There's so much more to the festive season than just one big lunch. We've got recipe collections a-plenty for the food-centred celebrations on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve – but what to do in between?


Amid friends and family dropping in and routines going off course, children still need their three meals a day – and you need time to entertain them.

Help is at hand! We've put together 10 simple recipes that'll keep your family on track with make-ahead dishes, batch and slow cook time-savers, plus a crafty kitchen activity to keep kids entertained while you crack on.

1. Slow cooker pork shoulder

A two-step recipe that feeds up to eight, this pork joint couldn't be easier if you're catering for a crowd, and the simple flavours will be popular with kids and adults alike. Slow cooking the meat makes it succulently tender. Try serving with warm new potatoes tossed in mayo, a green salad and fresh rolls. Tuck into more family slow cooker recipes.

2. Roast salmon with chermoula

When the pressure's on, forget about plating up individual portions. Try this side of salmon that'll feed six, and take it straight to the table with a bowl of rice and your kids' favourite veg. The herby sauce can be prepped in advance and the whole meal is on the table in 30 minutes. Keep the chermoula on the side to appease any picky little eaters. Feeding a crowd? Times it by two and, if there's any left, serve it cold the next day.For variety, check out more family fish recipes.

3. Slow cooker chicken tikka masala

Heading out for a winter walk with your family? Get this chicken curry on the go so you have a meal to greet you on your return. There are instructions for the hob or oven, too, and it's freezable as well. This flexible dish tastes just as good if you go easy on the spice.Try more slow cooker curry recipes.

4. Turkey minestrone

In the days following Christmas, a little simplicity is all we crave – lighter food, less washing up and some way of getting through all the leftovers. Turkey minestrone can be adapted to use up the veg you have (or the veg you know your little ones will eat!). Add beans and orzo pasta to ensure it's filling enough for a complete meal for six expectant mouths.Clever ways to use up Christmas leftovers.

5. Campfire smoky bean brekkie

Don't let the name fool you – we love this scrumptious one-pan winter warmer when we're cooking for eight to 10 people. Chorizo, chipolatas, beans and eggs make for a comforting brunch, lunch or supper that works for all ages. Bring it to the table in the pan, serve with a stack of plates and chunks of crusty bread and let the family dig in.Avoid the washing up with these one-pan recipes.

6. Rainbow pizzas

There's a halfway house between takeaway pizza and making your own dough, which may be exactly what you need when you've got a house full of children and not much time to spare. Have shop-bought pizza bases at the ready, get out a selection of toppings (you can raid the fridge for ham, peppers and anything else the family might like), then let the kids top their pizzas. That's dinner taken care of.More recipes kids can help with.

7. Mince & pea pie

You can't go wrong with the familiar flavours of our mince & pea pies, which can be made in individual portions. They take 20 minutes of prep time, plus 20 minutes while you simmer the filling. Once that's done, cover with pastry and freeze for a speedy meal when you need it. To cook from frozen, just add 20 minutes to the oven time. Dinner is served!Discover more freezable family recipes.

8. Creamy lentil & veggie curry

Christmas can topple even the most committed of carnivores, making this vegetarian curry a welcome respite for your stomach. Choosing meat-free meals with filling ingredients like lentils can save the pennies at an expensive time of year. Swap Madras for mild curry powder to please delicate palates. The recipe is easily doubled and it's freezable, too. Find more family-friendly vegetarian recipes.

9. Sweet potato with sausage meatball marinara

Simple and hearty, this meatball-filled jacket potato is guaranteed to satisfy on a cold night. The recipe is for two, but you can easily double or triple it (or more!) to feed all your guests. Tomatoes, oregano and meatballs are a surefire hit with kids, and the fennel and chilli can easily be left out if that's a step too far.Love a spud? Try these baked potato recipes.

10. Gingerbread people

If you know you'll be busy in the kitchen, whip up a quick batch or two of these gingerbread people the night before – they'll help keep kids entertained when you've got your hands full. Sit them at the kitchen table with a tray each and a selection of different icing colours, sprinkles and sweet toppings so they feel inspired to get (and stay!) creative, buying you the time you need to get the cooking done.

Take a look at our Christmas for kids recipe collection.

Love these recipes? Try other family meal ideas...

Easy winter family meals
Quick & healthy family meals
The best freezable family meals


What are your favourite family recipes at Christmas? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post