Agh!…What to cook for dinner tonight?

How about a quick and easy, but oh so very delicious Thai Beef Salad?

The question of ‘what to cook for dinner‘ is one that many mothers agonise over every day. This is especially true for working mums – I know because I am one of them, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

I only have one son still living at home now, so cooking weeknight dinners is not as big a deal as it used to be when my 3 boys were young and I was working full-time.

I was in my early 20’s and still adjusting to married life, when my first son came into this world. By 29, I was blessed with 2 more boys and that’s when the fun started!

That was over 25 years ago when Google was still just an idea is someone’s head and the only way to find recipes or information about food nutrition  was by reading a book (you know – those things made from words written on pieces of paper that are bound together – haha).

While access to recipes and information is much easier now, most working mothers still agonise over what to cook for dinner, so I thought I’d share some tips on how I managed to get a home-cooked meal on the table for my husband and 3 boys within 40 minutes of coming home from work.

  1. Learn how to cook 8 – 10 dishes really well so that you can whip them up quickly.
  2. Always have the pantry stocked with the non-perishable ingredients you need to make the 8-10 dishes.
  3. Who doesn’t love spaghetti bolognese right? So make bulk quantities of bolognese sauce and freeze it in small batches to have it handy for a quick weeknight meal (use it within 6 months)
  4. Make vegetable or chicken stock in bulk and freeze it in 1 litre containers. Doing this will halve the time you need to make soup or risotto.
  5. Crumb some chicken breast fillets and freeze them in layers separated with baking paper in advance. Pull out the number of pieces you need in the morning and put them in the fridge to thaw while you are at work.
  6. Always have a batch of homemade tomato & basil sauce  in the freezer to heat up and add as a topping with cheese to chicken schnitzel. You can also use it to create a healthy sauce to serve on pasta or rice by adding some finely chopped vegetables that you simmer until soft.
  7. Include a salad with dinner – they are easy to make, nutritious and filling. What about this Quick Thai Beef Salad?

IMG_0980.jpgQuick Thai Beef Salad

What you need

  • 100g dried rice vermicelli noodles
  • 600g beef rump rump steak or scotch fillet – fat trimmed
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers – sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 carrot – peeled and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes – chopped into wedges
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ¾ cup fresh Thai mint – washed and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves – washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions (shallots) – finely sliced
  • 1 long red chilli – finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted peanuts – chopped

For the sauce

  • 60ml fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 fresh lemongrass – bruised and finely chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – very finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons palm sugar (finely chopped) or brown sugar

What to do

Follow the instructions in the packet to prepare the noodles.

Brush a little oil on both sides of the steak and place in a hot griddle pan, cook 4 minutes on each side for medium or to your liking. Transfer to a plate to rest.

Combine the noodles, cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, mint, coriander, bean sprouts and spring onion.

Slice the steak into strips and add to the vegetables – use your (clean) hands to mix through

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and sugar – stir well to combine the ingredients.IMG_0964Just before serving, pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and gently miix through. Sprinkle the chopped chilli and peanuts over the top and serve with warm Roti Bread for a delicious healthy meal.