I’m a food expert – 5 savvy hacks that make family meal times 10 times easier & how to sneak in vegetables | The Sun

FAMILY life can be chaotic, and, as we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis, it’s not always easy to feed the whole family efficiently. 

With a hectic schedule of activities, work, and school, for parents to navigate, mealtimes can seem like a minefield to plan. 

However, there are plenty of things you can do to make weekly meal times less of a chore. 

We’ve spoken to Phil Bianchi, Food and Flavour Expert from The Gift of Oil, for some easy hacks to make mealtimes more convenient for all the family.

Make a universal sauce

Phil says: “Making a universal sauce is a great way to get ahead of your weekly meal time dishes.”

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“Making a big batch of sauce, such as a simple tomato and basil, at the beginning of the week will save time and also money, as it’s often cheaper than buying ready made supermarket sauces too! 

“Most tomato based sauces can be used in a variety of dishes, including meatballs, chicken parma, pasta, rice, ratatouille, traybakes – the list is endless!”

Infused Olive Oils

Phil explains: “Invest in some infused olive oils. These are a great way to enhance the simplest of dishes and can bring any dish ‘back to life’. 

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“There’s no need to throw away your leftovers as quite often these infused olive oils will keep any dish fresh and give it a second lease of life. 

“In addition to this, infused olive oils come in lots of different flavours, allowing you to recreate the same dish time and time again, each finished with a different oil to keep those tastebuds satisfied.”


They are also a great way to introduce your kids to new flavours in more subtle way.

One pot dishes

The food pro say: “One pot recipes are a great way to reduce time and reduce the amount of food waste.

“ They are really easy to make, and since everything is made in one pan, they don’t take long to clean up either!”

“There are plenty of one pot recipes available that are great for the whole family. Not only are they more convenient but they are a great way of getting all the essential food groups into one meal too!”

Batch Cook

Phil says don't be afraid of batch cooking

He said: “Batch cooking is a great way to save time and money when organising family mealtimes. Being prepared and making big batches of set meals and freezing them will not only save you time throughout the week, but also gives the whole family access to a healthy home cooked meal every day. 

“While it might seem a daunting task, if you can set aside just one hour a week to meal prep or batch cook for the week ahead, you’ll have a healthy, fulfilling meal in minutes for the rest of the week.”

Add the herbs & spices after you’ve served the food!

Phil explains “Not all children like the herbs and spices that are in their meals, and making separate meals can be so time consuming. 

“However, to make things a little easier, cook the meal to your children’s liking first, and serve them their dinner. 

“Then, you can add any additional herbs, spices and other ingredients that your child might not like, so you can all enjoy the meal to your own liking without the extra effort of separate meals.

“Currys, a chilli, or even fajitas are all great examples of when this trick can work especially well.”

When it comes to little ones getting them to eat fruit and veg can be a nightmare here are some quick tips to sneak veg into their food. 


It's the eating part that most children struggle with especially if they are sensitive to different textures. 

Blend up your fruit into a smoothie to give your kids their five a day.

You can play around with textures, make a ‘nice cream’ bowl or freeze them into lollies. 


The same can be said for veg blend them up into sauces. As long as it smooth serves it with rice, pasta, chicken our little ones will be none the wiser. 


If you’ve got a bit of extra time add veg into a dough, play around with avocado and beetroot for more exiting colours. 

Once mixed with dough these veg become relatively tasteless and make dinner time a little more interesting. 

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The food pro says: “Most little ones can be picky eaters when it comes to including vegetables into their diets. This can sometimes make mealtimes harder to organise, however there are plenty of dishes you can make, such as soups, pies and casseroles, where you can ‘sneak’ the vegetables in.

“Other ways to get your little ones to eat their veggies is to mash them up with some potato, or grate vegetables, such as carrots or zucchini into your meat mixtures, they’ll never notice the difference!"

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