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In need of foodie inspiration – help please!

I am trying to get back into a little bit more control of our lives and to get back to having lists controlling everything. 

I’ve done a timetable for the week showing what classes and activities the girls are up to. 

I’ve updated our family diary with what and where we’re supposed to be (for some reason my electronic diary isn’t working… need the IT Help Husband to get onto that, the prospect of nasty clashes is in direct proportion to the ability to have a diary with the right information on to hand).

And that leaves me with food – I hate wasting food and I feel as if we’ve got into a bit of a food rut, that we’re eating the same boring things each week.

In an ideal world I’d like to get to a place where I have a few weeks of menus planned and then all I have to do is tailor them to changes in who is around and where we are and order the groceries to be delivered.  Trouble is that I have sat down to try and list out all the things we eat and I like to cook and that I know people won’t be too fussy about and its not a very long (or even very exciting) list.

And I’m totally lacking inspiration.  Not helped by the whole having to keep things dairy free – yes I know I can tweak receipes but I’ve lost imagination and it seems like everything needs to include cheese, or cream, or something on the banned list.

So please can you share with me your menu plans, your fabulous easy to cook recipes and please can you inspire me.

I need a new set of recipes that are easy to throw together and that the girls and fussy Mr Muddling will enjoy.  I’m happy to try and adapt new things to be dairy free (or even to have nice dairy including things for Mr and me).

Can you help?


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26 comments to In need of foodie inspiration – help please!

  • I was in a similar rut recently and did 2 things that have helped inspire me to add some new dishes. The first was to make from scratch some of the things we eat anyway, bean burgers, sweet & sour chicken & fajitas have been a great success. The second was to eat meat & fish free at least one night a week. That has been brilliant & we eat vege a couple of times a week now. Chris at Thinly Spread does great Meat free Monday recipes.
    Also treat yourself to a new recipe book. Nigella’s Kitchen or Nigel Slater’s Tender are fab. The latter especially good for veg growers.

    • Muddling Along

      That’s a good point – I’ve not had a look at my Economy Gastronomy book on how to make take outs etc

      Definitely need a new cookbook – guess when inspiration fails you need more inspiration!

  • Have you not seen Meal Planning Monday? It was started by Mrs M and she runs a linky every week. Useful to see what other folk are doing. I also link where I can to the recipe.

    I use bbcgoodfood.com for a lot of my recipes as there are a lot of nice easy recipes. I like to get them made around lunchtime or the night before so I’m not cooking with the kids under my feet as it’s slightly manic when they get home from school with activities, homework and the like.

    Check out my blog for my latest MPM post with a link to Mrs M’s blog where you’ll find more.

    • Muddling Along

      No I have not found this – how have I not found this? Thank you for letting me know

      Thanks for putting me in the right direction (and I’m a big fan of cooking enough for our tea the night before so that there is plenty for them for tea the next night)

  • Rachael

    Risottos can easily be made dairy free with Parmesan and a bit of butter thrown in after the kids portions have been removed. My favourites are butternut squash (roast the squash, some of it chopped, mash up the non-chopped squash and stir it through the basic risotto, then add the cubes of squash) or beetroot (purée some roasted beetroot to stir through and again, some cubed roasted beetroot. Top with a dollop of sour cream for the grown ups. It’s a BBC Good Food recipe).

    • Muddling Along

      I’ve shied away from risottos because of the parmesan thing but we can do without for family meals and then add in for parental dairy binges

      Off to have a look at the Beeb site thanks

  • Emma @ Mummy Musings

    We eat a lot of asian dishes that are quick to throw together after work: stir fry, meat/prawns in a chinese or curry sauce (out of a jar if time is short) with rice or noodles.

    Pasta dishes are quick and easy too. Add chicken or seafood, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a few herbs and serve with garlic bread.

    I definitely get stuck in a rut sometimes too and find a quick flick through a couple of recipe books helps me find something different to cook.

    • Muddling Along

      Actually this is a good point – we don’t eat enough stir fry and things

      Have discovered oat cream which will hopefully mean lots of lovely creamy pasta sauces (or alternatively pasta sauces that taste like ground up gravel…)

      • Happiest Baking

        Sorry to butt in on your conversation but I’m having a dairy free spell and I’m intrigued by the oat cream. Please could you tell me where I could find it? In fact any source of dairy free cheese substitutes would be fab?
        Thank you

        • Muddling Along

          Found it on the ocado website – dairy free cheese is a big problem, I can find ones with soya but we can’t have soya. That said I have heard a rumour of rice cheese… which sounds grim

  • Flaf

    Am loving my Leon cookbook. Lots in there dairy free, all v filling and fab

    • Muddling Along

      There’s a Leon cookbook – how have I gone for lunch there (and sneaky afternoon I can’t bear being at work moments) and not noticed? Guess what I’ll be getting with my meatballs tomorrow!

  • Sounds like you’ve got the economy gastronomy book, one thing I got from there that was really helpful was buying a kilo or 2 of mince cooking it up, bagging up to stick in the freezer. Then you can turn it into spag bol, chilli, lasagne, moussaka, shepherds pie etc quickly and easily. I use mince a lot so much you can do with it, burgers, meatballs plus the above.

    I have made a list of meals I tend to cook (about 25) and try to rotate them whilst doing one new recipe weekly or every 2 weeks.

    I second the new recipe book idea, love Nigel Slater and my new favourite Ottolenghi, that man knows how to turn vegetables into pure deliciousness. There are loads of his recipes on the net just google him.

  • MmeLindor

    Are eggs ok? Quiche is quick and easy to make. Or homemade pizza – the kids love to help with that. You could do cheese free version, more of a foccaccia type bread with ham and herbs and olive oil.

    What about salmon? I have a fab recipe for salmon in puff pastry with rice that is incredibly easy to make but really delicious.

    • Muddling Along

      Eggs are ok if really well cooked (we think, not totally sure yet but hoping they are)

      We do homemade pizza – great because we can do separate pizzas so Littler can have dairy free (am petitioning Mr for a pizza oven in the garden… and it is one thing the Aga does well – think we have receipe somewhere in the back logs of the blog)

      Salmon in puff pastry with rice sounds lovely – please can I have the receipe

  • We do a big batch at weekends and freeze into kiddie and adult sized portions for the week. Jane Clarke has a good book of recipes that I think includes sections for allergies / intolerances. Is it possible to convert things that require cream/butter and use oil / soya instead?

    • Muddling Along

      We can’t do soya because there’s a cross allergy thingy but otherwise I’m not doing badly about making recipes up based on normal ones and converting ingredients (trouble is I love cheese and butter and all the things that we need to avoid for Littler)

  • Don’t know if you have tried using lentils in your diet. Its tasty, its healthy and a decent source of protein. You can try making a lentil soup or make a dal ( indian way of cooking lentils) with rice.

  • Hi,
    As promised 1 lentil soup recipe – this is the one I use, but there are literally hundreds of variations:

    40g uncoooked lentils (I use red, but you can use whatever you prefer – red don’t need soaking!)
    2 leeks, chopped
    1 pepper (any colour) chopped
    2 carrots (medium size(ish)) chopped
    1 courgette, chopped
    1 small sweet potato, chopped (diced)
    1 litre of vegetable stock – I use Kallo low-salt cubes (no MSG unlike other brands) and dissolve 2 in to 1 litre of hot water.
    Garlic clove, chrushed (optional)

    Chuck (highly technical term!) all ingredients into a big saucepan, bring to boil, turn down to low simmer (about 2/3 on my hob). I then leave it for about an hour.

    You can cook it quicker, red lentils only take 30 mins to cook. I prefer to cook it slightly slower, more flavoursome.

    About 10 minutes before the end throw in a small carton of chopped tomatoes.

    Then once ready, use a hand blender and whizz up.

    Serve immediately, or leave to cool and pop in freezer bags and then freeze. To use defrost, and heat.

    Further to one of the other comments, I’ve got a Jane Clarke Bodyfoods cookbook and she is very good, worth a read.

    Good luck.

  • I’m not into ‘meal planning’ in as much as I usually just throw together whatever is in the fridge most of the time, unless I’m recipe testing/blogging etc However I have tried Spoonfed Suppers, which has recently had a bit of a make-over to include a free weekly meal plan (which I tried) or a subscription service to cater for individual requirements. Might be worth a look? Ren


    • Muddling Along

      I did look at them a while back but had stopped for some reason – thanks

      Can’t do footloose, just seems to end up with too much wasted food and I hate that

  • Hello

    I have a really nice mid-week recipe called ‘One Pot Chicken’ – it’s also dairy free. In my house usually I just make it for me and my husband, but the kids do like it. Or sometimes I’ll just add a bit of extra chicken and then save that chicken for the kids the next day to have with some rice and veg. It is so quick and easy and tastes delicious (I got it from a magazine). I’m not sure if it is your sort of thing, but I’ll give you the recipe in case it is:

    Serves 4 (though we always half it as it doesn’t keep well)
    -1 sprig rosemary
    -4 cloves garlic (it says unpeeled but I peel them as they don’t really go soft enough to eat otherwise)
    -4 chicken legs (but I use breasts cut into cubes as I don’t like legs)
    – 150g chorizo (I use the ready diced chorizo from Sainsburys as it is tangy without being too spicy, which I and the kids prefer. If you prefer if spicier taste then the whole sausage cut up is probably better)
    – Juice 1 lemon (we even use 1 lemon when we half it, just makes more juice)
    – 250g cherry tomatoes
    – handful fresh basil leaves

    – Heat oven to 200C
    – In a heavy saucepan/casserole dish, place the (raw) chicken, drizzle with olive oil, scatter with rosemary leaves and garlic, season with salt and pepper (I just do pepper as the chorizo is salty enough).
    -Tuck the chorizo round the chicken, squeeze over the lemon juice, drizzle on a little extra olive oil
    -Roast in the oven for 30 mins, then add the tomatoes, mix it up to coat the chicken and tomatoes in the juices and cook for a further 15 mins.
    – Scatter with the basil leaves before serving.

    We have it with either just bread, or with rice – both soak up all the juices. If you use breasts like I do they do look a bit pale coloured, but it really does taste delicious. It is so easy and quick, we come back to this one time and time again.

    S x

  • Gillian

    Looks like you’ve got loads of good recipe ideas… will try and think of any others if I get my brain cell to myself for a minute at any point! My friend’s wee one is properly allergic to dairy too, and just last week she was telling us that he can have garlic bread and coleslaw if they buy the Asda Smartprice stuff. Not a meal, but I thought of you when she was telling me about it…

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