Half term was much anticipated in our house as it gave us the opportunity to go and visit Chloe at University. It has been five long weeks since we last saw her and although we speak most days – it is not the same as having a coffee and chat together in person.
Over the recent weeks, many of our conversations have revolved around food and especially how to cook the meals that she has been missing. Chloe is playing lots of hockey at Plymouth and made the 1st team which was her goal. This means that she is training five or six days a week and needs to eat well. She is not a microwave meal type of teenager and much prefers home cooked dishes. She was rather pleased to have made a bolognese one day but was bored of eating it four days in a row as she had made too much! It seems that cooking for one is not as easy as she would have liked!
Before Chloe headed off to freshers week we worked with the Co-op on a campaign which aimed to teach freshers how to cook healthy and nutritious meals on a budget. The Co-op also helped us have a lovely family meal together before she left, you can read about it here if you missed it the first time around >>> Leaving meals and University Preparation <<<.
To follow up, they suggested we surprise and cook another family meal on our first visit to Chloe in halls. It was a rather emotional reunion, especially for Erin, who at 8 years old is really missing her big sister. Once again I vlogged some of our visit and you can see the fun we had.
Chloe’s kitchen is actually a well-equipped kitchen complete with a decent oven, microwave and a nice table to eat at. On our visit I knew that I also wanted to stock up her freezer with some homemade treats that she can eat as required. One of our family staples is filled jacket potatoes and when looking at MOB kitchen for inspiration I was pleased to see cheesy pancetta potatoes on there. These are really filling and can be cooked and then frozen. Served up with baked beans they are really cheap but also tasty and good for you. I spent the day before visiting Chloe in my kitchen whipping up eight half potatoes, however, I can confirm only six made it down to Chloe as Dylan insisted on two for his dinner! Whilst I was cooking Dyl kept asking why I was making things for Chloe and that she should be doing it for herself! I have promised to remind him of this when he is a fresher!!
In addition to the meal I had prepared at home, I made us a yummy vegan chocolate chilli. I made an abundance so that there was enough left over to be frozen for another meal another day. I opted to make a vegan dish as I wanted to show Chloe that there are plenty of meat-free alternatives and that this can be a cheaper way of eating. If she aims to eat meat-free a couple of times a week she should notice a difference in her weekly food budget.
I find one pot meals are perfect meals for students who may not have all the pots and pans and who certainly don’t want lots of washing up. The chilli is ideal for this reason.
This is a really simple meal, we chopped up the onion, peppers and had it all softening in the pan. Then we added the tinned tomatoes and the Tofu. Whilst it all just sizzled and thickened up together we caught up with life around the table.
The final ingredient is the adding of the chocolate and I was interested to see how this would enhance the meal. It melted in and once dished up we could really taste it, it gives it a really rich intense flavour, what a great addition to the chilli. Chloe really enjoyed her family meal and it has given her more ideas of what meals she can afford to make that are super tasty and also healthy.
Once we had eaten we spent time as a family hanging out. The weather was on our side and we actually were able to sit in the sun down at the Hoe. Erin and Chloe also both paddled in the sea, which is rather unheard of for October! However, it was these little things that really made our visit special.
Chloe has really settled well into University life and has made lots of friends both on her course, in her halls and of course on the hockey pitch. Seeing her become more independent is wonderful and although I miss her greatly I super proud of how she has adapted and settled into her new venture. She just needs to keep working on her repertoire of meals and who knows maybe next time she will be cooking me a meal!
We would like to thank the Co-op for bringing us together and encouraging us to share some family time do follow @Co-opukfood for more food and meal ideas.
Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid project with The Co-op and BritMums to get students cooking and eating healthy meals sponsored by The Co-op. Visit https://food.coop.co.uk/ to plan a meal that brings your family together!