Homemade Vs Readymade

I must admit I haven’t been a fan of ready made meals.

Having such a big family its much easier for me to cook us up a meal together, besides which it would cost a pretty fortune to buy seven individual meals for one tea. The only one I have ever bought previously was a Slimming World curry, as I was making curry for the family and thought this would be a good option for me for the diet. However I found it much too spicy for my taste resulting in half of it being thrown away, so I put this down to a waste of money as well as a hungry belly!

I didn’t think of buying any more, until on day I was in Iceland (the food store not the country), and I was buying some chicken burgers for tea as we had accumulated too many teacakes and didn’t want them going off. The only problem was I knew Littlest Man wouldn’t eat that as he can be pretty fussy. Maybe even a bit lazy I have recently realised, as he tends to get fed up of chewing after a while!

As I strolled up and down the aisles, I spotted a small selection of ready made children’s meals, and so I had a look at them, wondering if I should perhaps pick one up for wee man. I scoured the labels and packaging, as I don’t want to feed my baby crap, but it all sounded healthy enough, no artificial preservatives, salt, etc etc. So I chose him a lasagne, knowing he loves ours when I make my own, and decided I was kind of treating him to a nice tea.

How wrong I was!

 

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This was the meal itself.

I popped it in the microwave and put it on his plate ready to serve! Delicious? Absolutely NOT!

I was highly dissatisfied with the appearance of the lasagne it looked slimy. So I had a taste. Well , the meat was so bland, absolutely no taste whatsoever, ,and the pasta and white sauce was as slimy as it looked, again bland and tasteless.

I was so disappointed. I couldn’t believe this was the standard of food I was expected to feed my son! Why was it so tasteless? Children need to taste their food too and enjoy their meals. Where were the flavours of the mince, the cheese, the herbs, the tomatoes? I give my children such a wide range of foods, they taste so much even the littlest one. He’s nearly two, not just starting weaning!

I felt guilty giving him this but I let him have it thinking he might like it, maybe i’m just being a judgemental mother!

Low and behold, he wouldn’t eat it. I tried feeding him but he still refused. My nine year old asked what he was eating ( obviously she didnt recognise it) and asked if she could try some. I obliged wondering what her verdict would be. It wasn’t positive! she thought it tasted “horrid too”! So with three bad ratings altogether now, I put the horrible so called MEAL in the bin and made him something else.

This has been bugging me ever since , and it was well over a month ago. How can these meals be nice for our kids to eat? They should be eating delicious food just like us. They aren’t even cheap! I’m sure this meal cost about £2.50.

So with this in mind, I am sharing with you my own easy recipe for lasagne, enough to feed the whole of MY family in one go, cheap and very simple as I don’t have time for faffing ! I don’t use any salt in my cooking, as its not healthy and I don’t really like it.

Ingredients

You will need

  • mince meat – I buy 5% fat. its a bit dearer but I’m on a diet, plus I find its not as oily in the finished meal
  • lasagne pasta – I buy mine dried in a box, for under 50p I think
  • 2 boxes Passata – I like to buy the ones with garlic and basil in so it saves me having to put these in
  • dried herbs – any you have in the cupboard. I use mixed Italian herbs in a jar
  • butter
  • milk
  • flour
  • cheese – grated, some for sauce and plenty for on top of lasagna
  • tomatoes – sliced
  • anything you would like to hide in the lasagne eg I add courgette, mushrooms, onion, sweetcorn, etc. that the children might not eat otherwise. Sneaky eh!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Fry the mincemeat in a frying pan. I don’t add any oil as the mincemeat has its own fat to cook in.
  2. While its cooking, chop any secret veg and add to the frying pan if they need cooking first, eg onion, mushrooms, courgette.
  3. When the mincemeat is browned through, pour in the passata and mix through. Add herbs and corn. Turn off the heat
  4. Put two spoons of butter into a small saucepan and melt.
  5. Add two spoons of flour and mix. it will go stodgy but allow to cook for a minute, stirring continuously.
  6. Gradually add small amounts of milk, stirring all the time until the sauce is smooth, and I make up about half a pint.
  7. warm up but don’t boil
  8. Sprinkle in some cheese, I use a coupe of handfuls as I don’t want it too cheesy, and stir until melted. Feel free to taste the sauce and add cheese to your liking. Turn off the heat.
  9. Now comes the fun bit! Get out the tray or dish to make your lasagne in. Its all just about layering.
  10. Scoop half of your meat mixture into the bottom of the tray and spread out evenly.
  11. Cover this with lasagne sheets.
  12. Pour some of the cheesy sauce you made over the pasta sheets so you have a thin layer.
  13. Then start again. Add the other half of the meat mixture on top of the sauce, cover with lasagne sheets, then pour more sauce on the top.
  14. Sprinkle grated cheese all over the top of the lasagne, I like to do a nice generous covering.
  15. decorate the lasagne with the sliced tomatoes and put in the oven.
  16. Leave to cook until cheese is browned and pasta sheets are soft. Stab a fork in to test if the pasta is soft. Mine takes about half an hour to cook, but if yours is smaller it might be faster.

Delicious! And pretty cheap and simple!

Serve with some salad or garlic bread. Or both!

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cooking meat and secret veg.  I added a bit of bacon that needed eating.
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My finished lasagne
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baby portion, with homemade garlic toast

I think my version looks nicer and was definitely tastier and cheaper!

Let me know if you have experienced any of these kids ready meals, as we haven’t tried them all, but this one put me off them altogether.

More recipes coming soon xx

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