Last month, I was asked to take part in a seven day menu review - FEED YOUR FAMILY GOOD FOOD FOR LESS.
which was looking into feeding your family healthier options, for as little as £10 per day, putting leftover foods to use, prepping, and using Frozen, Fresh and Ready Prepped Foods.
It also focused on using limited equipment - the only equipment I had to use throughout the week, daily was the microwave, a hob, frying pan/pot and a grill.. On one occasion a blender.
I was provided with a week's worth of shopping, a set menu, recipes, information booklets and a feedback form.
We finished this menu over the weekend, and so I thought, after filling in the feedback form, I would do a blog post about it, and how it affected our family.
Well, we made a variety of different meals, and I'm not even going to tell a lie, at first, when I looked at some of the meals I thought to myself, eugh, I wouldn't even eat that, let alone my girls.
My two girls are the most fussiest eaters I have ever came across, getting them to eat, not just healthy foods, but any food, can be a challenge in itself, and I knew this was going to be a challenge.. Heck, it's not just them, how can I expect them to be anything but fussy, when their Dad has a freak out of Broccoli?
I wasn't giving up, as much as I dreaded trying some of these meals, our family needed change during mealtimes, and this was the way to go about it.
The first meal we tried was quick and simple - Grilled chicken, with rice and frozen vegetables.
This was quite simple really, everyone enjoyed it. My girls love chicken and rice, and with this meal I'd included mixed vegetables, so there was pea's and carrots, both their favourites.
The meal was very filling, and only took minutes to make, which was very handy.. Quick, Filling and Healthy? Exactly what we were looking for.
The menu didn't just include meal ideas, it also provided snack ideas.
Some snacks were fresh fruit, tinned fruits, greek yogurt, bagels with peanut butter.
Now, I am a huge lover of Bagels, however the girls and David have never ate them, they refused to try them before last week, and I made them try them.
The girls at first were a bit - "no mummy, I can't eat that" - you know the usual, acting as if they would die a slow death if they even so much as tried the tiniest little bit.
However, I managed to get them both to try some, and to my surprise, they both enjoyed it, and cleared their plates.
Another snack idea we had was crackers and cheese, with grapes, apples and a milky drink.. Now usually, for supper before bed, my girls would have sandwiches and a bag of crisps, or a bar of chocolate or a munch bunch yogurt - not very healthy, I know, and it's my own fault, for giving into their fussy ways, if I persisted, I could have gotten healthier options into them - what do they say? anything for an easier life? - well yes, that was it to be honest. I didn't want to listen to their whining and moaning over their bedtime snack, so I gave them what they wanted.. which then didn't lead to a very easy life come sleep time, as they were that hyped up on a sugar rush - you'd think I'd of learned.
Well - I soon did, after last week.
We all sat down as a family, something we rarely did for a before bed snack, we watched a movie together, and had crackers, cheese, apples and grapes for supper, followed by a cup of milk.
The girls ate every single pick, and guess what? they slept absolutely fantastic that week!
No sugar rush at bedtime, they both went straight to bed, and straight to sleep, and both slept ALL NIGHT LONG!
I quickly realised, I had been causing them to be so restless at nights, by filling them with junk foods, when they could have been filling their tummies with thing like this, for much cheaper too, and far more filling than a bar of chocolate.
It was also nice to sit down and enjoy these foods with them for supper - as I would of usually tucked into a bag of crisps watching the soaps - instead I was enjoying something more satisfying and filling, and the kids (and the other half) could prep this with me.
These were two meals on the menu, that I swore I wasn't going to like nor enjoy. I won't lie, I didn't even want to make them as I didn't like the sound of them.
But I knew, I was then being fussy. I had to make them. This week was about trying new foods - foods that we usually wouldn't make or try, trying to venture our taste buds a little bit, and stop ourselves being a family that only ever cooked junk because we were that fussy.
So together David & I both prepped these meals -
Lentil Soup and Corn Beef Stew
We also let the girls help, by fetching us ingredients we needed etc.. So we were working together as a family, preparing our meals.
Even during cooking, I didn't like the look of either of the meals, and was still certain, I wasn't going to like it. I didn't show this to the girls though, as the first sign of me being weak, they would have picked at that, until I gave in, and ordered a takeaway.
But I served the meals out, and low and behold, they might not have sounded nice, but they definitely tasted amazing.. even David agreed, and he doesn't normally like soup or stews, but he enjoyed both, and has asked if we can make the corn beef stew again, and it definitely is something I will make and look forward to having again.
The girls also enjoyed both. Lexie-Anna especially loved the lentil soup and dipping her wholemeal roll into it.
As a family, I think we all have to agree, that our favourite meals of the week was most definitely, the Quesadilla's. We filled them with leftover chicken and mixed peppers, and served with baked beans. These are something I will definitely make again, the whole family enjoyed them, and they were very filling. Something I never would of thought of making either, and definitely satisfied the taste buds.
We also enjoyed a sweet and sour beef stir fry with vegetables and noodles.
My girls are noodle lovers, so this was an ultimate hit with them. David loves sweet and sour, so he enjoyed that, though wasn't too keen on the stir fry vegetables, and I enjoyed it all. It was something different, and although I do love stir frys, I usually only enjoy a gammon five spice stir fry.. so it was nice to change it up a little, and have beef and a different sauce.
The only meals during the entire week we weren't overly keen on was, the salmon pate, and I think it's more because, we don't usually like Salmon anyway, we did try it however but no, it wouldn't be something I'd rush to make again in future.
And the filled tortellini - we enjoyed the pasta sauce, and salad, although we weren't too keen on the filled tortellini. I would make this again, using the brand of pasta sauce, although would stick to ordinary pasta.
Participating in this feed your family - good food for less review, has really giving me a new perspective on the way I fed my family before, and has definitely made me realise, my children, my partner and even myself, are only fussy, because I was allowing us to me.
We weren't willing to try new foods before we took part in this, we just assumed certain foods, we didn't like, without even giving them a chance.
Taking part in this, has opened up our taste buds to other foods, and healthier options.
Before we took part in this, we were doing our weekly food shop and the trolley was being filled with things like - Frozen pizza's, frozen chips, burgers, pasties, breaded chicken and fish - mostly frozen, but unhealthy, and STILL we were having to run out to the shop, to pick other things up for dinner, because we couldn't think of a meal to put together with what we had bought in. We were also eating the same things each week, because we didn't want to try new foods OR we couldn't be bothered standing prepping a meal as I thought it would take up too much time that with two hyper kids, I didn't have, so it was easier to shove fish fingers and smiley faces into the oven for tea.
I am glad and very thankful I was asked to take part in this because it has definitely made me realise that we can eat healthier, and it won't take up too much time, we can eat healthier and it won't cost a fortune. We can use leftovers, and stop wasting so much food.
We can enjoy meals together at a cheaper cost, a healthier cost, and the kids can get involved in the preperation of things, which will and did encourage them to eat the foods/meals, they have helped prepare.
I would highly recommend this menu, to anyone wanting to try changing their families feeding habits, and cut the cost of their shopping. It was really opened my eyes, and I am definitely prepared to make the change now.