over it! 

My kids love quesadillas, but I get so bored of cheese in a wrap, and they won’t contemplate spinach or onion in theirs. So I’m hoping this one will go down better – they do enjoy pulses, and I want to add more beans to our meal plans, so this one might become a regular.

 

FRIDAY – CHILLI CON CARNE

 

 

Friday nights need to be simple for me, because as soon as Maddie gets home from school I’m in the car on a slog up and down the M1 for the next 4 hours. As an ice-skater it’s always a journey to find a decent rink for training, and our Friday evenings are dominated by her training, and the long drive to get there. Hence I need a slow cooker hero that people can just help themselves to if we get snarled up in traffic. A steaming chilli is also the perfect dish to come home to when you’re exhausted from spirals and spins (her) or freezing cold from standing by the ice (me).

I saw this chilli recipe first on Harriet’s blog Toby and Roo. She’d been debating on instagram whether or not dark chocolate was a good addition to a chilli. She claims a chilli wouldn’t be a chilli without it, so I’m going to give it a shot on Friday. 

 

SATURDAY – SWEDISH MEATBALLS

 

Everyone seemed to be recreating Ikea’s famous meatball recipe during lockdown. I printed it off, but again, haven’t got round to it yet. I often bookmark meals for teenage groups because we’re at the stage where I’m quite likely to have a sudden need to feed large groups of the kids’ friends. Meatballs and potatoes feels like the kind of calories teenagers need, and it’s easy to wolf on a sofa!

 

SUNDAY – ROAST AND A PROPER PUDDING

 

I almost always plan a roast dinner on a Sunday, if I can manage to get everyone here at the same time, in amongst the football and social commitments of my teens. They all love a roast, but it’s never really about the main course. Sunday is the day I make a proper pudding. This week I’m planning a syrup sponge, but yesterday was all about this beauty of a pineapple upside down cake from my Nigella Express book

I’ve also popped my meal plan board below so you can see how I nag my kids! One of them has a tendency to grab cheese and crackers if she’s in a rush, and the other is a bit forgetful, so here’s their reminder as to what I hope they will put in their lunch boxes. Parenting doesn’t stop, even after you’ve delegated!

I know, I’ve put the cake and chocolate bit in twice! I will need to rectify that next week, because it’s the one instruction they’ll probably follow to the letter! 

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