When I say goodbye to my colleagues at 4pm, the end of my working day, I imagine a lot of them are thinking that while they’re slaves to their desks for another 90 minutes, I’m swanning off home to put my feet up and watch Neighbours. Ha ha ha ha ha – if only!!
The reality is that 4 hours later I’m still racing around, having done the after school crush – I mean, rush – bolted home to empty the dishwasher, put the washing on, do the online supermarket shopping and make the dreaded AFTER SCHOOL TEA. And that’s all before bathtime, reading time and bedtime.
If I thought I could whip up some uber creative meal involving a medley of nutritious home-cooked this, that and the other, all in the space of 30 minutes and expect my child not to turn his nose up at my lovingly prepared creation, then I’d be setting myself up for a major life fail.
Having said that, I wouldn’t want my child eating nutritiously-void rubbish every night, so I try to be realistic and strike a balance between the time I actually have, what he will eat without too many complaints and what is relatively healthy.
If, like me, you get home knackered, lacking energy and enthusiasm for tapping into your inner Delia, then I thought these ‘after school cheats’ might help. Remember, it’s not about being lazy, it’s about being economical with time and holding on to any last scrap of sanity you may still possess by 5pm!
Oh, and they’re all cheap too, which helps.
As my son has a hot school dinner every day, it’s nice to know I don’t have to do a full blown meal in the evenings all the time. Here are my favourite quick after school tea ideas:
- Dippy egg with soldiers – You can’t go wrong with a soft boiled egg with solders. It’s fun to eat, packed with protein and cheap as chips.
Extra tip – if you have your own chickens, all the better. If not, but you have a farm nearby that has chickens, take your kids and let them choose their own eggs – they’ll be much more enthusiastic to eat it then.
- Anything in red sauce on toast – Beans on toast is great, a family winner. But, why limit your horizons and stop at beans when anything that comes out of a tin and that’s red works just as well? Ravioli, spaghetti hoops, sardines (pilchards are essentially the same but cheaper), woah, it’s a world of opportunity out there!
- Tortellini – You know, the little pasta parcels stuffed with a variety of fillings? You can pick these up from all supermarkets and the great thing is, they take about 3 minutes to cook! With or without sauce, tortellini works well, and goes especially nicely with garlic bread. Easy peasy!
- Fish finger sandwich – My gran used to feed me these when I was diddy and back then it was considered ‘poor man’s food’ (although it always smelt and tasted bloody good!) but now a fish finger sandwich is a gastronomical revelation for some reason. Regardless of whether it’s trendy or not, a fish finger sarnie tastes delicious and takes about 20 minutes to prepare – marvellous result!
- Weekday ‘roast dinner’ – I love making (well, eating to be exact) a proper roast dinner that’s taken hours to cook and that’s served with all the trimmings. But in our household the only time for this kind of thing is on a Sunday, if we’re lucky. However, my son’s favourite meal is a roast dinner so I do a cheat’s version during the week which involves either pre-cooked roast chicken or Quorn steaks, frozen Yorkshire puddings and veg and instant gravy. I am fully aware this isn’t an authentic substitute for a proper roast dinner but for a mid-week cheat it’s pretty good!