Eating well and remaining enthusiastic about meals has become more important than ever over the past year and has inspired families across the country to move outside their comfort zone and get creative in the kitchen. Here, father of three, Ed tells us how his family has changed their eating habits during lockdown.
We have a busy household with three children – a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a newborn. Food has always played a big part in our family’s life. We like to eat out every now and again and enjoy visiting food shows but, since lockdown, cooking and eating together has become even more important to us. My five and three-year-olds are very different in their eating habits. My eldest’s day revolves around the next mealtime and he’ll eat anything and everything (spicy curry, chutney… you name it; he’s tried it), whereas my daughter, would probably be happy eating the same thing every day. Making mealtimes exciting while also keeping them both happy can be challenging.
One thing that’s helped to stop each day blurring into the next is making and eating a homemade “fakeaway” together each weekend. This has given us all something to look forward to and so far we’ve made our own Chinese takeaway (bao buns, stir–fries etc), burgers, fish and chips and even chicken nuggets! My children have really enjoyed getting involved with mixing and stirring and particularly liked squashing rice crispies in a bag to put around the pieces of chicken for the nuggets. It’s been lovely sitting down together and tasting what we’ve made. If this is something you’ve not yet tried the NHS has some good fakeaway recipes on its change4life website for families to make together at home, and also some tips to create healthy takeaways yourself.
“We’ve ended up planting 22 types of fruit and veg! It’s been lovely watching the kids have a great time running around in the fresh air planting seeds.”
Before lockdown we also got a small allotment and working from home has meant we’ve had more time in the evenings (and more energy) to get stuck in… So much so that we’ve ended up planting 22 types of fruit and veg! It’s been lovely watching the kids have a great time running around in the fresh air planting seeds, pulling up carrots and digging up the potatoes. It’s a good reminder that you don’t need to take the kids to a soft play area for them to have fun. I also think that planting and growing have really encouraged my daughter to become more confident about trying new foods, such as kale and strawberries, and watching everyone else trying different foods has encouraged her to do the same.
Also read: The positive impacts of allotments on mental and physical health
It’s been hard at times not being able to celebrate special events together as a family during lockdown. For example, we had planned a lovely birthday party for our son’s birthday and had invited friends and family along – but had to change everything at the last minute. So, instead, we asked him what he’d like to eat for his special birthday meal… and he said he’d like ‘afternoon tea’. I know this sounds like a unusual answer to hear from most children – but it’s not so surprising for our foody son! So, we enjoyed a fabulous afternoon tea in our house and invited all our family to do the same in theirs. We all chatted via Zoom, joked and ate – and had a great party together! It highlighted that food can bring people together for special family times regardless of the circumstances.
Also read: Virtual Family Picnic ideas, tips and activities
One other thing we’ve noticed over lockdown is that our food bills have been rising now the children are home from school, as they’d usually be eating their lunches at school or nursery. Having lots of our own fruit and veg from the allotment has helped us financially and it’s been lovely being able to give our friends and neighbours our surplus to enjoy, as well as making up batches of meals and sauces to freeze for our future use. Soup is also a great way to use up surplus veg.
Also read: Super Soup Recipes
Our third child Isabel came along just a few short weeks ago, but it wasn’t the only way our family has grown during lockdown as we also gained six baby chicks midway through last year. My son likes to go out in the mornings to collect the fresh eggs – and is now no longer content with simply cereal or toast for breakfast or brunch! He’s always thinking up things we can make with our fresh eggs and I commonly hear “Dad, can we have scrambled/poached/boiled eggs today?”
Also read: Inspiring brunch ideas from our Holiday Hub team
And as for me and my wife? Not going out has meant we’ve ended up spending more time in the kitchen baking and cooking. I even got a curry kit for Christmas as one of my presents. I’ve never made a curry from scratch before but am excited to give it a go with the children and, who knows, maybe I’ll try cheese making next? Watch this space!
If any of the above is leaving you peckish why not visit our food page for inspiration?