Episode highlights

0:02:40 – The inspiration behind Dad’s Delicious Dinners 

0:06:58 – Ian and family have made adjustments for life under lockdown 

0:09:04 – How has he ensured the kids get healthy snacks at school?

0:12:30 – Serving a balanced diet, serving variety, and roping in the young ones

0:18:54 – What happens when different children want different foods?  

0:21:26 – Top tips for shopping within budget, planning meals, and avoiding food wastage 

0:28:08 – Was it difficult getting the kids involved with cooking and meal prep?

0:31:20 – Keeping everyone active and preparing for a 10K run 

0:35:00 – Five key actions to help you create delicious dinners for the family


Fitness Guide





Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way, without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.

Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the #1 podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is Episode 39 and joining me on today’s show is Ian from Dad’s Delicious Dinners. Dad’s Delicious Dinners was born out of Ian wanting to feed his kids a more healthier balanced diet and then sharing his work with other dads who were also wanting to do the same. His kids then took it one step further and challenged Ian to make recipes for under a fiver. Hi, Ian, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Ian: I’m really good, thank you. Yeah, and yourself?

Darren: I’m good, thanks, Ian. And we are in very strange times as we’ve just been talking about before we started recording, so how are things with you? How are you coping with it?

Ian: We’re finding it okay at the moment. It’s all about finding the right routine, finding time to help the kids with their schoolwork but also remain a family unit and keep together on that.

Darren: Yeah, I think that’s very important and I think whilst we are in these crazy times, I think there’s going to be a lot of good that will come out of this. And I think it’s a bit of a cliché in terms of reconnecting with everybody and all the rest of it, but I think people have recognised and realised that the basic things that we take for granted in life… I’m finding people are being way more pleasant. We’ve just been out on our daily walk that we have when the kids have a break from their schoolwork, and people–obviously distance–but people are saying hello, strangers are saying hello, people are asking how you are, and that’s not a bad thing, really. Life has obviously been paused, is the analogy that I use, and people are reflecting and becoming nicer, I think.

Ian: A hundred percent. We’re noticing it. Just in and around the local community, you see people when we’re walking, you get a nice friendly smile and a hello and people are paying more attention to each other.

Darren: Yeah, so it’s definitely a good thing. Ian, for those people that haven’t come across you and Dad’s Delicious Dinners, can you give us a bit of background on you and how you came to create the Delicious Dinners website?

Ian: Of course. I’m Ian, I’m a single dad. A few years back, we found ourselves getting in a bit of a food rut. I noticed the kids were getting bored with the same meals day in day out so we sort of sat down and I promised them that I’d do one meal a week that was completely brand new, I’d never made it before and we sort of tried that and it really, really worked. My daughter then decided to up the game a little bit and she said, “You’re always moaning that your skinned, so why don’t you do it for a £5 budget for the four of us? And that’s how it started.

Darren: That is a great idea of your daughter to come up with that to give you a bit of a challenge. I’m sure that was quite interesting at the time. So how did you approach that? Because a lot of parents would have gone, “No, I can’t do that,” but you obviously rose to the challenge. So how did that work out?

Ian: It took a lot of thinking about, a lot of working out in the supermarket, but you can always find supermarkets have a yellow sticker section where the food’s going to go out of date. So I was utilising that, utilising the freezer and just trying to think around the box a little bit. Checking out proper chef’s recipes and adapting posh hams down to cooking bacon. And we sort of went from there and it was actually good fun, to be honest.

Darren: Yeah, I can imagine it was. It’s a bit of a challenge and I think food is one which is always, particularly on a family budget and in families, it can be a little bit of a contentious issue. When families are stretched and obviously now in the time that we’re in, COVID-19, it’s more relevant than ever, I would say. We have the luxury that we don’t normally have of time, so people are able to get a little bit creative. But you’ve obviously taken it that step further, Ian, because you’ve got creative and you’ve taken on a challenge from your daughter but then you’ve actually gone and taken it online because I guess you realised that there’d be other people out there that need that help.

Ian: Exactly that. I recorded it for myself just to have future recipes. I was chatting with some friends and some other parents at the school and it suddenly dawned on me that some parents would need this, some parents would utilise it and it might help them sort of jazz up their mealtimes a little bit and mix it up a bit. So a bit of persuasion from some friends and I decided to start the blog.

Darren: Awesome. Okay, so what was your plan for the blog, then? Was it just to get up what you’ve learned and put the recipes up online and just share it with people, or did you have any kind of long term view or vision for it?

Ian: I didn’t have any vision for it. I decided just to keep it very basic, put the recipes online and go from there. Over the next 18 months, it kind of evolved and I started writing about my own feelings as a parent and things that we do as a family. I’ve also included a bit about parents and mental health, really just baring my soul online. 

Darren: I think that’s great, Ian, because I think there’s this whole… There was and I think there’s starting to be a shift now, but there’s this whole kind of macho thing around dads and perhaps cooking and perhaps baring their soul from a mental health perspective. And again, it’s very topical right now–mental health and people’s mental health when we’re in these times of restriction and how people deal with that. So, yeah, I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s a great resource. 

In this period of lockdown, Ian, obviously it’s even more essential for us to pay attention to our diet now to make sure that our immune system is supported. What kind of things have you been doing during this period with your dinners? Have you had to change anything because of ingredients availability? What type of things are you doing now during this lockdown period?

Ian: At the moment, we’re all having to adjust and I think it’s very difficult to find that adjustment and get it right. It’s so important that the kids eat well and properly, but we are limited so I’m quite often going through the fridge, going through the store cupboards, finding what I’ve got and adapting from that. But I’m finding the dinner side of it’s fairly easy and you will see on the blog over the coming weeks recipes are easy to make from the fridge. But it’s the snack time we’ve struggled with. Kids, I try to keep them healthy, I’m trying to get them out of the “It’s a summer holiday” mentality, let’s just raid the crisp cupboard, and they’re having to adjust. 

Myself and my daughter made some hummus last week, we’re going to be doing some roasted chickpeas in chilli this week and just trying to make the snack time more enjoyable and more healthy. 

Darren: Yeah, I mean chickpeas are a fantastic nutrient dense food, aren’t they? And they’re quite a versatile food. You’ve just described two things there which you can do.

Ian: You can chuck them in stews, you can chuck them in soups and there’s loads you can do with them and they tend to be available at supermarkets because a lot of people don’t know what to do with them.

Darren: And they’re tinned based as well, a majority of them, so you can keep them for a long period of time. That sounds really good. I think to pick up on what you said there around snacking, I know myself with my children, snacking is always a challenging one because it tends to be either the Kit Kats or the crisps. I eat a lot of mixed nuts so one of my kids has gone into that, so that’s great. They’re quite calorie dense and they have some good fats in them. But snacking, particularly in kids’ lunch boxes, how do you manage that around snacking? Because I know schools are very particular around kids not having chocolate and all the rest of it, so how do you deal with that scenario in terms of kids’ lunchboxes?

Ian: I’ve always been quite lucky. My kids love fruit and veg. My middle lad, if there’s broccoli in the fridge, he will just take it out and eat it. So I am quite lucky. With my daughter… My two boys when they were at school had school meals which we can monitor online anyway, but my daughter was quite happy to take hummus to school, breadsticks, carrot sticks. She’s not a huge sandwich fan, so we’ve always had to adapt anyway. So yeah, I haven’t particularly struggled but I think as a rule, all families, we can encourage our kids to eat fruit. Fruit is so good for you and it’s readily available even from local shops. We get through tons of kiwis, apples, oranges, and it’s important to keep them going on that.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think those you’ve already outlined; the fruit side of things is very important for kids to have part of their five-a-day. But also, I find a lot of parents that I talk to, they’ve struggled to get their kids to have fruit. I think not all kids are going to like all fruits so it’s about at least getting them to eat something. I think apples tend to be quite a staple fruit that the kids can eat, I like satsumas as well because obviously we’ve got some vitamin C in there. And blueberries, I have them personally so the kids kind of munch on them as well but they’re not always so readily available, particularly in some smaller shops. Bananas, perfect in terms of sugar and potassium and things like that, it’s good to have that for a bit of an energy boost. 

Ian: In terms of things like apples, if you cut them up, the younger kids enjoy them more, anyway, it’s not so daunting eating an apple. I got my daughter making a fruit salad so we just cut bananas, satsumas, apples, and because she did it herself, she loved it. 

Darren: Yeah, and I think that’s a good point as well. Getting them involved. When they’re more involved, I’ve found they’re more inclined to want to eat what they’ve created because it’s a creative experience and kids like being creative, they like being involved. I think that is a great tip actually: getting them involved. My two have just started to make banana splits, they quite like them. And you know what? A banana split with some cream and stuff is probably not the most healthiest thing, but if they’re happy to get involved and make it themselves and then come up with the idea in the first place, I’m all for that.

Ian:  In moderation. As long as they’re eating healthy in general, the odd cheat day, if you like, isn’t going to do much harm.

Darren: No. I’d agree with that. In terms of the balancing of the diet, then, like macros and micro nutrients and vitamins and stuff like that, is that something you actively drill into or is it a case of, like you’ve just said, just having variety? Do you just approach it from that standpoint?

Ian: It’s a little bit of both. It’s very difficult because getting the right nutrients and vitamins, it’s very scientific and we’re all different–every kid’s different, every adult’s different. I really concentrate on making sure they have their five-a-day, making sure what they are eating is healthy or as healthy as I can get it. And especially at the moment, kids are going to crave a bit of junk food every now and again but don’t use processed ones. Make your own chicken nuggets, make your own… there’s loads. We do homemade burgers and they actually make their own, homemade pizzas. The last time we did that, my eldest chucked a load of spinach on it and because he did it, he ate the lot.

Darren: Yeah, but I think there’s something a little bit deeper in that and I think that’s a very clever thing to do. Because the challenge that you have with all the shop-bought variants of what you’ve just suggested, is that they have to put a lot of preservatives in there to keep the shelf life. The thing with it is, the meal itself is not the problem; it’s the way that it’s produced. You’ve just highlighted their chicken nuggets; there’s nothing wrong with having chicken nuggets if you’re making them at home because you know exactly what ingredients are going in there and then you don’t get the downsides of all of these preservatives that need to go into the foods in order to get their shelf life. 

So I think that’s very clever and I think that the homemade pizza scenario as well is a great way for all of the family to get involved, get a bit messy and then they cook it up. The thing with the pizza is it doesn’t take too long to create so you can hold the kids’ attention. And then, like you say, they’re more inclined to devour it because it’s something that they’ve produce themselves.

Ian: Also, like you’ve said, it gives you something to do as a family and when you’re making a pizza dough, everyone’s got flour on their hands. And an impromptu flour fight where you clap your hands above someone’s head, it’s amazing. And at the moment, laughter is going to be the key to everything.

Darren: Absolutely, I think that’s a fantastic point. We all get carried away with making sure the house is clean and tidy and we don’t perhaps have the time to clean up after ourselves because of a mess. But exactly like you say, right now, at night time, we’re not going to go be going anywhere, so what is the harm in getting a bit dirty? Like you say, laughter is very, very key for our mental health and just bonding as a family as well. You have a laugh together, rather than being strict or being told what to do–laughter is a fantastic way.

Ian: It is and also, it’s leading onto other things. My middle boy loves cooking so I gave him a challenge: I gave him five or six ingredients and he came up with dinner and it was amazing. And he did it all on his own and the others now want to do that. And I think this is the opportunity for us all. We’ve got the time on our hands at the moment, let’s spend that wisely and maybe teach the kids a little life skill of cooking and let them explore stuff. Sometimes it won’t work, sometimes it will work.

Darren: Yeah, that’s great advice. I think that’s the other thing: we all get too caught up into having everything being perfect or everything been amazingly produced and curated and all the rest of it. What does it matter if they create something and it’s not that nice? They then know what goes together to make it not nice, and then, like you say, the creativity element. And it’s a life skill. 

I don’t know what it’s like in your schools but from my kids’ schools, they seem to have lost this whole kind of education around cooking and nutrition and stuff like that. It doesn’t seem to be that widely available in schools anymore and it’s a really important life skill. I think that might be one of the reasons why we have such an obesity crisis in the country. Because people don’t really understand the basics of nutrition and what it takes to create a very simple meal, the default is either to get something out of a packet or get something out of the takeaway.

Ian: It’s almost that convenience level that the nation’s in, where we all want it now, we’re not prepared to make it ourselves. I think with the schools, I know my oldest is doing his GCSEs and he chose PE and they do teach about nutrition and the food you should be eating. But up until that level, he only had very basic food tech where they would make an apple crumble one week and then they would make flapjack the next week. And I think you’re right, if we could go back and get even the primary schools doing more cooking and more teaching on that, we wouldn’t have such a big problem.

Darren: No, definitely. Well, Jamie Oliver tried it back a few years ago now and he tried to kind of reset the school dinners. But I actually think that this is why your site is so valuable because it needs to go deeper than that. It does need to go to the parents. I get and understand and respect that parents have a lot on their plates already, but these basic fundamentals of understanding nutrition, of cooking yourself, doing basic meals, making something up for yourself, is a really, really important life skill because our nutrition affects what goes on in our bodies. There’s big talk around gut health and things like that and gut microbiome and it is so true. If you put in inflammatory foods into your stomach, that goes to affect your mental capacity, it goes to affect the inflammation in your body and all the rest of it. It’s not to be kind of brushed off or thought about lightly, it is very important. 

Ian, with some households, there’s a lot of families who have like multiple meals because one member of the family doesn’t like this, the other one doesn’t like that. How does that work in your family? It would appear that that’s slightly different.

Ian: It is to a degree although my daughter, last summer, decided to become vegetarian which has thrown a swerve ball, if you like. But basically, we’ve adapted to it. Now, I’m lucky my boys will eat fish so we add a lot more fish to our diet, but they also want their meat sometimes. I’ve started doing recipes where the base of it can be the same, but I can maybe add some prawns for my daughter and some pork for my boys afterwards. It’s all about adaption and, yes, it might create one extra saucepan to wash up but it’s important that (A) we eat together and (B) I don’t want to be cooking hundreds of meals every night. And there’s plenty of meals that you can do that with. 

We’ve adapted, we’ve learnt to do that and I appreciate that I am fortunate, my kids really eat most things. However, families as a whole can work out what their children eat. Like most kids don’t like mushrooms so let’s skip that in their diet and replace it with something else rather than try to force them to eat it. Because we all know, as soon as they become adults, they’ll realise actually mushrooms are all right. So you adapt and you change. Don’t follow recipes from a book strictly. Most of them are so flexible. As long as you get the core bits right, the rest of it can come. 

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think what you said there about being adaptable, that’s just something that I’m a huge advocate about with dads’ fitness and nutrition. Don’t throw your hands in the air because one kid wants one thing and one wants the other; have a look at the recipe and then have a look at how you can adapt it. You’ve got a perfect example there of still doing the same meal but you’re just changing the base. You’re changing the meat for the fish or the fish for the meat. So yeah, I think adaptability is really, really key. 

Some people believe that in order to eat healthy or have a healthy diet, there’s this huge thing around it costing a lot of money. You’ve demonstrated that that’s not the case. You’ve alluded to some already at the beginning of the interview, but what kind of tips can you recommend or what you found for people that are listening that need to watch their budgets, but they want to eat a nutrient dense diet–they want to change their diets?

Ian: It’s all about being sensible when you’re shopping. Up until very recently, we relied quite heavily on the yellow sticker section because that’s where you get reduced meats, reduced fish and you can put it in your freezer. But at the moment, that’s not around so I’m literally meal planning for the week, going out, getting the meat I need, either putting it in the freezer or keeping it in the fridge, but I’m also mixing it up a bit. If you like fish, get some frozen fish. It’s just the same as normal fish, it’s just been frozen at source and frozen fish tends to be quite cheap. 

Also, if you noticed, I bought two heads of broccoli in my last shopping. I used one for a ready dinner, the other one, I blanched it in boiling water for a few minutes, froze it on a plate, and then once it had frozen, I put it into a freezer bag. And now that’s perfect for next week’s roast dinner. So it’s just about finding the stuff you like, buy it and keep it fresh, either freeze it or use it. But also with the fresh ingredients at the moment, none of us want to go to the supermarket that much–utilise your local shops. They’ve all got apples, they’ve all got veg, you can buy that relatively cheaply and adapt your routine to fit what’s going on at the moment.

Darren: I think that’s very sound advice, to be honest. You mentioned there, Ian, about doing the meal planning for the week. That’s something that I do, that’s something that I advocate, everybody does because it just takes the hassle out of it. When you’re planning for your weekly meals, do you do similar things on a week by week and then just maybe change one or two recipes? How do you plan out your meals?

Ian: This has actually changed quite recently for me. Because of my blog, I’ve tended to plan day to day with what’s in the yellow sticker section so that I can get my recipes up online. Now what I’m doing is relying on knowledge that I’ve learnt because I’m not a chef, I’m self-taught at this and I’m now trying bi weekly at a time. So I’ll look at it, if I can get a chicken that will do a roast dinner for me and the boys and I’ll do something else for my daughter. But it will also do something I can do on the next day, whether it be a homemade pie, whether it be a risotto, a stir fry. There’s so much you can do with the leftover chicken. 

It’s about planning in advance. So if for example the supermarket’s got pork at moment but you can’t get beef or lamb, get the pork, think about recipes you can do with that. Whether it’s a pork fillet, you can cut it up, you can stir fry it, it is endless what you can do and there’s tons of recipes on my website for this situation. And I think, not only wanting to plug my own website, go to Jamie Oliver’s, there’s a ton of five ingredient meals, so just seek out what you want to eat for the week. And, yes, you might want to change one night but that’s easy; just mix it up a little bit.

Darren: I have this concept of what I call the capsule cupboard. What that is, essentially, is that we have five to six meals that we have every single week and we do that the same every single week. And what that means is that I can keep in the house, we know that we’ve always got the ingredients we need in order to make those meals, and it makes it very, very simple from a shopping perspective because you know what you’re going to buy each week. 

But when stuff gets a little bit boring, which it obviously does if you have the same thing every now and then, is that you switch one out. You switch one food out for another food and that means you don’t have to redo your whole menu, you don’t have to rebuy everything or different stuff; you can quite easily swap it out. And I’m constantly asking the kids are they still all right with the meals that we’re having or are they’re getting a bit bored? And the minute they say they’re getting a bit bored, we just switch it out and change it up.

Ian: I think that’s right and I think it’s the time to get creative. Like I said earlier, we’ve all got that bit more time on our hands and just think about meals that you’ve not cooked before. Or if the veg is looking like it’s not going to last much longer, boil it all up and turn it into a really thick hearty soup, a homemade vegetable soup. The kids adore it, you can add paprika if you want, you can add any Italian spices that are in the cupboard, and they can eat that at lunchtime and you know it will fill them up all day.

Darren: That’s fantastic advice because I think it’s common knowledge that as a nation, we waste way too much food. And with the restrictions that are imposed upon us right now where we just can’t pop out to the shops, now is the time to actually look in the fridge, what have you got that you can cook? And then you can make something out of it that’s quite nice, which means that it’s not going to go in the bin. It’s criminal the amount of stuff that we do throw away as a nation. That’s very sound advice that we should all consider about cooking something from essentially nothing.

Ian: Little things like a roast chicken, once you finish with the roast chicken, you can boil those bones up and turn it into a chicken stock that you can stick in the freezer. That chicken stock can be added to risotto, it could be added to pies, it could be made into gravy. You can do all manner with that and it’s in your freezer and it’s cost you nothing.

Darren: One thing I will say about that is when you do that process, it’s essentially bone broth and you get a lot of very, very good collagen protein from animal bones that have been boiled up and that is essential for the connective tissue in our bodies. So creating something from essentially what we would consider to be waste, people really need to understand how valuable that is in terms of the nutrients that we can add to our diet. Yeah, that’s a great bit of advice. 

We’ve talked about how you’ve got your kids involved in preparing and eating healthy meals. What would you say was the catalyst for them becoming involved? Because some people listening to this might be thinking that we’re pushy parents, we’re making sure they’re getting in the kitchen, but it’s definitely not like that from the couple of times that you and I have spoken. You’ve managed to get your kids involved so how do you think you’ve managed to do that? What do you think is the catalyst?

Ian: I’ve never once asked them to help me, and to start with, none of them did. But slowly as my blog developed and I became more creative myself, they actually wanted to. But it’s little things. It’s like teaching them how to use a knife and cut up meat and vegetables and do it safely. I find the actual getting involved, the tasting things and asking their opinion on what it tastes like and do they think it needs more pepper, do they think it needs more paprika. 

But also, it’s the small things that we went over earlier–with the flour fights when you’re making pizza. We made some ravioli from homemade pasta not so long ago and my daughter came in, she wanted to help which was great, and just to jazz it up a bit, we’ve got an Olaf cookie cutter. So we made ravioli that was Olaf-shaped and she thought it was amazing. There are so many little things you can do, but it’s almost going down to what they want. Don’t push them into it; let them come to you and they will want to get involved more.

Darren: I agree. I think kids are naturally inquisitive and when you just do what you do, you are this classic role model and if it’s stuff that they’re interested in, it’s a little bit creative, they naturally want to get involved. I’ve found this with fitness and my two boys. I do push them a little bit now because the eldest one is getting towards 13 years old and he’s becoming a little bit “not wanting to be so active.” But in their younger years, because dad was doing running, swimming and cycling, they wanted to get involved, they wanted to come and train. So it is just leading by example, I feel, is the best way to get involved.

Like you said, cooking as a process is very creative anyway and kids love it when you get them involved as opposed to telling them you can’t use a knife, that’s too dangerous or you can’t do that, that’s going to be messy. Like you say, just relax a little bit and allow them to get involved and give them that really needed life skill.

Ian: It is. And let them have a little bit of freedom as well. They can learn so much by watching us but they really need to do it themselves. Like knives, like stirring hotpots. As long as you’re monitoring them and you’re keeping an eye, let them be as involved as they want to be.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a great point. So we’ve talked about fitness in the past, you and I, and obviously now I think the fitness world has gone online crazy. Every man and his gym are doing online fitness sessions but obviously we can’t necessarily keep to our traditional fitness routine. What are you managing to do during this lockdown period? You told me that you’d signed up for a triathlon; obviously that’s not taking place, but what are you doing during this period?

Ian: The triathlon isn’t taking place. I was also signed up for a 10K that’s been cancelled. Again, I’ve adapted. Training, I do it when I can, we’ve had to adapt. If I want to go for a run, sometimes the kids will cycle next to me. They always did this anyway, but we utilise it as part of a going out for the day or for an hour a day, so we do that. We go for walks, we walk four miles and we can do that in just about an hour. So I’m still keeping a level of fitness, but I have had to adapt it and I’ve seen a couple of your YouTube videos that I use, I will go out in my garden, I’ve cleared my lounge a little bit so I can do some stuff. 

And moving on, I’m looking to keep it going like that. It’s great for the kids because that gets them being active. For example, with the 10K I was supposed to do at the end of this month, the guys that I was going to do it with, we’ve all decided we’re still going to do our 10K on the day, we’re going to do it separately, and we’re going to share our Stravas. So we can still do it and I’m almost looking at it as a chance to get a PB as well because in a normal race, you never get a PB, there’s too many people. This could be a chance to train to get my best 10K I’ve done and at my aged, I’ll be quite chuffed.

Darren: I think that is a fantastic way to reframe it. It’s important and this comes back to what you said earlier on about being adaptable, isn’t it? It’s not a case of just throwing your hands in the air and saying, well, I can’t do that now. It’s a case of saying, well, what can I do? How can I keep going or how can I adapt and how can I learn something different? Because there’s so many different elements of fitness that you can do, from endurance to aerobic, to stretching, functional mobility. There’s so much that we can do. And so, yeah, I think that’s a great approach.

Ian: With the family, the stuff we’re doing indoors or in the garden, we can do it together. It’s actually hilarious when there’s four of us all trying to do star jumps and just bumping into each other. It makes it interesting and it keeps us going. I think the key thing for me is, yes, we are in a lockdown situation. However, that doesn’t mean I have to sit on the sofa, eating, drinking and watching Netflix.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I think now is the time to really try and understand how you can do things differently because then when we return to whatever will be normal, you can then take what you’ve learnt and you can adapt that. Like I said at the beginning, I truly believe that the people that do that will come out of this in a much better way. They will have developed as people, as families, and I truly believe that health and fitness will become a lot more prevalent in people’s lives.

Ian: Definitely, yeah. I think now is the time as well to do that as a family and we can move forward as a family. And this lockdown will end at some point, but there will be key values. And maybe dads and their kids can go out for a run every Sunday together and that can continue whenever we’re allowed to do that.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely, mate. Before we finish then, Ian, to sum up, what five key actions can listeners take to help them create some delicious dinners for the entire family?

Ian: Firstly, I think we’ve said this quite a lot but be creative. Look in your cupboards, look what you’ve got in there, think a little bit further than you would normally, think of risotto, think of homemade pies, what you can add to them. Don’t necessarily follow strict recipes. If you want a base for a chicken pie but you haven’t got everything else, adapt to it. Chuck some potatoes in there, chuck some carrots in there instead. 

Also, there’s so many other ways we can cook and this is the time to learn to use those. Like for example, a slow cooker. You and your kids could chuck loads of ingredients in it in the morning, get on with the day, and when it’s dinner time, it’s ready. And learn new skills. 

The third one I would say, again, it’s another way of cooking but try and make it simple because that will make your life easier, but it will also want the kids to get involved. There’s a few on my website but one-tray bakes, if you like, where you can maybe chuck some drumsticks in it, chuck some veg like peppers or onions, potatoes, courgettes, put some herbs over it and chuck it in the oven. Half an hour later, 45 minutes later, you’ve got a really healthy simple meal. 

Again, kids are going to want junk food occasionally so let them have it but make homemade burgers, you know what goes into that. You can make it with pork meat, you can make it with beef mince. Homemade pizzas. Homemade fish fingers. If you’ve got frozen white fish in the freezer, get some out, cut them into fish finger shapes, put breadcrumbs on them. You don’t even have to deep fry them. For example, when you’re making your breadcrumbs, add a little bit of oil when you’re blitzing it up and you can oven bake them. Yes, they’re not brilliantly healthy but they’re healthier.  

Finally, I think things like vegetables that look like they’re going to go out of date, blanch them, freeze them and you can use them in a week’s time. 

Darren: Yeah, it’s so simple, the stuff that you’ve mentioned there, but it is really so effective and I highly recommend people listening try and implement at least two or three of those into their mealtimes or meal prep or planning. 

Ian, before we wrap it up, what didn’t I ask you that you feel that I should have asked you which would benefit the listeners? 

Ian: I think to be honest, we covered quite a lot of what I’ve made notes on about this and I think the best thing to do, obviously stay safe and adapt. Adapt to the situation we’re in, whether that’s on a fitness side, whether that’s on a nutrition side. Think about what the week coming is, and plan for that for meals. The hardest thing I’m finding is getting that routine and about the snacks the kids are eating and I’m really concentrating on coming up with new healthier snack ideas, because I don’t want them eating eight Kit Kats a day each. And I think for me, that’s the most important part. It’s the snacks. Dinner times tend to be relatively healthy if you stick up the processed stuff, so cook food fresh and let’s get some healthy snacks for the kids. Like you say, nuts, there’s oats, there’s so much we can do, even homemade spring rolls. 

Darren: Yeah, perfect. That’s amazing, Ian. I really appreciate you coming onto the show today.

Ian: Thank you for inviting me.

Darren: That’s all right. For the people listening, how can they connect with you? What’s your web address, your socials and all the rest of it?

Ian: My web addresses DadsDeliciousDinners.co.uk, you can find me on Instagram @DadsDeliciousDinners, Facebook @DadsDeliciousDinners. And if you want what I think is the funny me, you can find me on Twitter @Dads_Dinners.

Darren: Perfect, Ian. I’ll definitely check you out. I’ve not checked you out on Twitter, but I’ll check you out. I really appreciate your time today, I really appreciate the information and advice that you’ve shared with the listeners. Please, during these crazy times, stay safe, stay active, and I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Ian: Indeed, and same to you.

Darren: Take care.

Ian: Take care.

Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the links mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at FitterHealthierDad.com.