Get little ones involved in the kitchen with these easy recipe ideas and clever tips from food writer Uyen Luu, from quick lunches to family suppers
Make the midday meal fun and educational by displaying a selection of colourful fruit and veg on different shaped breads and toasts on a board. Mix up the textures with crunchy and soft ingredients, and talk to children about the different shapes, sizes and colours, and count the toppings, as they help prepare (and eat) the food.
Here are some ideas for toppings you could combine:
Fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, apples, kiwi and cucumber
Blanched asparagus and peas
Halved cherry tomatoes
Spreads such as houmous, taramasalata, tzatziki and guacamole (find them in our deli section)
Whipped cream cheese
Brown bread, sliced into different shapes
These pinwheels are a super-easy recipe and you can mix up the fillings however you like. This version uses mature cheddar, but you could swap for parmesan or mozzarella, or leave out the cheese and spread with pesto and fried bacon. Alongside, serve some fresh veg and your favourite treats from the M&S deli, such as charcuterie and mozzarella, so kids can enjoy trying different flavours and textures.
1 pack all-butter puff pastry
½ tub cream cheese
A small handful Cornish mature cheddar, grated
1 spring onion, sliced
1 tub chargrilled artichokes
1 tub mozzarella and sundried tomatoes
1 egg, beaten
Steamed broccoli and green beans, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 3.
Keeping the paper wrapper on the puff pastry roll, open it up and lay flat on the kitchen surface. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the pastry, then sprinkle over the grated cheddar and spring onion, and half the artichokes and half the sundried tomatoes and mozzarella.
Turn the pastry so that it is facing lengthways nearest to you. Using the paper underneath, fold an inch over and roll, peeling off the paper as you go, tightly and firmly until you reach the end. Wrap the entire roll up using the same paper and place into the freezer for 10 minutes – this makes it much easier to slice.
Remove the roll from the freezer and slice into 10 pieces. Arrange in an ovenproof dish and brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden, then serve with steamed broccoli and green beans, the leftover artichokes, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes, and your favourite charcuterie from the deli.
Recreate the feeling of a sunny afternoon by the seaside with this healthy take on fish and chips. Kids can help by putting the breadcrumbs on the fish, and older children can get involved with slicing and chopping.
4 fillets of lemon sole, sea bass or sea bream
4 tbsp plain flour or cornflour
3–4 tbsp breadcrumbs (make with leftover bread, or buy ready-made)
2 bunches of spring onions, sliced
Vegetable oil, for frying
1.5kg Maris Piper potatoes, sliced into chunky wedges and parboiled
8 sprigs thyme
Lemon, peas, fresh veg and parsley, to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 4. Toss the potatoes in a little vegetable oil and place in an ovenproof dish, then bake for 30–40 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile, place four large dinner plates on the kitchen surface. Add flour to one, beaten egg to the next, breadcrumbs, spring onions and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the third. Dust each fish fillet with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs on each side.
Place on an oiled baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
Serve with the chunky wedges, plus peas and steamed vegetables, lemon wedges, fresh parsley and your favourite sauces.
Words and images: Uyen Luu Food editor: Heather Taylor