Guilt Free & Easy Meals – Viva la Cooking Sauce

When it comes to being fed, my children are fairly easily pleased. Well, obviously not all of them all of the time, but they are used to a ‘one meal fits all’ approach and have learnt to live with it. I am a functional cook, not terribly adventurous, but can be relied upon to get a hearty nutritious meal on the table most days. I shop on the basis that I will be feeding 7-8 people at each mealtime, so rarely even contemplate ready meals – heating individual meals for so many is inconvenient and the cost is prohibitive. Anyway, I’m a bit of a control freak and like to know exactly what goes into the meals I provide.

This may seem like a full-time job but to be honest, most meals on our table follow a set formula:- some kind of meat (chopped up small for the child who can’t chew meat) and whatever vegetables are to hand magically transformed into a recognisable dish by a jar of organic cooking sauce – and generally served with fair trade pasta, rice or organic noodles. Chilli, spaghetti Bolognese, stir fry, sausage pasta, sweet and sour, curry…the variations are numerous. Moreover, the advantages of such a system are endless:-

  • You only use half as much meat as you would with individual portions (financially and environmentally sound)
  • You can have a cupboard full of sauces and pasta, rice and noodles so that there will always be a meal to hand
  • There is a great variety of organic sauces out there – check out Meridian or Seeds of Change for some ideas
  • If all else fails for the vegetarian in the house (ie. If I don‘t get round to cooking him anything), he can open a tin of Free & Easy chilli or curry without going hungry
  • You are in complete control of what goes in
  • The jars are easily recyclable unlike the packaging of the equivalent in ready meals
  • This type of meal can stretch if someone extra turns up unexpectedly or can be kept and reheated for anyone who arrives home late (and eaten up for breakfast the next day by my child who prefers leftovers for breakfast to cereal or toast)
  • The fair trade and organic content of meals is considerably higher than with any other alternative
  • A meal can be rustled up in ten minutes after having picked one child up from tennis and before another has to be at dancing
  • There’s something very satisfying about setting two big pots of steaming food on the table and ladling it out (rather like Mummy Bear)

So there we go. Ten reasons for stocking up on cooking sauces. Call it cheating if you want. Sauces could be made from first principle, I know that. I’m no superwoman. I make compromises. Anyway, it works for us. We survive. Not much gets thrown away. My sanity is intact. No-one complains (to my face, anyway) that the food I cook is boring. At least I cook. Not that ideas for easy healthy meals with ethical ingredients for a large family would not be welcomed. Of course they would. I look forward to hearing from you and trying some new recipes out on my tribe.

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  • mummy2oneofeach

    I couldn’t agree more! Jars of sauces are a godsend – especially when you’ve got two tired preschoolers demanding their dinner – NOW! Our favourites are the Seeds of Change – it’s so nice to read the ingredients label and actually understand what each one is! The pasta sauce is my “not so secret” secret ingredient to my veggie spagbol – approved by meat eaters too! Have to say though my 4 year old son is truely unadventurous and we always have to have a jar of pesto to hand for him…