The Dinner Files: Nicola from Simply Homemade

Today we’re joined by blogger and mum of five Nicola from Simply Homemade. Nicola’s blog shares some great healthy family meals and sweet treats, so check it out HERE.


Tell us about dinner time in your house- what time is it, where do you sit, who is there?

Monday to Friday we generally have dinner around 5pm, except Tuesdays when it’s 4.30pm because two of the kids have dancing. We all sit down together at the table, apart from my husband the evenings he’s working. Saturday and Sunday we have dinner at 1pm, it’s nice to get it out of the way at that time, in particular if we’re going out or anything.

How do you get dinner on the table in the evening (who cooks/helps, is it precooked and reheated etc)

I cook dinner. Depending on what we are having I’ll prep everything in the morning (potatoes, veg) If it’s something like Bolognese I’ll cook it and re heat it in the evening, other days if we’ve been particularly busy I might use something from the freezer that I’ve batch cooked.

Do you meal plan or do you decide on the day what’s for dinner?

I always meal plan. I sit down on Wednesday and decide what we’re having for breakfast lunch and dinner for the following week. I check what special offers are on in the supermarkets and quite often work around those. For me it minimises waste and helps me stay as close as possible to my grocery budget.

What dishes regularly appear on your dinner table?

Roast chicken & veg, we have it nearly every Sunday, to be honest, it’s a wonder we haven’t morphed into chickens. It’s such a handy dinner though and I use the leftovers for school lunches or Mondays dinner. We often have soup of some sort on Tuesdays with soda bread or a toasted sandwich. We regularly have soda bread pizza, curry, pasta, spag bol & burgers too.

What dish is guaranteed clean plates all around?

Homemade burgers and chips. 6 out of 7 love this dinner, the one who doesn’t is….me! I don’t like beef burgers at all, so I’ve been doing turkey ones occasionally too, they eat them but prefer the beef.

Do you tend to cook the same thing a lot or do you try to mix it up? Where do you get inspiration for different dishes?

I do try to mix it up, just to try and encourage everyone to try something different, then other weeks I just stick to the usual things. I find inspiration everywhere; online, in the supermarket, tv, magazines

What’s your favourite quick dinner solution?

Pasta goes down well when I’m caught out. I usually have some pancetta and parmesan (actually it’s not parmesan, it’s her cheap little sister, Grana Padano) in the fridge so I throw together a quick carbonara or if I have a tomato sauce in the freezer I’d use that.

What’s your favourite junk-food dinner?

I don’t really have one. I do love making a lovely curry with really buttery naan, rice and chips. Not forgetting the obligatory glass of beer or wine to accompany it (in case it’s spicy!!)

Do you eat the same as your kids?

For the most part yes I do, however, I don’t like burgers, meatballs or meatloaf which they all love. I cannot stand sausages either, which everyone else can’t actually understand. I admitted that on Snap Chat recently, I had so many messages telling me they either didn’t believe me or couldn’t understand how I couldn’t like sausages!

Are there ingredients or dishes that face complete refusals at your dinner table?

Too many to count with my eldest boy! None of them will eat mushrooms! They cannot abide them. One of my daughters cannot stand beans, baked beans, kidney beans, butter beans, all beans, detests them.

Are there any adventurous meals everyone at your table will eat?

The only thing slightly unusual I can think of are mussels. They’re probably not all that unusual though are they?? The whole household loves them, I never buy enough! The devour them, even the fussy eater, which we cannot fathom. They mop up the broth then with fresh crusty bread.

What is your own, all time favourite dinner?

My favourite dinner of the year, along with my husband, is Christmas Dinner. We rarely make any major changes. Why fix what isn’t broken? That aside, I made Beetroot & Feta burgers from the first Happy Pear book and they are just divine. I often think about them (the burgers!) and just have to make them again. They are definitely one of the nicest dinners I have ever had.

Have you any tips to share on getting the family fed?

Try not to stress, if a child refuses to eat anything other than bread for a week, don’t worry, save your blood pressure, give them the bread, the following week will be better. My son told me once when he grew up he was going to move into his own house and fill the cupboards with crackers!! I think of those days when he refused to eat much more everytime he leaves the carrots on his plate but has eaten his chicken and potatoes. There was a time he would refuse to eat the potato if the chicken was on the plate.

If time is not on your side and all you can do is offer a sandwich for dinner, do that. Don’t fret about producing the full works every evening, we all have beige days and bland days.

If you have time at the weekend, batch cook, Sinead here at Bumbles of Rice has great batch cooking tips (Bumbles says: Ah, thanks). It will take the pressure off during the week.

Delegate; teach children early to set the table, clear the table, load the dishwasher, make a cuppa for the cook! These are basic life skills they will need anyway, you’ll be doing them a favour.

Who’s washing up?

The dishwasher I hope!

Thanks so much Nicola for taking part. I can’t quite get over your dislike of sausages, and meatballs, they’re my favourite! I have that beetroot and feta burger recipe from The Happy Pear bookmarked for ages, your review will give me the push to make it. I love your tips too, and not just where you recommend my batchcooking tips 😉

Check out Nicola’s blog Simply Homemade HERE.

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