How to stretch a meal to feed more

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

This post is sponsored by La Famiglia

I feel these days I blink and my children have grown.  Sad fact, they are all taller than me now, even the 10 year old!  With these growth spurts we have noticed that all 3 kids are now eating more, especially Mr 12.  I am finding some of the regular meals I make are no longer large enough to satisfy their hungry appetites, so I need to think of creative ways to stretch meals to feed more.

How-to-stretch-a-meal-to-feed-more

These suggestions below could also help:

  • to create left overs
  • if you have extra mouths to feed
  • stretch a meal to fill them up

A side salad

Add salad to the side of any meal, you have not only added extra goodness but you’re adding texture and something fresh. This is a great way for kids to taste different foods.  

recipe: beef and bacon pasta bake and more salad recipes.

beef-and-bacon-pasta-bake-3Garlic Bread

My kids love garlic bread, this would have to be the family favourite for spreading the meal further. There is always a cheer when I say I’ve cooked some garlic bread to have on the side, turns an ordinary dinner into something a little more extraordinary. Particularly if you have one meal on a regular basis, adding some garlic bread on the side changes it up.

The La Famiglia garlic bread has been a favourite of ours for many years.  It is really easy to cook (oven, grill or direct on the BBQ), it doesn’t take too long (6 minutes in the oven) and just enough butter, flavour and bread ratio (ooh so tasty)!!  

La-Famiglia-Garlic-Bread-1

Garlic Bread can be a delicious accompaniment to many of your favourite meals, pizza, quiche, salads, soups, casseroles, pasta, we love it for anything with minced meat like bolognese, meatballs or lasange.

recipevegetable packed spaghetti bolognese

La-Famiglia-Garlic-Bread-2

Extra vegetables

Fill the plate up with extra vegetables.  We usually have cauliflower, broccoli, peas and corn on the side with meat and mash, but lately I’ve been adding carrot and zucchini, serving more vegetables on the plate to help make the meal bigger and fill the kids up.  

recipe: homemade rissoles and meat and 3 veg ideas.

homemade-beef-rissole-recipe-2

You could also add extra vegetables to your traditional lasagne recipe to make it serve more, the kids won’t notice and it still tastes absolutely delicious.  I’ve started adding zucchini and carrots to mine to help make it go further.

La-Famiglia-Garlic-Bread-4

Below I have served lasagna, with salad and garlic bread to stretch out the lasagna hubby can have left overs for lunch.

La-Famiglia-Garlic-Bread-3

Add pasta or rice

Turn a simple savoury mince meal into a bigger meal by adding filler food such as rice, noodles or pasta.  

recipe: beef macaroni 

Easy-Dinner-Beef-Macaroni-3

Find more delicious ideas on the La Famiglia facebook page.

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giveaway

WIN A YEARS SUPPLY OF

LA FAMIGLIA GARLIC BREAD

WIN-A-YEARS-SUPPLY-OF-GARLIC-BREAD

This competition is now closed. Congratulations to Jessie A

HOW TO ENTER

Share in the comments below:
How do you take your family meals from simple to special?

GIVEAWAY TERMS AND CONDITIONS

This giveaway run in accordance with my disclosure policy, please read the terms and conditions below

1. Entries must be made on The Organised Housewife blog, entries in facebook comments are invalid.  2. Entries close 11.59pm AEST Wednesday 28th October 2015.   3. One entry per household, open to Australian residents only.  4. This giveaway is a game of skill. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.  5. One winner will receive a year’s supply of La Famiglia garlic bread (1 x loaf per week for 52 x weeks = $330). The prize will be distributed by way of a supermarket gift voucher 6. Winner will be contacted by email, please ensure you leave your email address.  7. If I have not received a reply from the winner within 7 days the prize will be forfeited and awarded to the entry judged to be the next best.  8.  The Organised Housewife will take no responsibility for any delay, loss or damage to prizes sent to winners.  

This post was coordinated by The Remarkables Group and run in accordance with my disclosure policy.

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103 comments

Juli Szasz October 15, 2015 - 8:41 AM

Usually by adding side dishes in fancy little plates. Its so easy to slice some shallots and put a selection of sauces or sour cream on those cute little Asian style plates and ramekins. Garnish the salad with some parsley, serve mini corn cobs on a platter on the side with a little dish of butter….

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Abby October 27, 2015 - 4:56 PM

Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and drop

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Abby October 27, 2015 - 4:57 PM

Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and drop spoonfuls of mixturinto the po

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Abby October 27, 2015 - 5:00 PM

Some people have such commented some great ideas that I’m going to try! I like to add grated veges to most meals to stretch it out a bit and get my boys to eat more vegetables. If I’m making a stew or slow cooker meal, I love adding dumplings. They are so easy to make, just butter, flour and milk (I add fresh rosemary too) and drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pot for the last

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Mick G October 15, 2015 - 9:29 AM

Little extras such as melted cheese topping, tasty sauces or side salads with additions such as croutons or special vinaigrette

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Julia K October 15, 2015 - 10:10 AM

If I am making a pasta dish – I stretch it to accommodate extra guests by adding an extra cup of pasta. Such a cost effective and easy way to make it go that bit further !
I increase the amount of butter chicken by adding some diced pumpkin and diced potatoes and a cup of frozen peas to the mixture.
Another idea is to serve the meals in the centre of the table – buffet style and let people serve themselves. Everyone will generally take a smallish serve as they can always go back for seconds. My children know that once they have put something on their plate – they are expected to eat it. No more throwing away plates of wasted food. Any leftovers are still on the main serving dishes and can be stored safely.
We also offer dessert each night in our house. It doesn’t have to be fancy – something like tinned peaches and ice cream will help fill those hungry tummies.

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Penny M October 15, 2015 - 11:33 AM

My kids always love a garlic bread side, but salad or extra roast vegies always goes a long way to making a meal a basic affair to a favourite! I love to add extra vegies into mince dishes, such as carrot, zucchini, mushroom chopped up small doesn’t bother the kids, makes it go further and just that bit better for everyone!

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Jennifer B. October 15, 2015 - 11:58 AM

Those TV chefs do it for a reason… To move up to ‘special’, it’s all in the GARNISHES!
Pomegranate seeds over a green salad, dukkhah on poached eggs, segments of blood orange over BBQ meats and croutons in soups. The options are endless!

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CATHY Bowdler October 15, 2015 - 12:24 PM

I usually end up feeding more than I cater for by adding extra vegies or extra salad. With the vegies it’s quick and easy to turn ordinary vegies into a wonderful vegie bake with some cheesy white sauce and a little extra cooking time. I’ll also make a dessert if we have unexpected mouths to feed. I always have dry ingredients in the pantry for a quick and easy caramel or chocolate self saucing pudding and it only takes a few minutes to prepare and 1/2 hour to bake.

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Jo Parks October 15, 2015 - 3:48 PM

I always stretch my meals with Salads, Vegies or Garlic Bread, but my favourite trick is making the amount of rice I serve look double in size by combining Rice with cauliflower. I blitz my cauliflower to the same size as my rice and combine to serve. Sometimes I just use the “Cauliflower Rice” by itself, cook with coconut oil and it makes a delicious Fried Rice.

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Di October 15, 2015 - 4:21 PM

Presentation. Arranging things nicely on the plate, just putting in that bit of extra effort to make the meal look as good as it tastes, always turns my family meals from simple to special (well at least that’s what hubby tells me). And it really doesn’t require any extra effort or time at all.

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Ern October 15, 2015 - 4:23 PM

A sprig of home grown herb on top or on the side, and like magic simple to special with the snap of a twig.

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sonya October 15, 2015 - 7:56 PM

I add herbs like coriander. Our whole family ADORES coriander and it makes our meals so much healthier and tastier.

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karina l October 15, 2015 - 8:28 PM

I present my food nicely and add pretty garnishes to it..it makes my simple dishes look a million bucks!

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Wendy October 15, 2015 - 8:48 PM

To stretch a meal extra veg, pasta or rice. To make a meal a bit more special I fancy up the presentation or make a small change, a bit of grated cheese to make cheesy mash vs plain mash, etc

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kds October 15, 2015 - 9:52 PM

Cooking a home cooked meal from scratc takes my family meals from simple to special. When the whole family is at the table , talking and eating 🙂

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Sarah October 16, 2015 - 5:17 AM

I add a generous handful of porridge oats to any dishes with mince to stretch another serving out. Really good with bolognese/ragu type dishes and my kids don’t notice. Healthy too!

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Caroline October 16, 2015 - 6:36 AM

One word… Candlelight!!! Makes even my dodgy cooking look good! Adds atmosphere, makes the mundane special and lets me say that the food is not “burnt” it’s “candle-kissed”!!!!

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Heather Mcdaniel October 16, 2015 - 6:43 AM

We light candles 1 night a week. We also have themed meals which the kids love planning

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Melissa October 16, 2015 - 6:46 AM

I always add a little something special, whether it be trying to plate up like a pro chef (or make fun faces for the little one), add a sprinkle of herbs and.oil to garnish or an extra special home made sauce

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clare dorey October 16, 2015 - 7:06 AM

I always bulk meals up with veggies or bread of some kind, but to keep my kids really happy in summer we eat outside on the deck. Too easy! 🙂

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Lisa Bonner October 16, 2015 - 7:20 AM

My children are 18 years and up, so we get together and have Family Dinner once a month. They take it in turns to decide and cook/order at my place. Without fail garlic bread is always on the menu! Garlic bread and togetherness make meals special at our place.

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Connie April 20, 2016 - 6:53 PM

Thniikng like that is really amazing

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Gabrielle October 16, 2015 - 7:25 AM

I love to add homegrown fresh herbs.

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Jessie Atkins October 16, 2015 - 7:35 AM

Love garlic bread and herb bread too. If we neeed to stretch a meal, we serve them as brushetta, before the meal. Top the bread with a mixture of diced tomato, red onion and basil. Drizzle of olive oil. Hey presto. This way the kids dont just fill up on bread they get some veg in as well. Smaller portion of meal to follow. Try adding avacado and corn as well. Yummo..Pan bread (with cheese) are also great for toasties for lunch. I put them in the sandwich press frozen, add fillings. Very quick and easy.

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Nikki Sims-Chilton October 16, 2015 - 7:42 AM

Let Daddy cook – apparently it’s always better when he does it… *sigh

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Lynda Delaney October 16, 2015 - 7:53 AM

Teenagers eat so much, it is unbelievable just how much they eat so I really have to add lots more vegetables to everything and rather than boring potatoes, I cut them into small pieces, cook them in the microwave and then pop into a frypan with a little oil and some herbs and paprika and toss them until coated and a little crunchy. My 12 year old son won’t normally eat potatoes but will if I do them like this.

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Carmel Corry October 16, 2015 - 7:54 AM

We love simple food, so we make it special by sitting at the table together, using a clean table cloth, matching cutlery and plates, lots of conversation and laughs! We also use our fanciest glasses. No point them sitting in the cupboard gathering dust. Turns simple healthy food into a gourmet experience

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Pauline October 16, 2015 - 8:33 AM

I find by adding lots of variety to our meals that everyone enjoys it so much more. I might add a small bowl of soup with garlic bread to start and then the main can be simpler with meat and a few vegetables. Or I may go vegetarian and do vegetable pancakes with chopped up salad vegetables, corn cobs even a bowl of steamed broccoli. My kids tend to eat everything if there is more variety and serving themselves from the dishes in the centre of the table. It just looks so delicious. Sweet potato chips is another side I use often. Add a nice candle to the table and your all set.

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rachel October 16, 2015 - 8:36 AM

if I’m making any dish with mince I add brown lentil or red kidney beans to the mix to make it go further. I add extra vegies or extra pasta. I dish up on slightly smaller plates to make the meal look bigger.

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Karen Van der Heijde October 16, 2015 - 8:51 AM

Instead of doing just mash or plain baked potatoes I either do smashed baked potatoes with garlic and herbs over them or the whole potatoes that you slice almost through to the bottom and top with garlic butter then bake. Just makes it a little extra special and I love the garlic.

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Karen October 16, 2015 - 8:58 AM

We always set the table…. sounds simple but it really makes an everyday meal feel more special, It also ensures that the four of us sit together to eat and chat about the day.

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annemarie October 16, 2015 - 9:02 AM

I have started using my slow cooker for sides, one night will be bacon and garlic cheesy potato, cous cous salad, pumpkin mini pies. My kids love garlic bread so some nights they will have it as a side dish. My fav is creating lots of mince recipes from a basic recipe. I cook nachos, then tacos, lasagne, then spaghetti adding mushrooms, shepherds pie, then meat balls..a basic mince recipe that can create so many meals and no wasted left overs!

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Emily New October 16, 2015 - 9:15 AM

I grate carrot, zucchini and onion into all my mince dishes (even hubby can’t see the extra veggies).
I always have extra veggies in the freezer, to add to the fresh veggies.

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Liz October 16, 2015 - 9:47 AM

When we cook with the kids or make something the kids love, we say it’s made in our own special restaurant Robinson Palms. The name of our street is Robinson.

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Joni October 16, 2015 - 10:12 AM

I grow a few herbs and vegetables at home do I add in homemade bread that I make with the breadmaker but snip home grown rosemary, basil, garlic or parsley into the mix, or I make a side salad with home grown rocket, mizuma lettuce and cucumber. It’s quite time consuming with 4 growing kids to feed!

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Katie October 16, 2015 - 10:13 AM

I make my meals special by cooking ahead and freezing so all I have to do is reheat and serve…special is the extra time I have with my boys because of my forward planning x

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Laurina October 16, 2015 - 10:15 AM

I like to change up how I serve meals by using different vegetables or salad instead. But each time making sure there is plenty of flavour because that is what will keep the boys coming back for more! I always sneak plenty of extra veg into meals as well!

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Zoe Morris October 16, 2015 - 10:26 AM

Add a sprinkle to make it special. Special is a garnish. A sprinkle of parsley or Parmesan, a sprinkle of nuts to a salad or a halved cherry tomato to garnish. Simple ans special.

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kylie c October 16, 2015 - 10:44 AM

We make dinners special by deciding as a family, we sit down and the kids all suggeat meals they would like to have. We compile these and come up with a meal plan, my 11yo girl picks two meals she would like to cook, and my 8yo son picks one meal, and my 6yo son picks one meal he would like to help with, and rhe 2yo picks one to help with. The kids being involved in the decision making is really special because it gives them the choice of what they would like to eat, what days we eat what, and shows them that there’s more then just cooking involved.
When it comes to the meals, theres always special ways to display, like smiley faces, stacks of rice, we add grated farrot or zucchini to rice to bulk it out, add a vegetable, and give it a colourful appearance. When we have pasta bakes, lasagnes, or the like we do individual ones then a shared salad, or garlic bread.
We don’t do desert every night but a couple of times a week as a special treat, but each night we do fruit after dinner, there’s been fruit faces, fruit kebabs, chocolate dipped fruit, fruit with yoghurt to dip.
We keep dinners special by keeping them kid focused so they enjoy them and have positive eating experiences.

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Rebecca October 16, 2015 - 11:01 AM

To make our dinners stretch I’ll do extra veggies, or a salad, or some bread and butter My mother in law always adds oats and some water to her bolognaise to help it go further. If I have any I’ll use a garlic bread to fill them up too! 🙂 My favorite EASY dessert stretcher is doing jelly in disposable cups. Only fill them half way and then serve with some fruit on top and whipped cream! 🙂 YUMMY kids love them!!

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Lucy October 16, 2015 - 11:30 AM

my family love when we get takeaway! Obviously we can’t always have it so I use takeaway containers to serve it up and when we do eat our takeaway we always put the “blue blanket” down on the floor and we have an inside picnic

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Leanne October 16, 2015 - 11:33 AM

I make meals special by adding lots of hidden vegetables to every meal. It makes me feel special knowing that my kids are getting lots of nutrients without me having to fight them to eat the good stuff.
Of course if you ask my kids, they would say I make meals special by adding grated Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

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Marg October 16, 2015 - 11:38 AM

I put the individual components of the meal in separate containers for each child so they all have their own portion, no fighting, and make their meal how they want it. It always amazes me how doing this simple task turns meals into fun and the kids are full of ideas.

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Sonya N. October 16, 2015 - 12:03 PM

Because I have two very young children, our simple meals are made special (and subsequently more edible!) by making pictures with our food. So spaghetti bolognese and meatballs will be turned into a face with crazy hair, broccoli and cauliflower will be turned into a forest, and sometimes we add purple food dye to mashed potato just to make it look weird! If I didn’t do such things to our meals I doubt my children would ever eat!

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Jules October 16, 2015 - 12:07 PM

I find using herbs turns simple meals into special ones! Sweet potato and parsnip roasted in the oven with smoked paprika and olive oil has truly transformed our dinner plates, and the kids will now always eat their vegies! Ditto with using cumin to flavour roast potatoes. Herbs are key!

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Tracey Cross October 16, 2015 - 1:03 PM

My kids think any meal where they can dish up for themselves is special, can be anything from take away to meat and vegies, it really doesn’t matter because they feel so grown up being allowed to decide what they want.

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cheryl October 16, 2015 - 1:43 PM

To make my homemade meals, which is everyday, a bit more special I go through my collection of food photos either from the internet or magazines and try to present my food so it looks similar to the beautiful photos whenever I can. I just love lots of colour on a plate and then the look of broken bread along side it.

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Katrina McAliece October 16, 2015 - 4:18 PM

I love making the La Famiglia Garlic bread into a quick & easy bruschetta as an entree! Delicious and stretches dinner perfectly!

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Vanessa Ebert October 16, 2015 - 4:47 PM

Sometimes when we get takeaway roast chicken instead if having hot chips and salad with it, I will cook up vegies and a potato bake and serve with garlic bread…La Famiglia of course its our fave. You don’t have to limit garlic bread to pasta meals….we have it as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes. Simple pleasures and delicious too ?

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Ariane October 17, 2015 - 12:04 AM

My family get super excited if i serve garlic bread or a delicious suace with my meal

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Janine Bone October 17, 2015 - 3:25 PM

If you asked each of my family members what a special meal in our home means, these might be the responses you’d get… The question might spur my hubby to beg me to make his fave Mexican especiale which includes creamy prawn burritos with all the trimmings of guacamole, rice, beans and fresh salsa; my eldest daughter would loyally say that anything that Mummy makes is a special meal; my middle girl would say that she loves the meals that don’t require cutlery; and my little one would say that she loves to have spaghetti bolognaise for brekky, lunch and dinner. But if you ask me, what makes a family meal special in my home is when we are all here together, something that only happens a couple of times a week due to shift working parents. Having all 5 of us sitting at our scratched up old dining table, giggling and chatterboxing over the days events, speculating over tomorrow, and just being there. No matter the meal, boring or extravagant, my little 5-some, that’s what makes it special for me, x

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Maria October 17, 2015 - 4:50 PM

I was visiting a great aunt who was 93 years old, in Italy, whom I hadn’t seen in years. She had prepared lentil soup and apologised because it was a simple meal. But to me, it was very special as it was prepared with love and attention.

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Grace October 17, 2015 - 9:52 PM

To make our simple family meals special, we have a vase of beautiful fresh flowers,(eg roses,azaleas, bird of paradise etc, from our garden) on the dining table . Our simple dishes are followed by our favourite desserts, fruit with ice cream and background soft popular music.

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Amanda October 17, 2015 - 10:31 PM

To turn a meal from simple to special is to have dinner with the ones we love a little bit of extra effort in the place setting and table arrangements with everyone chipping in then adding fresh herbs to a meal to add zing and flavour and to make it really special is to cook one of the beautiful recipes that have been passed down through the generations not only do they taste great but we can reminisce about the people who no longer sit with us but remain forever in our thoughts.

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Tracey October 18, 2015 - 3:06 AM

I have always added rice or pasta to the meal or served with it. Two minute noodles are handy for that extra stretch too as the younger children think them to be worms in dirt.
Grated vegetables help too, this can be added to meals and children think they have gotten away with not having to eat so many veggies.
I add veggies to the mince for spaghetti, my Italian daughter in law is shocked but my children grew up on it and love it.
When making muffins or biscuits extras are frozen one so they stay fresh and some are left for work/school. There are times when the supply builds up and they are taken out as treats, they thaw quickly being small. So are ready for after dinner.
One that my older children do it cook some rice or hopefully some leftover rice add a tin of a meal together eg: Heniz cans and this mixture is put on to flat bread rolled and placed in the sandwich maker to brown. This turns a tinned meal for 2 plus a 2 cups of rice and 6 flat breads into a hearty meal for 3 teenage boys with leftovers for younger children if they want it..

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Tracey October 18, 2015 - 3:10 AM

What makes these meals special is that everyone helps in making them not just one person is left to make everything. It is the sharing of a simple meal that makes a difference.

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Alison October 18, 2015 - 6:24 AM

We have culture night once a week. We cook a meal from a different country, learn a few quick facts about that country and eat it as they would ie with chopsticks etc. We also add candlelight to mix some nights! Lots of fun!!

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Pam October 18, 2015 - 3:38 PM

My fourboys are veggie lovers. We have a huge bowl of green and yellow every night, and potatoes ( roasted, mashed or scalloped) fill up growing boys. Garlic bread disappears, and fried rice is another favorite. Leftovers just don’t happen very often

Even better – they are learning to cook. I expect to retire and let them take over some day!

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Pam October 18, 2015 - 3:38 PM

My four boys are veggie lovers. We have a huge bowl of green and yellow every night, and potatoes ( roasted, mashed or scalloped) fill up growing boys. Garlic bread disappears, and fried rice is another favorite. Leftovers just don’t happen very often

Even better – they are learning to cook. I expect to retire and let them take over some day!

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Jessica Maloney October 18, 2015 - 11:25 PM

By letting my our pet cockatiel Mr Doodson, sit on my shoulder at dessert, who then whistles his heart out serenades us with tunes!

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Allison October 19, 2015 - 4:14 PM

My top tip is to have hubby/daddy cook the meal – Seriously he is a way better cook and makes incredible seasoning combinations and from scratch sauces/dressing.
We eat very simple meals – meat (lamb backstrap, chicken or steak are favourites) and we eat them grilled with salad/veg and rice/cous cous but the flavour & spice combinations my hubby comes up with makes the whole meal ‘new’.

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Bonnie October 19, 2015 - 8:24 PM

We always sit at the table together, we take it in turns (youngest to eldest) to talk about our day and finish with the ‘best thing that happened to me today was’ ?

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Rachel October 20, 2015 - 7:31 AM

Sit at the table! Really hard to do with an adventerous 3 year old. But he helps me set the table, we use cloth napkins and I light a candle. Then we sing a quick blessing, he refuses to eat whatever I’ve cooked and runs off. So hubby and I bolt down our food and dream of the days when we can have nice civilised dinners. One day!

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Allison October 20, 2015 - 4:28 PM

When I am trying to make a meal of salad and meat “shine” I usually add fruit to the meal for added flavour. Usually this consists of orange, pineapple and apple. I think it really freshens up the meal and makes it a little different to an ordinary salad.

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Kate - Kat's Assistant October 22, 2015 - 11:42 AM

Ooh that sounds yummy. I have never thought to add fruit to a salad. Will have to give it a try in tonight salad.:)

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Sibylle October 20, 2015 - 8:55 PM

I take my family meals from simple to special by:

* Using an extra nice table cloth and/or extra nice placemats
* Having 2-3 lit candles for ambiance
* Setting the table properly, with everything in its proper spot
* Ensuring an array of colours are served up (pleasing to the eye)
* Playing soft music in the background
* Continuing great conversation while awaiting home-made dessert.

Works a treat every time!!

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Rebecca October 23, 2015 - 9:17 AM

for me, its all about the presentation….. funky shape plates, origami folded napkins, bread boards, fresh herbs topping the meal. I’ve even been known to present meatloaf looking like cupcakes (mince ‘cupcake’, mashed potato ‘icing’, sprinkled with parsley) kids loved it

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Chris October 23, 2015 - 10:26 AM

If my kids and grand kids call in unanounced on a Sunday which they often do I can stretch a bake dinner by cutting vegetables smaller and adding extra vegetables like corn on the cob and carrots and of course you can always have a side of garlic bread and desert. I always keep garlic bread in freezer it goes with any meal.

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Charmaine Hardy October 23, 2015 - 10:34 AM

I make the family meals go from simple to special by adding a piece of FRUIT to the plate. An apple, orange, mandarin or grapes not only add colour to the plate but also help satisfy grumbling tummies. The kids often try to guess which fruit will be the special guest tonight.

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Raquel Stankovic October 23, 2015 - 10:44 AM

We have now come up with a “Jaime Oliver” style of dishing up the sides – either a salad, garlic pizza or garlic bread dished up looking rustic on a chopping board – kids love everything and anything that is on here. It’s like a kid in a candy store 🙂

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Kim October 23, 2015 - 10:59 AM

To make meals more special I get the kids involved in the choice and preparation – it makes them appreciate how much time and effort go into meal planning, prep and cooking. They have more pride in the choices they make and the food we eat.

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Karlene Forrest October 23, 2015 - 11:22 AM

Our 7 year olds makes every meal “special” by smothering it in tomato sauce. He won’t eat tomatoes. Or pasta sauce. Just tomato sauce.
I make the rest of our family’s meal special with the addition of dessert.

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Helen Flockhart October 23, 2015 - 1:10 PM

Although I’m a proud Aussie citizen, I’m a Scot so oatmeal is the great addition. I’m the great gran of a large family and our tradition is to make “the stranger’s portion” in case somebody extra drops by at dinner time. All soups, stews and savoury mince dishes start with skirlie. This is simply chopped onion and oatmeal browned in a little oil in a frypan. It has a nice nutty flavour. Remove from your pan to the pot you will cook your soup etc in before browning and sealing your meat to stop it becoming dry during cooking. I always make extra skirlie as we eat it on toast too! Barley in your soap increases your meal cheaply. Curried barley instead of rice occasionally. I married a Sicilian so it’s bread with everything there! An Italian loaf can feed a large number if you top a little olive spread, butter or brushed oil with a little cheese mixed with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and either pop under the grill or in the oven.. It dresses the bread without being grilled cheese on toast. You’re not spending much money but delighting the eye! You can use baguette bread too. Increase the surface size by slicing the loaf on a diagonal slant. I have a large freezer container where leftover vegetables go, including any roasted ones. Any small amounts of roast meats too. I put a helping of skirlie and any barley left over. If the grandkids and their little ones visit, I can put these into a pot and have a tasty homemade soup on in a flash. Everything is already cooked. It just needs bringing to the boil. Need it quicker, defrost in the microwave. Cheese or garlic bread and this great gran can feed the brood well on my OAP!

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Melanie October 23, 2015 - 1:24 PM

I am all about the garlic bread, and master 2 demands it nightly!
I find the biggest hit with my family is when I create a meal that requires their input!
So, for example: tacos. Having all the ingredients out on the lazy susan (I know!!!) so they can create their own meal masterpieces! it really takes a simple meal into a whole “event” and gets us all talking about new combinations, ingredients and it a great way for them to try new things (and for me to use up leftovers often too!) works for burgers, wraps, tacos, burritos, pizzas, even simple sides to another meal. its amazing how much good stuff they eat when it is their choice!

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Helen October 23, 2015 - 4:15 PM

Fondue Friday! No one can be uncheered by simple bread, strawberries or marshmallows oozing with warm chocolate. Yum.

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Candice October 24, 2015 - 2:49 AM

We have our kids help to make our meals special. Our 2 year old helps with mixing and grating veggies, while our 4 year old measures and chops with us. It takes longer to prepare, it”s a lot more mess and our pizza bases can occasionally be oval, but our meals are special.

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Lola October 24, 2015 - 6:31 AM

We don’t eat “leftovers” we have a “dinner sampler”. A dinner sampler is a full meal made up of small portions of a variety of leftovers! Kids won’t touch leftovers but get excited over the dinner sampler.

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Anne-Marie Marini October 24, 2015 - 11:25 PM

We always make everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. Including gravy & white sauce & present it nicely for the kids & make our own desserts.

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Mrs Caroline Matthews October 25, 2015 - 3:21 PM

I like to turn my family meals from simple to special by making kumera,potato, garlic, cheeses and herb vegetable patties,dan dan noodles to traditional savoury mince, chicken meatloaf with 2 minute noodles, vegetables through lasagne and left over rice for fried rice.

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Pat October 26, 2015 - 8:53 AM

My husband will not eat frozen leftovers, but since I re-named them to frozen dinners, he will eat them. I re-heat them in the microwave and serve up on a nice plate.
When the kids were at that massive growth and hunger teen stage I was going through 750 gm of pasta per pasta meal. The children would never eat pumpkin or any mashed veg other than potato, so we combined them resulting in some fabulous colours. These days we have green mashed potato, then it was orange or yellow mashed potato. (Green being chopped parsley, orange was pumpkin and yellow was a smaller quantity of pumpkin)
Was so used to making double batches of pikelets that I was quite surprised when I started having leftovers. ie the kids had grown up and weren’t ravishing hungry all the time.

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Anita October 26, 2015 - 1:36 PM

As my husband is a shift worker we try to make dinner a fun and special time when we can be all together. My sons favourite daddy dinner time is our lounge room picnics. It can be with any usual dinnertime menu, or a “pick and mix” dinner. It is all done on the floor of the lounge room where we sit in a circle with the picnic rug and cushions. We even use our picnic set, plastic cutlery and all.

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Eva Kiraly October 27, 2015 - 8:57 AM

A meal just isn’t a meal without the accompaniments, a plate of Garlic Bread and bowl of salad in the centre of the table makes all the difference!

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Renee October 27, 2015 - 9:12 AM

A little love and thoughtfulness goes a long way

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cal potter October 27, 2015 - 3:42 PM

With apple juice in wine glasses, we all dress up in our best princess costumes and dine to the sound of “the wheels on the bus”

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amy w October 27, 2015 - 5:54 PM

I have ALWAYS added garlic bread. I have been known to cook pasta and roast dinners a lot so I can add garlic bread because I love it so much. But my favourite way to stretch a meal is with the la famiglia garlic bread slices. The nicely browned ones go to me, the medium ones go to hubby and the kids like them when the butter is just melted… Mmm yum!!

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Michelle October 27, 2015 - 9:14 PM

Making stuff from scratch feels more special and homely. My kids love my flour tortillas and pizza bases that I make.

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Anita Mitchell October 28, 2015 - 5:40 AM

Individualised side salads and yummy sauces always help; paprika sprinkled on the potatoes; butter and lemon on the beans. But the favourite way to signal a really special meal is to serve a homemade dessert! It can be as simple as a bikkie or a butter cake with vanilla icing; but home made is best.

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Kelly Parker October 28, 2015 - 7:04 AM

I try to make meals family friendly, something we all enjoy and by eating together as a family

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Alicia October 28, 2015 - 7:10 AM

Add a side salad, rice, cous cous and/or garlic or cheesy mustard bread to make meals go that bit further. But I also add lots of hidden veg, fresh herbs into my dishes to ensure my family are getting all the nutrition they need, without even knowing it!!!

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Tanya October 28, 2015 - 7:31 AM

I make more salads, for example, I had 3 extra adults over for dinner with the same amount of rissoles I generally feed just my family so I made a tomato salad, a quick noodle salad and then I sliced some pumpkin thin and brushed with maple syrup and roasted. It fed everyone easily

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Jacelle October 28, 2015 - 8:39 AM

We make our meal time special every night with us all eating our meal together at the dining table. Dinner plates, cutlery, nice glasses and fabric napkins all seem so special in our fast paced lives. Sometimes the candles come out too!

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Kat October 28, 2015 - 8:49 AM

A little green salad and fresh grated cheese makes any meal look good. A big plate of garlic bread in the middle of table for the family to gather around is great.

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Nicole October 28, 2015 - 9:20 AM

We try to eat together as a family every night we can… And its always a win win when the garlic bread is served! I also like to use different sauces where possible and let the kids experience more flavour.

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belinda baldwin October 28, 2015 - 10:36 AM

add a bit of love to each meal and of course adding melted cheese goes a long way to achieving this

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Donna Germon October 28, 2015 - 12:50 PM

I have 5 children who all like different things. To stretch our meals I get them involved. They help make salads they will eat, they help add extra vegies to dishes or they help make an extra part of the meal, like a fresh focaccia or flat bread. My son has recently started making fresh pasta and thoroughly enjoys it! We always serve our meals on platters on the table for everyone to help themselves.

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Kathie A October 28, 2015 - 1:36 PM

I like to make our family meals extra special by:
Setting the table
Using the ‘specially polished’ cutlery
Serving one of the family’s favourite meals…with garlic bread, of course
Using wine glasses (even if they’re just filled with soft drink for the littlies)
By having a calm, relaxed & thankful attitude! After all, we are all together, enjoying fab food & each other’s company 🙂

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Gail October 28, 2015 - 4:49 PM

I make a meal special by having some interesting prepared mason jar salads in several sizes ready to go ,just shake and pour gently onto the main plate , simply superb with lasagne , pasta bolognaise, casserole , fish , steak or chicken It has been a blessing having these jars all prepared ahead on a Sunday, ready for lunches and dinners for days ahead , they literally save me hours of prep time and make every meal so very special .
& Thank you Kat for the idea!!

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Katie October 28, 2015 - 8:32 PM

Often, it’s not the cooking skills or ingredients that makes meals special in our house but the process my husband and I do together every night. Menu planning, grocery shopping and all cooking are performed together. The laughs and teamwork make every meal special even on the occasion when we fail miserably. In fact it was these processes that helped us move from housemates to marriage.

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Laura Scriven October 28, 2015 - 8:39 PM

We sit around the table every day,
We learn and share that way!
I like to try a new weekly dinner,
Sometimes I make a winner!

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Jacky October 28, 2015 - 9:13 PM

I add fresh herbs and spices: the colours and aromas make everything look and smell so delicious the whole family tucks in.

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brook July 12, 2016 - 2:11 PM

We quite often add indian breads to any south east Asian meals, they’re really filling, as well as pappadums and cut cucumber and tomato. I do prawn crackers, rice with most Asian dishes, or salads on side of nasi goreng. Often can get/make cheap starters like samosa, spring roll, fish cake, pakora etc too.

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