We all have those times when everything happens to be arranged for the same weekend, meaning you’re rushing between play dates, trips out and family get-togethers. It’s days like this that lunch is the last thing you think of. That’s when it’s a good idea to have some things in the cupboard and freezer that are quick to cook and go down a treat. Here are my ideas for busy weekend lunches when you’ve been on the go and probably about to head out again.
Store cupboard pizza
Who doesn’t love pizza? Even if you don’t have one in, never fear as you can whip one up with simple ingredients that you’re bound to have lurking in your cupboards. For a doughy base, pitta bread is great and you can keep a pack in the freezer until you need them. Next, you’ll need some tomato sauce. Whip one up in a pinch with a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree, some crushed garlic, herbs and a splash of olive oil – it’ll taste just like the real thing. To complete your pizza, sprinkle on grated cheese and any other toppings you fancy before grilling for a few minutes until golden brown.
I love a jacket potato – soft, buttery and loaded with toppings – but the only problem is that they take so long! On a full weekend you don’t want to be staring at the oven for an hour, or more if you want them slow cooked and crispy. There is a solution though, as if you keep some McCain Ready Baked Jackets in the freezer, all you have to do is ping one in the microwave for five minutes and hey presto – you’ve got a fluffy jacket potato in double time. I have mine with grated cheese and beans.
When you’ve got a big day coming up, get that slow cooker out and start lunch the night before. If you don’t own a slow cooker, you can easily make a soup on the hob and keep it in the fridge. The favourite in our house is minestrone soup with little pasta shapes floating around in it. Annabel Karmel does a super-healthy version. Take her lead by using alphabet pasta shapes and encourage the children to tuck in and see what letters they can find.
Speaking of pasta, cooking up a batch of pasta sauce that you can put in the freezer will save you heaps of time. You can even hide all sorts of healthy goodness in it. Getting your five-a-day in one meal has got to be a good thing, especially if your afternoon plans include chowing down on cake at a birthday party. This recipe from BBC Good Food is really simple, allowing you to play around with the type of veg you use until you find your favourite combo.
This might not be the healthiest lunch, but it’s seriously delicious and great for sharing. We’re talking nachos, of course. Children will love pulling a stringy, cheesy pile of nachos out and you can create different corners for sour cream, salsa, guacamole and chilli sauce, so everyone gets a bit of what they like. It really needs no recipe as the nachos are sprinkled on a baking tray and topped with cheese – cheddar or Monterey Jack are good melters – and the other sauces before grilling. To get a little goodness in them, I add chopped peppers on top before grilling.