Packing school lunches, ferrying the kids to and from football practice, oh yeah, and your job…it can be a real challenge to get a tasty, nutritious meal on the table every night.
Save yourself from resorting to a take-away or drive-thru on those mega hectic evenings, and try the eight dishes below instead. With these meals, you can get supper on the table painlessly and quickly. Some of the dishes even come together in a single pan – making cleaning up a walk in the park.
1. One-Pot Beef, Roast Potato and Mushroom Curry
If you fancy a deliciously spicy meal, this one-pot recipe won’t disappoint. Even better, the curry can be created in under 30 minutes. Don’t have time to chop and cook the potatoes? Cheat by using McCain Gastro Roasts instead, for a scrumptiously crispy and tasty twist.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 400g diced beef
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large potato, chopped into small chunks (or frozen roasties, such as McCain’s Gastro Roasts; cook in oven, according to package instructions).
- 1 aubergine, trimmed and chopped into chunks
- 250g button mushrooms
- 2-4 tbsp curry paste (depending on how hot you like it)
- 150ml vegetable stock
- 400ml can reduced-fat coconut milk
- Chopped coriander, to serve
- In a large saucepan, heat up the oil, brown the meat then stir in the potatoes (or pre-cooked roast potatoes), and the onion. Pop a lid over the top, then cook over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the aubergine and mushrooms, cooking for a further few minutes.
- Spoon in the curry paste, and tip in the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 10 mins (until the potato is soft). Mix in the coriander, and serve alongside rice or naan bread.
2. Classic Bangers and Mash
A favourite British and Irish dish, the name bangers is thought to come from the habit of sausages bursting in the pan with a bang if cooked too quickly! Quick and easy to make, bangers and mash is an inexpensive yet very filling meal. A great favourite with children.
- 1kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 250ml warm milk
- 50g melted butter
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 8 pork sausages
- 1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings
- 500ml beef gravy
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- In a large pan, bring potatoes to the boil and cook for roughly 20 minutes, until soft. Drain, leaving the potatoes in the pan.
- Next, mix the stock cubes into the warm milk until melted. Stir the milk mixture and butter into the potatoes. Mash the potatoes until smooth and velvety.
- In a frying pan, warm the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Using a fork, pierce the sausages in a couple of places, and tip into the pan. Fry, turning regularly, for about 15 minutes until golden-brown and the juices run clear. Take the pan off heat and drain on kitchen roll.
- Add the onion rings to the same frying pan. Over a medium heat, sauté and stir for a few minutes until the onions are gold-brown, but still crisp. Pour in the gravy and warm through.
- Spoon the potatoes onto a large serving plate. Assemble the sausages on top of the potatoes, garnish with the onions and gravy, and scatter on the oregano.
3. Super-Quick Spanish Paella
Who said paella has to be complicated to make? This fuss-free chorizo recipe conjures up memories of sunny days in Spain, and is loaded with fantastic flavour.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek or onion, sliced
- 110g pack chorizo
- sausage, chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 300g long-grain rice
- 1L hot fish or chicken stock
- 200g frozen pea
- 400g frozen seafood mix, defrosted
- Using a deep-frying pan, warm the oil, then soften the leek for a few minutes, making sure it doesn’t go brown.
- Throw in the chorizo and sauté until its oils are released. Scatter in the turmeric and rice until covered by the oils, then tip in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 mins, stirring intermittently.
- Pop the peas in and cook for roughly five minutes, then combine in the seafood, heating through for a final couple of minutes, until rice is cooked. Season well and serve right away with lemon wedges.
4. Spicy Mexican Black Bean Tacos
Veggie-loving families will love to try this delicious taco recipe and experience a real taste of Mexico. Lightly spiced with cumin and smoked paprika, these veggie bean tacos are garnished with fresh guacamole and a pomegranate salsa. Yum.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 x 400g cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp honey
- 1 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
For the guacamole
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander
- 1 green chilli, sliced
- 2 avocados, halved and stoned
- Juice 1 lime
For the salsa
- 110g pack pomegranate seeds
- 1 green chilli, finely diced
- 1 small white onion, finely diced
- Small handful fresh coriander, chopped
- 8-12 corn or flour tortillas
- Chipotle or other hot sauce
- Soured cream or coconut yogurt
- Warm the oil in a large frying pan then add the garlic. Cook until golden-brown, then pour in the beans. Add the cider vinegar, honey and spices, as well as one teaspoon of salt, to taste. Fry until cooked through, mashing lightly with the back of your wooden spoon. Then put to one side.
- To make the guacamole, use a large stone pestle and mortar, or a medium bowl and a flat-ended rolling pin. Make a paste out of the garlic, coriander and chilli. Tip in the avocado, adding a touch of salt, and roughly mash – so it’s chunky rather than smooth. Add a splash of the lime juice and put to one side.
- In a small bowl, stir in the salsa ingredients.
- Warm a griddle pan or steamer, and swiftly griddle the tortillas, heating a pile of them by steaming. Recook the bean mixture.
- Serve up the dish by ladling a couple of heaped tablespoons of beans on a tortilla. Garnish with a large dollop of guacamole and a spoonful of salsa, hot sauce and a splodge of soured cream or yogurt.
5. Easy-Peasy Thai Prawn Curry
Put your feet up after an exhausting week with a bowl of something zesty – my tasty Thai green prawn curry. This bowl of warming, low-fat prawn curry is perfect for the whole family, and is ready in just 20 minutes.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh root ginger
- 1-2 tsp Thai red curry paste
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 50g sachet coconut cream
- 400g raw frozen prawns
- Coriander, chopped, to serve
- In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the oil. Throw in the onion and ginger, sautéing for a couple of minutes until tender. Spoon in the curry paste, then cook for roughly one minute more. Empty in the chopped tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about five minutes, adding a splash of boiling water if the mixture gets too thick.
- Add the prawns, then fry for about another 10 minutes (depending on how big they are). Serve with plain rice, and garnish with a sprinkling of chopped coriander.
6. Hearty Greek Moussaka
A much-loved Greek favourite, this fuss-free moussaka dish is wholesome, delicious and easy to create for the whole family. Of all the traditional lamb recipes, moussaka is probably one of my absolute favourites – I just can’t get enough of it!
- 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1cm slices
- 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 600g minced lamb
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- White sauce
- 250ml milk
- 25g butter
- 25g flour
- A sprinkling of grated nutmeg
- 30g crumbled feta cheese
- 250g ricotta
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Scatter some salt over the aubergine and leave for 30 minutes to draw out bitter juices. Using a colander, wash aubergine and squeeze out left-over liquid. Dry well with a kitchen towel. Tip into a roasting tin and spoon over a little olive oil so it’s completely coated. Roast for 30 minutes.
- In a pan, warm up one tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Tip in the mince, breaking up with a fork until charred. Throw in garlic, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon and coriander, stirring for a couple of minutes.
- Sprinkle in the herbs, tomatoes and purée. Mix. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, lidded, for 30 minutes.
- Next, melt the butter in a pan, then take off heat and stir in the flour and mix. Place back over the heat, and gently mix in the milk. Stir over a medium heat until thickened. Season well and throw in the cheese and ricotta. Stir, then set aside to cool.
- Using an ovenproof dish, scoop in a third of the lamb mixture, half the aubergine, the lamb, the rest of the aubergine, ending with the remaining mince (feel free to layer with more/less, depending on the dish size but just ensure the top layer is lamb).
- Gently beat the egg in a separate bowl, then mix into the white sauce. Garnish with white sauce and bake in oven for 50 minutes.
7. Nutritious Butter-Chicken Curry
Love butter chicken, but not so keen on its calorie content? Then this healthy version is for you! It’s bursting with all the flavours, creaminess and fullness of your typical Indian restaurant meal – minus the calories. Both your taste buds – and waistline – will love it.
- 1 tbsp light butter
- 500g chicken thighs, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garam marsala
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (stalk and leaves)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 180ml chicken stock
- 120ml low-fat Greek yoghurt
- 60ml low-fat thickened cream
- 370g cooked rice
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Using a non-stick frying pan, heat up half the butter.
- Tip in the chicken and onion, browning for a few minutes.
- Take the mixture off the heat, and set aside.
- Turn heat down to low and scoop in the rest of the butter, together with the garlic, ginger, cumin, garam marsala, cardamom and coriander.
- Sauté for a few minutes then return chicken to the pan, as well as the tomatoes and chicken stock.
- Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
- Bring the heat down and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Next, add yogurt and cream.
- Warm through, and serve on rice topped with coriander leaves.
8. Super-Easy Spaghetti Bolognese
This fast-track recipe for the classic Spag Bol is bursting with Italian flavour and cooks in just 10 minutes! It’s the ultimate, speedy, family-friendly recipe – you and the kids will love it.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp sugar
- A few basil leaves
- 400g spaghetti
- Grated parmesan
- Warm the olive oil in a pan, add the crushed garlic clove, then gently fry for a minute or so.
- Throw in the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock powder, tomato purée and sugar, then bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat, then simmer uncovered for a few minutes, stirring intermittently.
- Serve with a few basil leaves, then mix into the sauce.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain, and serve garnished with the sauce and parmesan.
I’m pretty sure these quick, easy family recipes will satisfy everyone at the table – even the kids. And, more importantly, I hope they ease your weeknight dinner stress.
Which recipe would you try first?