Seriously? You expect me to cook another meal?

It’s Friday night and over the last 5 days you’ve cooked 5 hot dinners, packed 14 school lunches, and coerced 14 breakfasts into reluctant children. The LAST thing you feel like doing is knocking up another meal that suits 5 different palates, 2 different food intolerances and a recent vegetarian.

There are many options open here – with “running away” right at the top of the list. Failing that, here are the 3 features you should look for in a Friday night non-meal:

  1. Minimal cooking time. Boiling rice, or browning meat with pre-mixed flavouring doesn’t count
  2. Minimal washing up – half the battle is the washing up, so keeping that to only a few plates is important
  3. Low cost – cooking on a budget adds another degree of difficulty to an already laborious duty.

The Family Beast has some Friday night non-meal ideas that ticks all the boxes above and can even be considered nutritious!

Idea 1) Tacos
This is a meal that suits just about every diet variation you can think of. Gluten free – tick, easy vegetarian option – tick, more than one food group – tick, fresh and raw food – tick, home-made option – tick, food enticer’s such as cheese – tick. One of the best ways to eat tacos is outside so it’s also perfect for a garden or park picnic – the smaller the children the more highly recommended al fresco is. Children love to build their own version from the options available – something The Family Beast calls ‘controlled autonomy’ (give a selection of choices where there is no bad option, and let children choose whatever they like with no interference). Idea number 1a) is Nachos and it comes from the very funky Kim from KimbaLikes who knows how to rock Friday night dinner right outta the kitchen and onto the sofa.

Idea  2) DIY
As children get older, there is no reason why they should not be let loose in the kitchen to make their own food. There are some easy to make, relatively nutritious foods that children can make for themselves with light supervision/assistance. One of the few positives about Friday dinner (apart from that glass of wine) is that it’s not technically a school night so standards can drop. High on our list of ‘cook it yourself’ is French toast, baked beans on toast, sushi, and Vietnamese rice paper rolls (don’t be intimidated by sushi and Vietnamese rice paper rolls, details are here ). Omlettes and scrambled egg have made an appearance as well.

Idea 3) The sharing plate
Another great excuse to use controlled autonomy, the sharing plate consists of any finger food your children will eat. Olives, cheese, carrot, celery, flatbreat, some hummus, slices of apple, pear, orange, nuts, dried fruit etc on a big plate. Just leave everyone to pick what they want. Easy and very light on washing up tasks.

Idea 4) Salads
Obviously this only works if you have the type of children who eat salad – but salads can deliver a lot of nutrition with very little fuss, cooking or cleaning up. Raise Healthy Eaters is a blog that has 8 salad ideas that are healthy and scrumptious.

Idea 5) Eat out
While this tip doesn’t always meet all three criteria – a night out can be of great benefit to everyone – even more so if you leave the children at home (with a babysitter who can cook) and head out for a decent meal that you had absolutely nothing to do with. Cheaper, shorter and closer to home than a holiday but with almost as much restorative punch.

What are your top tips for easy Friday dinners?

 

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