As a mum who can be in turn lazy and highly organised, I’ve come across a few ingenious ways to stay sane at dinner time when I’ve only got a few minutes to prepare before the lounge room explodes in a crying screaming toddler fight club. That delightful part of the Witching Hour when you realise the kids should have been fed about 30 minutes ago and there’s only so much more Paw Patrol they’ll watch before heads start to explode with hanger (it’s a thing).
The first quick dinner I discovered was scrambled eggs with a bit of grated zucchini and cheese thrown in: prepped in two minutes, cooked in three, cooled in one minute and then eaten over the course of eternity with questions about why is the sky blue thrown in to really draw it out. (Faaarck knows kid. Just Google it!) Being lazy, I served this up about 20 times in a four week period, leading to Sussie cracking it by declaring “Don’t like it!” and that was the end of that. I had a dream run there for a while.
The second quick dinner is baked beans straight from the can. Sometimes I get fancy and put it into bowls for my two children, but rest assured, I have learnt from my previous mistake with the eggs and this is very much an emergency meal (plus a steady diet of baked beans does NO ONE a favour in the smell department if you know what I mean).
My third is Spaghetti Bolognese. It never used to be- all that chopping and frying and stirring and just a bit more of this, that and the other. Prior to children, my Bolognese efforts were at least an hour in the making- ain’t nobody with kids got time for that! Now, my Bolognese takes 15 minutes (lazy) because I make a bucket load and freeze it in portions (organised) and it tastes bloody unreal (winning!).
Unfortunately, my recipe does require a lot of time initially, but the benefits of a few hours of a slow child care afternoon vastly outweigh the disgustingness of trying to feed kids from the seat of your pants. There’s lots of vegies which, if you cook them, melt down into the sauce and it all tastes pretty good.
I have given quantities here for one family sized meal (2 adults, 2 kids) and 2-3 frozen portions depending on what you’re going to lengthen it out with on defrosting. I would usually double the recipe below because I’m lazy as all get out.
2 onions (finely diced)
6 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 stalks of celery (very finely diced)*
2 carrots (very finely diced)*
1 zucchini (very finely diced)*
200 gms of mushrooms (very finely diced)*
700 gms of passata (tomato puree)
2x400gm of diced tinned tomatoes
100gm of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of vegemite
2 tbsp of apricot jam/fruit chutney
2 tblsp of mixed herbs
1 kilogram of mince (I like to get the pork and veal combo packets. If unavailable, use half pork and half beef mince)
Salt and pepper
*I do this in a food processor (thermomix) and have also whizzed the crap out of the veggies in a nutribullet/blender with a bit of water. Don’t chop them up by hand, it’s boring.
In a very large pot, gently fry onion in olive oil until translucent.
Add garlic and fry for another minute.
Add carrot and celery and fry for around 3 minutes.
Add zucchini and mushrooms and fry for around 2 minutes.
Add passata, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, vegemite, jam or chutney, herbs salt and pepper. Use a cup of water to rinse out bottles and tins and add to the pot. of Bring to the boil and then turn to a simmer.
Add mince and using a wooden spoon, break up into very small pieces until it resembles cooked mince.
Simmer gently for as long as you can (makes it taste amazing- don’t skip this step!), two hours at least with the lid on, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom. If it looks a little watery, take the lid off for the last hour or so. If you have a slow cooker, you could transfer once the sauce is simmering and finish it in there on high for a few hours.
Serve with pasta, parmesan and a garden salad (pffft I never do that).
Place left over mince in desired portions and once cooled, label and place in freezer.
(Don’t label at your own peril. Kids really love a spicy lamb rogan josh on pasta when they’re expecting bolognese #true story)
NB add extra diced vegies by all means, just remember to adjust the salt content.
Disclaimer: I am NOT A CHEF!!! I’m a reasonable home cook. I’m also quite bad at math and anything to do with numbers but the quantities here should work out. The method is an absolute winner.