They say ‘it’s like dinnertime at the zoo’ for good reason. I imagine there are few of us who aren’t grappling with requests for ‘the green spoon… no, NOT that green spoon’ around 6.12pm and generally fielding food in the manner of teetering hat stand.
That bit I don’t mind – that’s the fun bit, that’s the zoo. The bit I can’t manage with any degree of joy is the preparation of the nosebag. (Often to a tantrumming, mewling deadline.) The peeling, boiling and mashing – all entwined with a fear of ‘will they eat it; do they care if I get this little nobbly bit off the potato?’ Then you realise it’s too quiet – you gallop into the urchin’s realm only to realise she’s licking the iPad and the cat’s tail is sheathed in a sock.
I love to cook but I hate cooking to a kid deadline. Cue one of the best parental ideas I’ve come across to date – Piccolo Plates. Run by Els and Bels, two of the loveliest girls you’d hope to meet, this is the ultimate kiddie meals on wheels. This is your chance to walk in the door, whack a home-prepared, guaranteed-to-eat-it meal in the oven while you have time for cuddles/ iPad-licking prevention/ cat protection.
We’re talking fish pie, 7 veggie pasta bake, cod and salmon goujons, chicken and pesto nuggets to name a few – all prepared sans bad stuff and packed with more veg than you could swing a prize marrow at. They’re sneaky – the sauces are mainly pureed vegetables, while their aesthetic (the goujons went down a treat) is naughty enough to pull the wool over the urchin’s eyes.
I need that level of craftiness as I find myself hollering, ‘darling, I’ll only give you Ketchup if you eat ALL those chips’. Sure, there’s always room for a McCain’s mini pizza (winces, but accepts defeat once more) but the guilt allayed by ordering from these guys twice a week was worth every penny. For £5 a dish (one serves two kids; or one kid for two nights, with FREE delivery across London), my fears of Mae turning into an alphabet-shaped oven chip have been allayed.
But, more importantly I had more time to immerse myself in the zoo instead of wondering how to feed it for two nights of the week. And, of course, my hands (and mind) were freed up to ensure the correct green spoon was in place. A parental win all around.
Go to piccoloplates.com to place your order and to find out more.
Photo credit: Miles Aldridge