Interview with Germany’s most famous recipe developersINTERVIEW WITH GERMANY’S MOST FAMOUS RECIPE DEVELOPERS

How do families manage to build up and maintain good meal routines in these times of home offices and remote working?

In principle, working from home gives you a great opportunity for more family mealtimes. However, you do have to agree and plan meals as a family. The most successful approach is this:

Step one: reconcile diaries with timetables to work out the best times to eat together.

Step two: answer the question “What’s for dinner today?” As you’re not heading off to the canteen, you need to find other creative solutions. A weekly menu plan can help here. You can all sit down together at the weekend to discuss what you’re going to eat over the next few days. This gives everyone a chance to express their wishes and there’s plenty of time to do the food shopping at the weekend. You could even get some of the meals ready in advance (meal prep).

But that doesn’t automatically mean you have to be on kitchen duty every day from now on. It’s absolutely fine to include “We’re going out for lunch today” on your weekly schedule. Look in the farmers’ markets or the fresh food counter at the supermarket, where you will often find healthy ready meals to fall back on if you don’t fancy wielding a chef’s knife yourself.

Even if you don’t always have time for meal prep: what do you think are the most important aspects of healthy eating for the whole family?

Unfortunately healthy eating doesn’t just happen in our experience – you have to plan it. But that applies to all healthy habits. Exercise, relaxation and getting enough sleep, the other pillars of a healthy lifestyle, aren’t automatic either, you need to prepare and engage actively with them. 

The meal prep principle makes healthy eating so much easier: just like a restaurant kitchen, you prepare ingredients in advance – and then all you have to do is cook the meals. You can save a lot of time doing this. For instance you could make a pasta bake the night before and put it in the fridge. Then all you’ve got to do is put it in the oven and your lunch will be ready as soon as your online meeting is finished. With snacks especially it’s always a good idea to have something healthy to hand, such as crudités with a protein-based dip. You can offer children something like this while they wait for dinner to be ready. 

We always keep a few freezer meals in case of emergency, so all you have to do is heat them up. For instance if we make pizza we always make extra to freeze. Then we’ve got our own frozen pizza. In emergencies we can add our favourite topping – or whatever we happen to have – and pop it in the oven. But there are also frozen ready meals. We suggest vegetable-based dishes, with which you can boil up a portion of carbs (rice, potatoes, millet, couscous etc.). That saves time and puts a healthy meal on your plate. But make sure you look carefully at the ingredients and nutritional values. Depending on manufacturer the vegetarian meals aren’t necessarily as healthy as they seem at first glance. Sugar, salt and additives need to be low for the meal to be healthy. 

Are there any standard recipes you could recommend, or that you regularly fall back on yourselves when you need to put a healthy lunch on the table quickly?

Couscous is the perfect fast food: just pour hot water over it, leave it to soak, and that’s it. Add some antipasti vegetables, salad ingredients such as tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and a protein component like feta cheese, strips of chicken breast or a fried egg, and you can put a balanced meal on your plate in an instant. Soups can be ready in a flash as well, especially with a little help from the freezer. It only takes around 15 minutes to make vegetable noodle soup, for which you need your favourite soup noodles, vegetable stock, a tin of haricot beans and frozen Mediterranean veg – cover the ingredients with water, bring to the boil and cook until noodles are ready. Then add pesto and grated Parmesan to taste: that’s all you have to do for a quick lunch. By the way – kids love it even more with a few sausages bobbing about in the soup :-)

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