Tasty dinners are top value

WHAT'S for dinner? This question can throw busy mums and dads into a frenzy as the pressure of feeding a hungry brood looms each evening.

Coming up with appetising, healthy dinners for the family on a daily basis is tricky and sometimes parents find themselves in need of new creative and nutritious meal ideas.

Luckily, the family-feeding experts at 4 Ingredients were willing to share some budget-saving and meal inspiring tips.

4 Ingredients spokeswoman Kate Guiver said the key to avoiding madness in the kitchen at dinner time was to plan.

Sit down on a Sunday night and work out what meals you would eat each day of that week, Ms Guiver said.

Write all the meals down and then from there work out a shopping list.

"You will have most of the basics in the pantry already so really you will be looking at meat, fruit and vegies and then any staples that you need to top up on," she said.

Seeing all meals for each day of the week set out in front of you also allows you to look at and assess the family's diet.

To save money, Ms Guiver recommended shoppers bulk-buy.

Shop around, visit the local butcher, farmers' market or greengrocer and keep an eye out for good specials.

Ms Guiver also suggested looking out for specials on fruit and vegetables as this often meant they were in season and fresh.

To save time and ease stress, plan ahead so where possible you can cook extra.

For example, if you are making a bolognaise sauce one night, make sure to cook double so then you can use the extra sauce the next night to make shepherd's pie.

Because children often proved fussy eaters, Ms Guiver said there was a number of things parents could do to keep kids interested and encourage healthy eating.

Simply modifying a dish, presenting it in a different way on the plate or even giving it a different name was her top suggestion to keep meal times new and exciting for little ones.

Ms Guiver also suggested parents ask their kids to help out more in the kitchen and get them to do simple tasks. "Our biggest issues as parents is trying to do everything ourselves because we think it's faster to get things done that way," she said.

 

Simple recipe ideas for quick and easy meals

Recipes from 4 Ingredients:

Shepherd's Pie

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean mince
  • 1 cup fruit chutney
  • 6 potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 75g tasty cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a non-stick frypan brown mince, season and mix through chutney. Pour into a casserole dish, top evenly with mashed potato and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly.

Optional: Slice a tomato or two over the mince before topping with potato.

Mandy-muffins

Serves 12

  • 1 cup (175g) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) cream
  • 3 tbs caster sugar
  • 2 mandarins

Preheat oven 180°C. Combine flour, cream and 2 tbs sugar with the zest of both mandarins. Mix until just combined. Divide the mixture evenly into 12 greased mini-muffin trays. Top each with a mandarin segment and sprinkle with remaining tbs of sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

 

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