Quick meal ideas for the busy mum

I’m a huge fan of quick, satisfying and healthy meals that leave me incredibly happy to have had them. My joy of food is something I discovered later in life having been a picky eater growing up. So I’m always keen to discover new cuisines and tantalising ingredients that leave me feeling like life is a celebration in it’s entirety. The trouble is, when I became a mother I simply had no time left for much else outside of tending to my son, or so it feels. Peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches rule the day; what a pity.

As we go into the new year I’ve thought about the little things that bring me joy, help me feel centred, and keep me performing at my best. Food is a big part of that. So I’ve resolved to revisit some of my favourite quick recipes that are going to come in handy for my new life as a busy mum, and also discover new ones along the way. As I’m in the company of parents who are also possibly equally harassed off their feet most times, I thought I’d share some of these quick meals now and again.

We certainly won’t be compromising taste; mealtimes are a celebration. So best not to torture ourselves, even if that celebration may have to be curtailed from an hour long into a twenty minute affair.

For our first instalment I have chosen three of my favourite egg-based dishes that are as effortless as they are delicious. I hope you’ll find them just as lovely. All of them should take less than 10 minutes to prepare; you get to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or something a little stronger if you fancy, while they cook away in the oven.

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1. Oven-baked egg tart

I do adore this one for its versatility. You can make it for breakfast, lunch or for a light dinner. All you need is however many eggs are enough to feed your brood (I usually go for six to make a whole tart), about 125ml of cream, sliced vegetables of your choice (I go for mushrooms, courgettes, spinach, tomatoes and asparagus). And finally a little bit of salt and pepper to season.

Mix all together before pouring into a pie dish to bake for about 25/30 minutes at 180 degrees centigrades. Pre-heating the oven while you do the prep-work makes for a perfect bake, but you may sometimes find you need to add a little more time until the centre of the tart is firmly cooked, especially if you’ve densely packed your vegetables in.

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2. Baked eggs in tomato sauce

A popular dish in quite a lot of cultures, and often referred to as shakshuka in Northwest Africa and the Middle East. There’s quite a lot of versatility in this dish, much like the first one. You can put in whatever you fancy.

For a quick and effortless version I normally use sliced bell peppers, onions and tomatoes as the base. Garlic gives a robust flavour if you can afford to have it in - just bear in mind your social commitments for the day. I usually cook that for a few minutes on the stove top to get the best out of the tomato sauce before transferring to a skillet, and adding an egg or two per person. I bake mine for 10 minute at 180 degrees centigrades, often less than that to get runny eggs.

This dish is pure bliss, and you can make of it what you want. I serve mine with crusty bread and avocado.

Nigella has a spicy version that I love as well. Eggs in purgatory, as she’s called it!

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3. Egg muffins

Much like the tart, this requires you to mix in your eggs with your choice of vegetables. A little grated cheese would not go amiss - I would substitute the cheese for the cream here, and dice the vegetables to keep them from getting too chunky. I mix all the ingredients, and a little bit of salt and pepper to taste, before dividing into a greased muffin tin. Twenty to thirty minutes in the oven at 180 degrees centigrades usually does the trick.

This makes for a lovely packed lunch as well.

I quite like how healthy these are, without even having to obsess over it. I find that I’m a lot easier to be around if I’m taking care of myself, and generally feel on top form. Healthy eating is a big part of that for me. But since having a baby that’s so much harder to do when a quick bite is about all I can manage. So I do hope these quick recipes that I loved so much before now will do me a world of good as a busy mother. I hope you’ll find the same.

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