How fast do summer holidays pass? When I was a kid they lasted forever, so much so that I was almost a different little human on the start of September than the one that ditched the books in the corner of the room back in June.
That’s correct: in June, because my summer holidays lasted just over two months! We didn’t have half-term breaks in Poland and recouped that in summer, so no wonder it felt endless.
It might have felt even more endless for my parents, considering they had to keep me amused for the whole two months. On the other hand, I was perfectly used to fending for my own amusement all year round, being a latchkey kid during the school year. Oh, the days of watching inappropriate daytime television, performing karaoke gigs to my parent’s vinyls and snacking on sliced Emmental spread with jam! The children of today, ferried around from one perfectly structured entertainment to the other, are missing out.
But whether then or now, however differently spent hols, September is the time of shock to the system. Suddenly we’re back on the treadmill, and instead of leisurely barbecues, beach picnics or lunches en route to Hogwarts Studios, we’re having to cook full meals in the ten minutes between the school run and the music lesson. On top of that, our takeaway from those leisurely barbecues was how good it is to have meals together as a family so the heat is on! Quick, easy and nutritious – no pressure then. Well – let me see how I can help out.
Frittata is a genius dish that allows to smuggle in a sensible portion of vegetables, and it couldn’t be easier to make. My broccoli frittata is only an example; scan the post to get ideas for tonnes of variations.
Couscous is another friend. Most small and big people like it (especially if told it’s tiny pasta) and you can stir it into any configuration of raw or cooked vegetables, plus shredded chicken or ham. And it needs only soaking for 10 minutes.
But of course proper, real pasta is always a good option too: tortellini potsticker style cuts a lot of corners, and pasta with smoked salmon and pesto is ready in 20 minutes. Don’t forget orzo: creamy orzo is universally loved and one of the dishes you simply mix and slip into the oven for half an hour. And any amount of pasta left over will make great pasta fritta on the following day.
You can make Korean meatballs in large quantities and freeze them, for super effortless dinners. And portions of cooked rice in the freezer will make fried rice in minutes, with prawns, scraps of beef or a tiny amount of pork.
Tray bakes are a great solution: prepare your tray of ingredients, possibly even in the morning, and in the evening the oven will do the job. Chicken and vegetable, chicken with grapes and olives or tomatoes and chickpeas with feta – all permissible with oven fries.
Keep a batch of pita bread and a stack of tortillas in the freezer, for improvised kebabs out of rotisserie chicken and all-day breakfast quesadillas.
Those and many more ideas and recipes are to be found in the content pages, especially with the ‘easy’ tag. Happy return to school!