Teatime is a mad rush for working parents as they try to get home on time and get tea on the table. It’s not surprising many of us cut corners with ready meals. But the good news is that parents can provide a good diet for their offspring by combining fresh ingredients and healthier convenience food. Workingmums.co.uk gives some tips for teatime.
Teatime is a mad rush for working parents as they try to get home on time and get tea on the table. It’s not surprising many of us cut corners with ready meals. But the good news is that parents can provide a good diet for their offspring by combining fresh ingredients and some convenience foods. Workingmums.co.uk gives some tips for teatime.
It’s that time of the day
It’s that time of the day when everybody in the family heads home from different directions. You’re all hungry, but time is limited so there’s no opportunity to spend hours on a lovingly-prepared gourmet meal. It would be so easy to turn to quick processed food or to ring for a takeaway because you’re feeling tired. But youngsters (and you too!) need to have a healthy meal – your offspring need to eat well to be able to concentrate and perform well at school the next day, and you need to have the energy to do the milliion and one things you have to do every day. A good diet is essential.
”Once back at school, children will use up a lot of energy, so after a long day chances are they’ll be hungry,” said nutritionist Juliette Kellow. ”Meanwhile, even if you’ve seen the school meal menu or made a healthy packed lunch, it can be difficult to know exactly what they have or haven’t eaten during the school day. This means teatime is crucial for providing children with a healthy, balanced meal to top up their nutrient levels and boost their energy to keep them alert for when it’s time to do homework.”
What do they need on their plate?
The perfect plate should contain starchy carbs, such as rice, potatoes or pasta – preferably high fibre – to provide energy and to fill up hungry children. Kellow advises lean meat, chicken, fish or beans, (containing protein, which is important for growth) should be added along with a couple of servings of vegetables to boost fibre and vital vitamins. Finish with a pot of low-fat yoghurt for calcium, which is important for bones.
The good news
”Combining fresh ingredients with healthier convenience foods can come to the rescue,” said Kellow. ”Cans of beans, tuna and salmon, frozen veg, jars of ready-made sauces and packets of microwaveable or boin-in-the-bag rice mean you’ll always be able to create healthy, balanced meals in minutes.”
Top tip: Choose products that are labelled as being free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives and check out Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs). These indicate how much a typical serving of a product contributes to guideline daily intakes for calories and certain nutrients like fat, saturates, sugar and salt.
What’s a good drink to go with the meal?
”Water is undoubtedly the best choice and is great for quenching thirst,” said Kellow. ”However, a glass of semi-skimmed milk is also a good choice for children and teenagers as it provides protein and a range of other nutrients including calcium, important for growing bones. A small glass of unsweetened fruit juice counts as one of their five-a-day, but for young children it’s best to dilute it with water to help keep teeth healthy.”
Home Baked Mexican Chilli Meatballs
Ready in 30 minutes
Cost per serving £1.77
500g jar Uncle Ben’s Medium Chilli con Carne sauce
2 bags Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Boil in the Bag rice
1 onion, roughly chopped
500g lean minced beef
1 medium sized egg
1 large handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks
150g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
* Place the onion, minced beef, egg and most of the coriander (including the stalks) into a food processor and whizz until the onion is finely chopped and the ingredients are well combined. Season with a little pepper.
* Roll the minced beef mixture into 20 equal sized balls and arrange in the base of a shallow oven-proof dish. Pour over the Uncle Ben’s Medium Chilli con Carne sauce and bake for 25 minutes.
* Stir the meatballs before scattering with cherry tomatoes and bake for a further two-three minutes. Whilst the meatballs are in the oven, prepare two bags of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Boil in the Bag rice according to the instructions.
* Roughly chop the remaining coriander, scatter over the meatballs and service with Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Boil in the Bag rice.
Cook’s tip: Using the stalks as well as the leaves of the fresh coriander adds more flavour.