Schools Out! Feed a swarm of hungry kids on a shoestring

On today’s blog, we take a small step sideways from our usual content around gourmet-catered events in the Gold Coast area and our famous Friday dinners to extend a helping hand as the school holiday’s approach.

While the school holidays may introduce a welcome lull in the lunch box and homework routines, they can also introduce some unique challenges for Mum’s, Dad’s and caregivers who can, without warning, find themselves needing to feed large numbers of hungry kids who’ve congregated en masse in their homes following school holiday activities or pre and post sporting events.

Thankfully a little planning and creativity can go a long way to solving this problem.  Here I’m going to share some of my top tips for feeding scrumptious morsels the masses – all on a shoestring!

Planning and Organising:

If your house is where everyone seems to gather during the holidays like my house –  congratulations!  Kids tend to hang out where they feel welcome, relaxed and have fun. And whilst it might have some overwhelming moments, like most things ‘kids’, it’s a phase and it won’t last forever.   And at least if the kids are all at your house, you’ll know what everyone’s up to, rather than wondering……..

Planning ahead for these occurrences can make a big difference to how well the school holidays run and how enjoyable they are for everyone, you included!  Begin with a well-planned shopping list, full of staple ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways.

Here are some of my favourite go-to’s when it’s all-hands-on-deck in the house.


A Classic Gourmet Toastie:

A long-standing favourite, hungry kids love a tasty toastie!  They’re quick to make and relatively simple, so all ages can get involved, (with a little supervision of course).   A warm filler on a cold winter’s day, toasties are a great way to use up bread that’s past its best for fresh sandwiches and one or two loaves in the freezer plus a big bag of grated cheese in the fridge means you’re ready to feed not only your own kids, but to cater for larger numbers too.  Use a sandwich maker or melt a little butter in a frying pan to make a sandwich.  Alternatively, butter both sides of the bread and place under a hot grill.  And don’t forget, whatever your culinary preferences, the tricks to a great toastie are a luscious, flavour-filled filling and some thickly sliced bread.

EGG-CELLENT CHEESE

Beat one egg with a fork, add a handful of tasty cheese and a twist of salt and pepper.  The egg and cheese provide a good protein base, which is filling for hungry tummies, and mixing these two ingredients makes the end result super gooey.  Work on 1 egg and 1 generous handful of cheese per toastie.

TUNA-RIFIC TOASTIES

Make these as simple or as complicated as you like.  For example, combine tinned tuna, a good egg mayo and cheese for a standard option.

THE SPAG BOL SPECIAL

Combine leftover spag bol sauce with shredded cheese.  This is my absolute favourite!


Mighty Mince to the Rescue:

Don’t overlook this gem because it’s a cheaper cut of meat. Tweak it several ways with herbs to serve a variety of delicious offerings. Here are a couple of my school holiday favourites:

BUN-FREE BURGERS

Make up your own the hamburger patties by combining mince with an egg, adding a dash of salt and pepper, some BBQ & worcestershire sauce and then press into patties. Fry up some bacon, drop on some cheese and add a hearty squirt of tomato sauce. Place in between iceberg lettuce cups and serve.  You can also add an egg for those who want one. Everyone loves using the BBQ, so this is a great option for lunch on a sunny day, or after Saturday sport before the temperature drops too much.

MAGIC MEXICALI

How we love Taco Tuesday in our house! Nachos, tacos or burritos are great options to combine with mince. Chop an onion, fry the mince and add some family favourite spices, (I like to add cumin – for a delicious kick)! Shred some iceberg lettuce, chop up some tomatoes, add in corn kernels, roughly break up some cilantro/coriander and chop up some avocado with lemon juice. Serve with some sour cream and grated cheese on the side. It’s a winner every time and a great way to gather friends together.


Binge on Baking:

Use an idle morning at home to bring everyone together to try out recipes in the kitchen. Baking is a great activity if you’re looking to encourage your kids to try new foods. Plus it’s an opportunity to get everyone away from screens in the wet weather. Kids are often keen to make their personal favourites or to find a recipe for an item that caught their eye in a friend’s lunch box during term time. If you’re preparing for the holidays, make and freeze some batches yourself ahead of time. My staples in the ‘make ahead and freeze/store’ category include:

SAUSAGE ROLLS

These little gems are always a favourite in my house!  Place 500g pork and veal mince into a bowl, add one egg, ½ grated zucchini and ½ grated carrot plus salt and pepper.  Mix and place spoonfuls into pieces of puff pastry, cut into bite-sized rolls.   Top with egg wash and freeze between baking paper. Cook from frozen for about 20-25 mins at 200 degrees till crispy and puffed.

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HOMEMADE BANANA BREAD

Banana’s are usually readily available and very affordable. Slice the loaf and freeze, or alternatively store in the fridge. Serve toasted with a scoop of fresh butter on top. Delicious!

APRICOT & CINNAMON MUFFINS

Using apricots tinned in juice not syrup achieves 3 things:

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.  Delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Wet Mix:

Dry Mix:

Method:

Optional Topping:

Place the mixture in the prepared pans & bake for approx. 20-25 mins. until cooked.

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So there you have it.  A few gems from my book of favourites to get you through the school holidays.   Remember to stock up on staple items like bread, cheese, eggs, mince and veggies then go with the flow.  You never know, come the end of the school holidays you may be the new neighbourhood gourmet!

Happy holidays!