I thought it might be helpful to share some of the essentials tools and ingredients that are a constant in the Feeding Boys kitchen:
Kenwood K-Mix – takes the arm-ache out of baking and keeps my hands free for wrestling unruly toddlers. It’s huge but i’ll forgive it because it’s such a beauty
Stick blender – it’s a no-brainer for weaning, but also fab for soups or making chunky vegetable sauces with things like mushrooms and courgettes in more appealing to fusspots
Juicer – a great activity with little children plus the health levels are ridiculously high!
Ice cream maker – just a little cheapy one with a bowl that must be kept in the freezer, but so great to get the kids involved with making ice cream, and limitless flavour potential.
Microwave saucepan – a really small one from Lakeland, but it’s great for cooking up frozen peas or melting chocolate in and then you just sling it in the dishwasher.
Mermaid baking sheets – great quality but still affordable, they’re easy to clean and the surface doesn’t flake off like the cheapy ones.
AEG coffee machine – without this nothing would get done.
Zip lock bags – great for storing leftovers or a few handfuls of homemade popcorn to sneak into the cinema
Corn flakes – I’m hardly every organised enough to make my own breadcrumbs so I usually reach for a handful of these instead. They make great coatings for home-made chicken goujons, mix them with pesto for a herby crust for a fillet of salmon, or mix them with grated cheese to top off a pasta bake.
Fresh custard – shop bought of course, this gem becomes instant home-made ice cream flavoured with whatever takes your fancy – use a cheap ice cream maker or lolly moulds.
Leeks – milder than onion but still full of flavour that makes soups and stews so delicious and paired with cheese in a quiche is just divine.
Lemon – always in my fridge for squeezing over fish, stuffing into chickens, making dressings and the zest is wonderful for creamy pasta sauces and lively baking.
Munchy seeds – a new obsession, these healthy seeds have a dark salty soy type flavouring that can really perk up a salad or bowl of soup.
Soy sauce – naturally great for stir fries, but also brilliant for marinating steak plus I always splash a bit into my home made tomato sauces.
Sweet chilli sauce – great for giving chicken and sausages and sweet and sticky glaze when roasted in the oven in a generous coating
Honey – a great alternative to sugar, I squeeze over my kids’ cereal in the morning, stir it into yoghurt, use it in baking, for salad dressings, marinades and also for making hot lemony drinks when we’re full of colds.
Ready-made pastry – I don’t have a food processor and love a good shortcut, so ready made, ready rolled puff and shortcrust pastry are both brilliant bypasses to yummy pies, pasties and tarts. Filo is also genius stuff and much healthier too.
Whole grain mustard – transforms a creamy cheese sauce into something rather special
Microwave rice pouches – lazy but brilliant and the kids love the Tilda flavoured ones. One packet stirred into a stir fry feeds four of us.
Basics grated mozzarella – perfect for topping our home made pizzas
Crusty bread mix – one of these packets makes three pizza bases – i’ve not bought a ready-made pizza since I discovered this!
Tins of chopped tomatoes – most of our meals are born out of one of these… pizza sauce, pasta sauce, stews, soups…
Black bananas – don’t chuck ‘em out… make them into yummy cakes for packed lunches
Knorr gel stock pots – they are brilliant and I use them for all my sauces, soups and risottos
Butternut squash – soup, roasted veg, risotto – a superhero vegetable if you ask me
Sunblush tomoatoes – I use the tomatoes for lip smacking pizza toppings, and keep the oil as it’s infused with the tomatoes and herbs so is delicious to use in your cooking
Dried herbs – As much as I love fresh herbs, I also use a lot of dried – especially sage, thyme and oregano – scattered into sauces or over roasted vegetables they always add a good hit of extra flavour.