Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A month of Wednesdays!

healthy eating, meal planning, family food
Put like that it sounds horrible doesn't it?! Wednesday isn't called' Hump Day' for nothing - and every busy parent knows that by the middle of the week you are beginning to feel overwhelmed by balancing caring for your family with other commitments such as work. Suddenly little extras like school trips, cake sales and after-school activities make shopping for, and cooking, a nutritious and tasty meal nigh-on impossible. The solution? A little meal planning and a lovely helping of spaghetti sauce!

One way to help you meet the regular challenge of creating a balanced mid-week family meal is to batch cook and freeze a versatile base to give you several menu options. In this case I worked up four meals from a tasty vegetarian spaghetti sauce using Dolmio Bolognese (bonus - it contains no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners!). Then I set about finding various ways to use it!

Basic bolognese (veggie)

This recipe makes more than enough sauce to cover four family meals (based on two adults and two child portions). Simply divide your mixture into four, and freeze any batches you don't need that day. It can be changed according to the vegetables you already have available.

healthy eating, meal planning, family food

So, just how did I use my veggie bolognese sauce? Let me show you!

Meal 1: Spaghetti Bolognese
Plain and simple - just cook up some spaghetti (wholemeal is best), mix in your Bolognese and top with some hard cheese. You can add a side salad and bread too if you need to fill hunger tummies too.  Younger daughter - aged 8 - tucked in and her review stated there was 'a nice mix of vegetables'!

Meal 2: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
This one takes a little longer - but the results are very easy on the eye. Spread your Bolognese sauce on the base of an ovenproof dish, fill your cannelloni tubes with cooked spinach and ricotta cheese, cover in a cheese sauce and pop in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 180℃. I had a professional review this one (well, Granny actually...) and she said it was 'good looking, with a lovely depth of flavour'.

Meal 3: Savoury Muffins
This one is great for a grab-and-go dinner - which makes it ideal for the those evenings when you're stuck on the sidelines watching your offspring. For this I Googled a cheese muffin recipe, adding a layer of my spaghetti sauce in between the rest of the mixture, then grated over some cheddar. Thirty-minutes later I had 12 muffins ready to pack in my Tupperware - alongside some chopped veggies and hummus. My older daughter (aged 11) thought they were very 'tasty' and 'perfect for after my hour-long swim'. Her emphasis was on the hour-long...

Meal 4: Tacos
Time to spice it up by adding some chilli peppers and red kidney beans to the mix. Fry the chilli in some olive oil and garlic, add in your sauce and some tinned red kidney beans, then heat for 10 minutes. Add to taco shells with shredded lettuce and a dollop of guacamole and sour cream. This was by far my favourite, I like spicy foods - and particularly ones that involve tacos (although you could just as easily add to rice or baked potato)! I do struggle to get the kids to share my enthusiasm though - so for them I just use the plain sauce.

healthy eating, meal planning, family food
My month of Wednesdays menu!
Savoury muffins, veggie spag bol, spinach and ricotta cannelloni &veggie tacos.

So there it is, a month of Wednesdays all with the help of a few jars of Dolmio Spaghetti Bolognese! In each jar, you’ll find at least 10 juicy diced tomatoes, a dollop of tomato puree, half an onion, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs including basil, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two teaspoons of added beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water and nothing more. And it's amazing how versatile this little gem is - you could also make lasagne, a layered courgette or aubergine bake or ratatouille.

Now go and enjoy some of the time you've saved!

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio.