Cooking for other people’s children

Useful tips for when you need to feed your kids and their friends.

1. Ask ahead.
Check if a child has a food sensitivity, or if there are any no-go dishes. Also, check what time the child usually eats – a piece of fruit after school should keep them going until a later teatime if needed.

2. Flag up what you’re going to make.
Once you have decided what you’re serving up for tea, drop the menu into conversation (on the walk home from school, perhaps), so your visitor doesn’t feel ambushed!

3. Be a little flexible.
Put a cup of carrot sticks or a plate of garlic bread out on the table alongside your main meal. You don’t want children to starve if they panic that a dish tastes alien to them, and a side dish gives them a fall-back.

Savvy tip
Make a big batch of tomato sauce and freeze it in one-person portions so you can serve pasta with pesto or tomato sauce for each child, if you feel the need to offer choice.

Pass it on – 3 easy ‘help yourself’ ideas
Getting children to spoon out their own portions allows for different tastes and appetites.

Baked potatoes. Put out small bowls of grated cheese, baked beans, tuna and sweetcorn mayo, etc on the table so kids can make up their own meal.

Tortilla wraps. Offer a few ‘exciting’ Tex-Mex sides, and also serve strips of ham, a batch of egg mayonnaise etc so the kids can make their own Mexican tea or just opt for a rolled-up ‘sandwich’ if they are not feeling adventurous.

Toasties with beans. Grill one side of each slice of bread then give each child the chance to select what they want on top – strips of cheese (placed in criss-cross patterns for effect) to toast, or slices of tomato, Marmite, cucumber etc once both sides are toasted. Give them cookie cutters to shape their own toasties.