Family Dinner Winners

Family Dinner Winners

Hello! I’m probably somewhere soggy in a tent right now, so here’s the second guest post of the week.  It’s from the Lovely Jodie who blogs over at Matched Betting Mum. I’ve had a dabble myself but stopped after that. Here she is sharing her frugal family winning dinner recipes with us. Thank you Jodie!

Anyone who follows my monthly matched betting diaries will know I don’t have a lot of spare time. Between blogging, matched betting and running around after my two young children, Lily & Olly, I’m often frazzled and lacking inspiration for some quick and easy family dinner ideas. I hate cooking separate meals for us and the children. This led me to develop some core staple dinner options for those days when I’m stuck and feeling a little clueless.

These are the top five recipes I turn to on those days. I know the kids will eat them and they’ll satisfy my husband’s bottomless stomach. The bonus is that they’re all cheap and can be made in batches, so there’s always something in the freezer too!


Spaghetti Bolognese (serves 4-6)

OK, so we’ve all probably got a family recipe with our own take on this classic family staple. I blatantly stole this recipe from my first ever boyfriend’s family though. Trying this was a taste revelation! I’ve been making this since I went to university 20 years ago and I still love it! It’s also very easy to add lots of vegetables to this dish, without the children knowing.


  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Selection of vegetables (the following are core ingredients but I’ll often add whatever we have in the house, including spinach, green beans and butternut squash), all chopped into small pieces
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 pepper
    • 4 chestnut or button mushrooms
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • ½ glass red wine (optional)
  • Splash tobasco sauce
  • Splash Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to season


  • Fry off the onion, garlic and tomato puree in olive oil. Add the mince and brown on a medium heat.
  • Add the chopped vegetables, chopped tomatoes and mix.
  • Add the herbs.
  • Crumble in the stock cube. Add the red wine, tobasco and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Simmer over a low heat.
  • If you then put the pasta on, this will be ready to eat as soon as the pasta is ready 10 minutes later (assuming you’re using dried pasta). For a more intense flavour, leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Or, for a real indulgence, this tastes great if you pop it in the oven (covered) for 30-45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Meatball Pasta Bake (serves 4-6)

This is a new addition to my repertoire in the last year or so. It was an attempt to involve Lily in cooking other than making fairy cakes. She’s keen to get involved although she’s too young to cut anything and thinks getting her hands stuck in to make the meatballs is too disgusting. So it normally involves her standing on a stool getting in my way instead. But it’s her favourite meal now so I’ll forgive her that.

Note that you can choose to either make the meatballs yourself or use shop bought ones depending how much time you have. I do both and it doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the flavour!


  • Meatballs
    • 350g minced beef
    • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
    • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs
  • Other Ingredients
    • Use the same ingredients as for spaghetti bolognese above, with the exception of the minced beef.
    • 250g dried tubular pasta
    • 125g mozzarella ball, drained


  • If you choose to make the meatballs, place all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Combine the mixture with your hands and roll into 24 small balls.
  • Prepare the sauce. Finely chop all of the vegetables.
  • Fry off the onion, garlic and tomato puree. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Simmer over a medium heat.
  • Heat some oil in a large frying pan and lightly brown the meatballs in batches. Once the meatballs have browned, add them to the tomato sauce.
  • Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta and stir into the meatball mix.
  • Transfer to an oven proof dish.
  • Tear the mozzarella over the top and cook under a preheated hot grill for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Lamb Korma (serves 4)

I relied heavily on Annabel Karmel’s recipes when I weaned both my children. However, I quickly realised they needed a little adaptation to save me the hassle of making separate meals for us all. So I played around with this to make this winning dish we all love. We prefer using lamb but chicken also works well.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 100g korma paste
  • 500g lamb leg steaks, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk
  • Selection of vegetables. I always add any vegetables I have in the house, chopped into small pieces. I will always use the following:
    • 1 carrot
    • 1 pepper
    • 4 button/chestnut mushrooms
  • 12 dried apricots, halved
  • Small handful cashew nuts, chopped into small pieces
  • Small handful raisins
  • Salt and pepper to season


  • Fry off the onion, garlic and ginger until they are soft, for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the korma paste, stir well and cook at a high heat for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add the meat, turn the heat down to medium and stir until browned.
  • Add the vegetables and stir for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  • Simmer over a low heat for a further 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat some rice and serve.

Chicken & chorizo risotto (serves 4)

We’re big fans of many different varieties of risotto in this household. But this is our favourite take on it. You need a bit of time to dedicate to this, but it’s ready within 30 minutes so doesn’t take too much of your time up in the grand scheme of things.


  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 medium chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 300g Arborio risotto rice
  • 175ml white wine
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 300g spinach leaves
  • 8 button/chestnut mushrooms
  • 100g chorizo, chopped into small pieces (I use chorizo ring)
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 75g grated parmesan cheese
  • Knob of butter


  • Fry off the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil until softened. Add the chicken and cook for five minutes at a medium heat.
  • Add the Aborio rice to the pan and stir continuously for one minute, ensuring all of the rice is coated in the pan’s juices.
  • Add the white wine and continue to stir for another minute or two until the wine has been soaked up. Then reduce the heat to a low temperature.
  • Start to add the chicken stock, a ladel at a time, mixing well. Bring to a simmer as the liquid is absorbed by the rice. As the liquid is soaked up, continue adding more stock, stirring regularly.
  • When you have added about a third of the stock, add the mushrooms and chorizo to the pan.
  • Continue to add the stock gradually, stirring well throughout. Continue this process for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is soft. Add some water to the pan if more liquid is needed to cook the rice.
  • Add the spinach, lemon juice, lemon zest, seasoning and parmesan. Mix well for three minutes, until the spinach wilts.
  • Stir in the butter and then serve.

Easy Peasy Fish Pie (serves 4)

I love this recipe because it’s so quick and easy. It’s also a really tasty way of introducing a variety of seafood to children. I often mix up the different types of fish I add to this dish. For example, it also works well with tuna or other types of white fish.


  • 600g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 600g fish pie mix, chopped with bones removed
  • 120g prawns (optional)
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 100g crème fraiche
  • 150g peas
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • 20g cheddar cheese, grated


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  • Boil the potatoes until soft.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened.
  • Add the fish and heat until just cooked through.
  • Add the cream cheese, crème fraiche and herbs.
  • Stir well to create a creamy sauce. Then add the prawns, peas and sweetcorn.
  • Heat the mixture through, then add seasoning.
  • If the mixture is too thick, add some milk to thin it out a little.
  • Place the mixture in an oven proof dish.
  • Drain and mash the potatoes, and use this to top the fish mixture.
  • Use a fork to add texture to the potato topping. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  • Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

I hope you find some inspiration from these family receipe ideas. If you have any questions you can find me over at the blog or at the usual social channels, including Facebook and Twitter. I’d love to hear how you got on with them.

Thanks Jodie! Great family favourites, they’re all part of our staples too.




Join our Facebook Group

Img 20160424 wa0003

Join the Free, friendly and supportive non-judgemental Facebook group for pregnancy and parenting. You will also be subscribed to our newsletter.

Powered by ConvertKit
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosure policy

1 Comment

  1. August 4, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    So many great dishes, these are brilliant. I will pin and get a few of these made. Thanks for sharing. x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.