Grandma Inspired Weekly Meal Plan
(and some of her tips)
Last week I wrote about how my Mum has had such a huge influence on my cooking. Some of my children’s favourite dishes are ones she taught me to make. Before my kids were born she decided she didn’t want to be called Granny or Nanny, she was definitely going to be called Grandma. So this week, in honour of Grandma I decided to include only meals that are ones that I grew up eating at home. Cheers Mum! (She’s in the far right of the pic above, I’m taking the photo).
My Mum was born in England to Scottish parents and was reared on the borders of Scotland (in between being sent off to boarding school). She wanted to study art after leaving school but the only option allowed was to spend a year in a domestic science college – which didn’t impress her much! However, she learnt a number of culinary skills for which we’ve always been extremely grateful. I think she’d have been a successful chef if she’d taken it up as a profession.
So what’s on the menu this week?
Sticking to the Grandma theme I have picked dishes which are typically what you’d call ‘nursery food’ (or comfort food for grownups). Including pasta, roast, soup with homemade bread and pizza, these are relatively simple to prepare but my Mum always added a few extra secret ingredients to pep them up a little. Today I am going to reveal those secrets to the whole internet!
Here’s my Grandma Inspired Menu:
- Sunday: Roast Chicken
- Monday: Maccy Cheese
- Tuesday: Chicken curry
- Wednesday: Butternut soup
- Thursday: Fish cakes
- Friday: Home made pizza
- Saturday: Spag Bolog
And here are some of her cooking secrets (Don’t tell her I told you!):
- Mum always lays a few rashers of streaky bacon over the top of the chicken before roasting it to help prevent the breast meat from drying out too much and to add extra glaze and crispiness to the skin.
- She adds tinned tuna and chopped hard-boiled eggs to add variety and nutrition to the macaroni cheese. The cheese sauce contains a dash of English mustard to enhance the cheesiness.
- My kids love chicken curry but I was not a fan when we were growing up. My Dad preferred his curry super hot so my Mum tried to find a compromise and tone it down but it was always still too hot for me, I managed a few forkfuls before my tongue was practically numb while my Dad was busy ladling Tabasco sauce onto his. Using chicken pieces on the bone (thighs are easiest) gives the curry a richer flavour. I just remove them (and any skins) and shred the meat before serving.
- Butternut soup is another of my children’s favourites. As a family we emigrated from the UK to South Africa in 1980. Butternut squash is as common as mud there, but tastes a while lot better than mud. A bit of fresh orange juice or curry powder are lovely additions to this soup. The first bread my mum taught me to make was soda bread, which is great as now we live in Ireland and making soda bread is one of the basic knowledge requirements of any Irish Mammy. Making it with buttermilk gives it a lighter texture and lovely flavour.
- Fish cakes are a handy way to stretch a little bit of fish across a large family (I am the oldest of five kids) and also not too ‘fishy tasting’ for kids who protest. If you roll the cakes in flour, egg and breadcrumbs before frying them you get a lovely crispy crust.
- My first introduction to pizza in life was my mum’s home-made pizza. She made in a large rectangular pan and topped it with black olives and anchovies. I have to confess I did NOT like it (sorry Mum), I still don’t like anchovies. In fact I’m not even mad about pizza. However, my kids like it and love to create their own toppings or stuff their crusts with cheese.
- I probably should have gone for shepherds pie here as my Mum grew up on a sheep farm but Spaghetti Bolognese is our family’s traditional meal to eat after a journey so I thought this was appropriate for an end of the week dish. My Mum would cook the sauce in advance and freeze it so that when we arrived at our summer holiday destination, after a whole day’s drive from Johannesburg down to Sedgefield, the sauce would be defrosted and all she needed to do is cook the spaghetti. It’s also handy, if you have a busy Saturday, to make the sauce earlier in the week – it tastes much better after the second cooking. Her ‘bolog’ recipe contains grated carrot and courgette, which have I also adopted (sometimes with the addition of grated black mushrooms too), so veggies are secretly taken care of.
I haven’t included some of the staples in this list (veg and potatoes for Sunday mainly).
- whole chicken
- bacon rashers
- tinned tuna
- macaroni pasta
- chicken thighs
- curry powder
- fish fillets (salmon or hake)
- pizza toppings: tomato paste, mozzarella, tinned pineapple, ham, olives etc
- minced beef
- tinned tomatoes
- carrots and courgette
- spaghetti pasta
Download your free printable meal plan and shopping list here: Meal Plan Checklist
What are your favourite food memories from your childhood?
Who has been the biggest cooking influence in your life?
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