What was your favourite meal as a child? And do you think this fondness is passed down to the next generation?
I can remember meals being on something of a cycle when I was growing up. There would most certainly be lemon sole on a Tuesday because that was the day the fish van came.
On Thursdays it was mince and tatties and on a Friday my parents had a homemade curry – which meant picky me got fish fingers!
Since launching the mealtime mission series, I have been struck by how children also seem to prefer simpler foods like bangers and mash or beans on toast.
And yet, I don’t know why – because they haven’t been on this earth for very long.
A recent survey conducted by Wren Kitchens rounded up the UK’s most nostalgic meals. Dishes such as egg and chips, cheese on toast and shepherd’s pie topped the list.
These were closely followed by some of my kids’ mealtime favourites such as fish fingers and chips, bangers and mash and beans on toast.
It’s nice to think these foods somehow conjure up happy memories of carefree childhood days – whether it’s dinner at the grandparents’, a meal at a friend’s house or a birthday party.
But that got me wondering why these basic, hearty dishes are always so popular with kids.
I can understand why they’re so popular with adults – they’re pretty quick to throw together and the children will actually EAT them. That’s win-win, in my book.
Take a look at any children’s menu at a restaurant and you’ll see similar dishes listed there. Are they in some way programmed to like this stuff – or do we programme them?
The great ‘beige’ food debate
When I was weaning my children on to solids, I used to read mummy blogs for tips. The original (and, arguably, best) being The Unmumsy Mum aka Sarah Turner from Exeter.
Sarah would often mention “beige foods”. And by that she meant things like fish fingers, oven chips and chicken nuggets (also lovingly referred to as “freezer tapas”).
In the world of mummy blogs there can sometimes be a stigma attached to serving your family these beige freezer foods as opposed to lovingly-prepared, wholesome meals bursting with goodness.
They’re seen as the easy option – but sometimes the feast you’ve laboured over isn’t always what they fancy.
Sometimes you just need to get some food into their bellies – and if it’s fish fingers and chips, then so be it.
At home, we will have these meals from time-to-time and I try to add some veg on to their plate (alongside the massive blob of ketchup) or at least implore them to eat some fruit afterwards for dessert.
It can be frustrating when the beautiful, freshly cooked meals don’t go down too well. Yet give them a plate of beans and they will declare it “the best meal ever!”.
I’m never sure whether to take such a declaration as a compliment or an insult. The jury’s still out on that one.
What do you think?
Would like to share your tricky mealtime tales or is there a meal you remember fondly?
Are there other topics you’d like us to cover in our Mealtime Mission series?
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Triple cheese on toast
Cheese on toast is the ultimate snack for many people. Give this childhood favourite an upgrade with this recipe courtesy of Wren Kitchens.
- 4 slices of sourdough bread
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 100g grated cheese (e.g. a mix of cheddar, gruyere, and Parmesan)
- Handful of chives, chopped
- Place the slices of bread under a warm gill for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast.
- Take them out and spread on your mayonnaise then mustard and top with your cheese mixture.
- Place back under the grill for around 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Garnish with chives and serve.