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With our lives becoming busier and busier, it’s hard to find the time to get the whole family round a table. So the last thing you want is more time apart while someone’s stuck cooking in the kitchen – whoever the go-to chef happens to be.
Instead of opting for complex and lengthy dishes, put the focus back on the family with these three simple menu ideas. They’re just as delicious, but the extra moments you have together will make the whole experience much more satisfying.
1. A Mexican menu
Much of this can be made in advance, and the flavours will develop the longer you leave it. This means you can spend longer with your nearest and dearest, and still serve a tasty meal.
For starters, go for classic guacamole and salsa with shop bought tortilla chips. Mix tomatoes, red onion, coriander and chilli to make salsa, and put it in the fridge until you need it. Just before serving, finish it with olive oil and a squeeze of lime.
Guacamole needs to be made just before your guests arrive, otherwise it will turn an unappetising brown. Add red onion, tomato, garlic and lime to chopped avocado, and mix thoroughly.
Tacos make a fun main dish and kids love putting them together, so it’s less work for the chef – bonus! Fry some mince with onion, peppers, garlic, chilli, cumin and paprika – you can do this the day before, and reheat on the day. Then serve up with taco shells, iceberg lettuce, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
Churros are a classic Mexican dessert, but can be time consuming to make, so stock up on doughnuts for the family to dip into chocolate sauce. Make this by gently warming chocolate until melted and mixing it with double cream.
2. A Middle Eastern menu
Flatbreads and dips make a fuss-free starter that people can help themselves to over drinks. The dips can be made in advance too (or bought ready-made!).
Whizz chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and cumin in a food processer to make hummus. Roast aubergines and mix with garlic, tahini, cumin and chilli for baba ganoush. For tzatziki, add chopped cucumber to yoghurt along with mint and salt.
Slow-roast lamb is a main course that you can shove in the oven and forget about until you’re ready to eat. Rub it with ras-el-hanout before it goes in for some Middle Eastern flavour. Serve with couscous, roasted peppers and salad, all of which can be made in advance.
For dessert, slice figs, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and put in the oven as you serve the main course. Remove after 15-20 minutes, and allow them to cool before dishing up with honey and ice cream.
3. An Italian menu
Put out some antipasti to nibble on with drinks – think olives, artichokes and charcuterie. There’s no cooking involved, so all you need to do is plate it up.
For a fun main, get the kids involved in making their own pizzas. Chop up a choice of toppings in advance and let them pile their choices onto bases (shop-bought or made the night before) before putting them in the oven. They can take orders for the grown-ups too.
Make tiramisu for pudding the night before by dipping sponge fingers in coffee and layering with a mix of whipped cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract. Allow to chill overnight, then dust with cocoa powder before serving. Delicious.
As well as making the menus easy, you can cut down on your cleaning time too by using the new Flash Ultra Power Fresh, which makes managing the mess an absolute doddle. It packs a powerful punch, removing up to 100% of dirt, grease and grime from almost any hard surface in your home. Done!
What’s your favourite family lunch menu? Let us know in the comments below.