The Dinner Files- Debbie from Saucepan Kids

This week on The Dinner Files it’s the turn of Sligo blogger Debbie from Saucepan Kids.

Saucepan Kids is a great resource for getting the kids cooking and Debbie’s own three are amazing cooks. She’s passionate about teaching kids how to cook real food.

You may have seen Debbie and her kids cooking on TV, they’ve been on a few times.


The Questions

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

It depends on the day and if any of the three kids have after school activities or not. I like to have dinner on the table by 6pm where possible as I’m normally fit to chew someone’s arm off by then. We always sit around the table in the kitchen unless one of the kids is cross about something then they might sit at the kitchen counter on their own.

How do you get dinner on the table in the evening?

Dinner is often based on something that was precooked and frozen. However I’m not very organized and often forget to take something out. When we cook, we always try to batch cook if we can and fill the freezer for another day. If we’re cooking from scratch, I like to start prepping things while the kids are doing their homework, that way I can chat to them about their day. I always try to give somebody something to do to help. Not because I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to do everything myself (ahem!) but I think it’s really important to get kids involved in some way in preparing dinner. My kids are aged 11, 11 and 13 and are more than capable, if not always enthusiastic, to help out.

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

Well I do try to meal plan when I can. I can’t do the ‘decide on the day’ kind of thing. I try to do one weekly supermarket shop so I need to have at least a rough idea on what we’re going to eat that week.

What dishes regularly appear on your dinner table?

We are pretty traditional in our dinners, pasta, stir-fry, risotto, stew, roast, curry, that sort of thing.

What dish is guaranteed clean plates all around?

Homemade pizza is a sure fire plate clearer. Oh and homemade fajitas is probably the second favourite in this house.

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?

This is a great question, yes we do often cook the same things but then I get incredibly bored. I tend to get inspiration from the following four places :

Cookbooks – Jamie Oliver and River Cottage are my go to books (although about 30 others!)

Easy food magazine which arrives on the doorstep every month

Internet – BBC Good Food,,, Saucepan Kids 😉

Food Bloggers – there are a quite a few I follow and I would try out their recipes.

What’s your favourite quick dinner solution?

A really simple pasta with homemade tomato sauce – heat some olive oil in a saucepan, throw in some rosemary and bay leaves from the garden and sliced garlic. After a few minutes of sizzling, remove the herbs and chuck in a tin of plum tomatoes and season well. Break up the tomatoes and after about ten mins on a fast simmer, blitz the sauce with a hand blender and stir into cooked pasta.

What’s your favourite junk-food dinner?

We love a Chinese takeaway but only have it every two or three months. It’s something we’ve never been able to really master ourselves at home.

Do you eat the same as your kids?

Yes, always.

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

I have one who dislikes roasted tomatoes and one who doesn’t like sweet potatoes or cous cous.

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

I’m quite lucky, my lot will eat everything, sushi, oysters, liver…

What is your own, all time favourite dinner?

My husband’s beef bourguignon. The marinade takes two whole bottles of burgundy!

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

It’s going to sound obvious and I need to listen to my own advice sometimes but get organised. Try to not to leave it till you get home from work, school or wherever to decide what you’re going to cook.

Batch cook and freeze extra wherever possible. Label (and date) everything that goes in the freezer.

Get the kids to help out

Who’s washing up?

Always a team effort.

Thanks so much for taking part Debbie. Your dinner list has my mouth watering. I agree that batch cooking and freezing is the key to dinner success. The Saucepan Kids sound like an adventurous bunch, I can’t see my three savouring oysters or liver, but I have one that likes sushi, that’s not a bad start I guess.


  1. This is such an interesting series Sinead.
    Debbie, that’s great that your children eat almost everything.

  2. Thanks Sinead. I love the dinner series idea!

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