Sunday 19 May 2013

School Night Dinners Series - Recipe 1 - Very Vegie Udon Noodles

Nothing prepared me for the fact that having Bethany at school 5 days each week has actually made me busier ... crazy busy, actually.  I'm loving the extra one-on-one time with Hannah, and am totally in awe while watching Bethany learn so many new things, but man life is B.U.S.Y.  And the busiest, craziest, hair-pulling-out-iest time of day? ... Yep, those jam-packed 3 hours between school pick-up and kiddy bedtime.  I know I'm not alone when I say that fitting in afternoon tea, a short play, preparing dinner, bath-time, eating dinner, catching up on each other's day, cleaning up after dinner, sight-words, home-readers, washing lunchboxes, tidying up toys, teeth-brushing, bedtime stories and finally tucking those munchkins into bed is all pretty tough to fit into those 3 hours.  Especially when a certain 5 year old is totally exhausted, and it can be like dragging around a bag of rocks to get her to do anything.  And don't even get me started on the mad rush around on the 1 afternoon each week when Bethany does ballet after school.  OH MY GOODNESS!

Anyway, we've been working hard to try to to take the stress out of preparing dinner, and to make sure that even when we have literally no time, we can still make a nutritious meal that will appeal to all 4 of us.  I thought I'd share our top super-quick school night meal ideas.  Some are super quick to make, some take some prepping time, but the prepping can be done before-hand to save time during the crazy-3 hours, and others are great to pre-make and freeze for those night you really need a thaw-heat-and-eat dinner.

I had originally planned to do just 1 post with 5 recipes included in it, but after working on it a bit, I realised that a post with 5 recipes would be GIGANTIC!!  So, I decided to so a little mini-series.  Today I'll share the first of these recipes, and the others will follow over the next few weeks ...

So, Recipe No 1 ...

Very Vegie Udon Noodles: Time to cook (including preparation) about 15-20 minutes.

Ingredients (to serve 2 adults and 2 kiddos):
- 300g lean chicken, turkey or beef (or even substitute for tofu if you're after a vegetarian option)
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 handful of green beans
- 4 ice-cubes of Pre-made vegie puree (I've talked about how to make this here and here)
- 3 x 200g packets (ie 600g) of udon noodles
- 1 Tbsp Hoi Sin Sauce (available in the Asian Food section of the supermarket)
- 1/2 of a salt-reduced chicken stock-cube (use a beef stock if cooking with beef, or a vegie stock if making a vegetarian dish)
- Water

The how to:
1. Chop your chicken/turkey/beef/tofu into bite-size pieces, and dice the carrot, beans and onion.

2.  Take the noodles out of their packets and place them into a heat-proof bowl, and cover with boiling water, then set aside.

3.  In a wok, large frypan or even a saucepan if that's all you've got handy, fry off the onion and chicken/turkey/beef/tofu over high heat until it starts to brown well.  You can use a teaspoon of oil if you like, or if you're watching the calories I find even just a tablespoon of water works well.

4.  Throw in the chopped vegies, the vegie puree cubes, the half stock-cube and a generous tablespoon of hoi-sin sauce, and give it all a good mix.

5.  Add a cup of water, turn the heat down to medium, and allow to simmer uncovered for about 5-10 minutes, or until the vegies (especially the carrot) have softened.  You might need to top the water up a little as you go along to stop it from drying out and burning, so keep an eye on it, but you do want to have boiled off some of the liquid by the time the vegies are cooked, so don't flood it or you'll end up with runny noodles.

6.  Drain off the noodles, then stir them through the mixture in the wok.

And that's it!!  Super-easy, super quick, super tasty and jam-packed with vegies!  Feel free to substitute the vegies for any others you have on hand.  Peas work well, as do zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as we do, and stay tuned for another 4 recipes to come.


  1. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that it is this easy to make a healthy meal rather than buy a take away. Looking forward to your next recipes! :D

    1. You're absolutely right Linda. Sometimes it's just do tempting to go for the take out on the way home ... So not necessary when you can save time and money and eat so much healthier with option just like this.