Midweek evening meal time is easily one of the most stress filled times of any day. While everyone’s perfectly made, and suspiciously well lighted, meal looks great on your Instagram timeline; in the real world who has the time (or, of course, the energy!) to faff around to make something complicated that the kids are probably going to leave half of anyway?
It’s a tough balance. We don’t want to be unhealthy and yet it seems every recipe online for any sort of healthy meal seems to require 1000s of steps, ingredients specially freshly shipped in from 45 different countries and utensils no one actually owns. Yet, there are some great recipes out there that can, with a bit of planning and some clever tips, can make tea a breeze.
So, while no one would blame you, don’t dive into the freezer just yet. Here are just a few examples of easy family meals that should satisfy everyone without causing you to waste hours in the kitchen or, indeed, cost €€€s.
Chilli Con Carne
Some Chilli Con Carne recipes can seem a bit daunting, as most will be written with the intention to be made from scratch. You don’t need to do this however if you don’t want to, most supermarket ready mix packets taste as good as a spice mix you’d make yourself and usually aren’t that pricey either. The two great things about chilli are that it can be cooked in one big pot (or you can throw everything into the slow cooker in the morning if you have one) and you can also add pretty much anything to it vegetable-wise. If you are vegetarian you can also use vegetarian mince or lentils in your chilli, and you don’t necessarily need to use rice as your “starchy bit” if you don’t have it and are in a rush – pasta can do the job just fine.
If you do fancy making your own chilli flavour mix from scratch, then check out this recipe over on ilovecooking.ie.
Depending on where you are in Ireland, you might associate colcannon with being served on Halloween with ham or bacon, and may have even been involved in the old tradition of hiding rings, thimbles or coins in it (which probably wouldn’t adhere to most people’s idea of food safety and hygiene these days). But this dish consisting of mashed potatoes, cabbage, butter and any other veg you might be able to find is an easy midweek meal at any time of year – as a side dish or by itself.
Most recipes will call for a lot of butter, which is tasty of course. But if you would like something a touch healthier, then simply reduce the amount you use or remove it entirely.
Baked Lemon Chicken Breasts
There are lots of ‘cook in the bag’ chicken flavour kits out there, and these can be great for an easy midweek meal time for that pack of four chicken breasts you picked up during your last grocery shop. But, if you don’t have one of these kits, you can still do something similar simply with some lemon, thyme (or other herbs) and a little olive oil baked together in the oven.
Serve with mash, veg, potato wedges (either self-made or frozen depending on how much you can be bothered!), rice and/or whatever you fancy really. Don’t forget, of course, to make sure the chicken is cooked through once they come out of the oven.