Saturday, 27 September 2014

Getting back into school routine with the Birds Eye #Afterschoolchefs Challenge

I love cooking. Cooking from scratch, globe-cooking, trying new and innovative recipes that I've found online or in my numerous cookery books. Except on Thursdays. I get in from work at 6pm, tired out, ready to do battle with the kids' homework and needing something on the table within about half an hour. Preferably something that can cook itself so that I can supervise the kids, catch up with everybody's day and grab five minutes me-time.

Luckily Birds Eye understands that teatimes can be stressful and this September, they're providing busy families with a helping hand by recruiting a team of  mini #Afterschoolchefs to show off six recipes that both parents and kids will love. They also sent us through some vouchers to try out some of their products and I stocked up on Mini Potato Waffles, Chicken Chargrills and frozen peas.

The Chicken Chargrills can be cooked from frozen, as can the waffles, so I can just grab them straight out of the freezer at the last minute, shove them on a baking tray, put them in the oven then go and sort out family affairs for half an hour. This is not just a time-saver but an absolute sanity saver !

I was actually pleasantly surprised when I looked at the nutritional information and learned that the Chicken Chargrills are made with 100% chicken breast. The Southern Fried Chicken ones contain 240 calories per grill, which isn't bad.

The Mini Potato Waffles were better than I expected too - 3 mini waffles provide just 100 calories and 5g of fat (of which saturates 0.6g).

According to the Madhouse kids, you can't eat potato waffles without peas because squishing a pea into each hole is an integral part of the eating experience apparently (who am I to complain if it gets them eating vegetables?!)

Just a quick warning - the Reggae Reggae ones have got a serious chilli kick ! The kids found them too spicy and much prefer the Southern Fried ones. The grown-ups liked them though, and they're fabulous chopped up in wraps with salad.

Juliette, who normally has a sparrow's appetite, showed her appreciation by trying to fit all of her potato waffles on her fork in one go !

My Top Tips for Tear-free Term-time Teatimes

1) After a long day at work and school, use teatime as a moment to reconnect and spend quality time together. Don't make it into a battlezone by trying to introduce foods they don't like or obsessing over their 5-a-day - save that for the weekends and holidays when everyone is less tired. Don't forget, baked beans and tinned spaghetti count as one of their veg portions (yes really !), and fruit for dessert or fruit juice can help top up their vitamins too.

2) Make sure you always have at least one "cook from frozen" option in the freezer, for those days when you realise you've forgotten to defrost something or you get home too tired to cook from scratch.

3) Go for things that can cook themselves with very little input from you - roast dinners, casseroles, anything in the slow cooker and things that you can just pop under the grill are all good options to free yourself up to help with homework or just unwind.

4) Save yourself a job by minimising washing-up - after my chicken chargrills, potato waffles and peas meal, the plates and cutlery all went in the dishwasher and all I had to wash by hand were a pretty much clean baking tray and saucepan from the peas !

5) Make it fun - squishing peas in the holes in waffles, stirring ketchup into mash to make it go pink, placing food on the plate to look like faces, threading uncooked spaghetti through hot dog sausages so that the kids think it's magic when it's cooked - it doesn't have to be complicated but try to inject some good humour into the mix, to stop grumpiness when they're tired after a long schoolday (and you're tired after a stressful day at work too !)

Disclosure :  This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Loch Ness Bagel Monsters !

MU Caterpillar Sandwich - A monster of a sandwich to keep the kids entertained


  1. I love the ideas but with a son who does not eat anything runny or green -I am limited!!!!

  2. My son has five children and does most of the cooking so I shall pass this on to him. The children range from 1 to 11 so there should be something for everyone.

  3. enjoyed reading your post. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part