A struggle for us as working parents with a child in nursery is making sure that she eats well (PG that is, not the wife – though she’s important too!). The daily routine feels crazy sometimes. Up at 6.30am, out of the door at 7.10am. Get to nursery at 7.30am and onto the office for 8am (if I’m lucky). Coming home I usually get to nursery around 5.10pm and then get home with PG around 5.45pm. If traffic is hell it can easily be after 6pm sometimes. With bed time looming it’s bloody difficult to make sure she eats well as it’s easy to be tempted to do a lazy unhealthy tea.
Now that PG is knocking on a bit at the ripe old age of two, she only gets a snack in the afternoon at nursery. As a result we have to do something when we get home. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home a couple of days a week which allows me to limit the impact and reliance on ready meals as I can get something cooking before I do the nursery run – slow cook casseroles are the bees knees in the winter, prepare it all on my lunch break and let it cook on high until we are ready to eat it. Makes the house smell like a treat too!. There is one day a week though that it’s all a bit mental, and as guilty as we both feel about it we sometimes end up giving PG a Little Dish Toddler Ready Meal.
Getting the contents right – Nutrition
I would never in a million years give PG adult ready meals due to their salt content. Little Dish have hit the nail on the head with the production of their microwave meals. They are tasty, count towards your kids’ 5-a-day, and are pretty well balanced nutritionally.
PG’s favourite is the cottage pie so let’s breakdown the nutritional data:
|Typical Values||100 g||200g|
|– Of which saturates||1.4g||2.8g|
|– Of which sugars||2.5g||5.0g|
I’m always mindful of salt content when deciding what to give PG to eat. The NHS suggests 1 to 3 year olds should have no more than 2g of salt a day, and in this whole dish there’s only 7% of that allowance. From age 4, the RDA for natural sugars is around 19g. At 5g the sugar content is perhaps a little high, but only comes in at 25%. If you keep to the guidelines about sugary treats and drinks, I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about here.
The Little Dish toddler meals range
There’s a decent array of dishes in the Little Dish range. They have done well at catering for a variety of different tastes. Dietary needs are also support through dishes without wheat, dishes without dairy, and dishes that are vegetarian. The major supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco all stock a good selection of the range, though not all of them. The supermarkets do however seem to be expanding the range that they carry which is good to see.
Little Dish meals are made with 100% natural ingredients, so you know there is no artificial crap in there. As I mentioned earlier they are all low in salt and count towards your 5-a-day (each dish contains at least one of your 5-a-day). As a British company they’re proud to only contain meat and fish from Britain. Making them is child’s play – to be honest I could give it to PG and she’d probably figure out what to do. After all she’s been ‘helping’ with the microwave since she was drinking milk from a bottle! A few minutes in the microwave and ping! It’s ready to eat after cooling for a minute or two.
If we had to choose our top three favourites, I think PG would go for Cottage Pie, Fish Pie, and Beef Lasagne!
Watch out for messy eaters though, as with any tomato based products the sauce can stain like a bitch.
Seriously tomato is one of those devil foods. Every time something tomatoey comes out you can almost guarantee a t-shirt will never be the same again.
The company is super fun too, with a really friendly website with cartoons to match their brand which is obviously aimed at kids.
Other quick cooks
With the above all said, we do have some other ‘quick cooks’ which I want to share with you. These are pretty quick to make and some are cheap too!
- Pepperoni Pasta – this is a firm favourite of PG’s (she says Pepper Oni as though it’s too words – most amusing!). Simply boil some pasta, drain it, add tomato passata and pepperoni, and once the passata and pepperoni are hot, serve. Top with cheese for extra tastiness.
- Thai Green Curry. A bit more involved but still pretty quick, particularly if you buy diced chicken so you don’t have to chop the breast meat yourself. Get some boil in the bag rice boiling away in a pan. Cook the chicken in a wok, add coconut milk and Thai green curry paste (half a jar otherwise it’ll blow your head off!). Slowly bring to the boil then add mange tout for a really nice flavour. Serve the curry on top of the rice and enjoy. We eat this accompanied with prawn crackers and poppadoms.
- Pork Stir Fry. Fry/cook some pork steaks (don’t use loads of oil) then chop into strips so they are easily manageable by little ones. Boil some noodles and vegetables and serve. It’s especially yummy with soy sauce, but put the sauce on the table so everyone can add the flavour themselves. PG hates the stuff so we don’t cook with it.
Do you have any quick healthy eats that are a hit with the little ones? Go wild and tell me all about them, we might even try them! I think Little Dish toddler meals are a great thing to keep in the fridge just in case. They usually have pretty decent use by dates so it’s worth stocking up if you want to give them a try. If you’re lucky one of the supermarkets might even have them on offer!