• Stephanie Drax

Never Cook For Your Kids Again (And Feel Good About It)

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

“Yuck” says the older offspring as he spies dinner being dished from pot to plate. “Yuck” says the younger one when the plate is presented. “Yuck” they unison, “yuck, yuck, yuck.” If bribery doesn’t work, 15 minutes later I’m scraping my efforts into the bin. YUCKING HELL.

I’ve got shelves lined with kids’ cookbooks, stuffed with sugar-free recipes. I buy kaleidoscopic organic produce (only the best for the little darlings) and often set aside 1.5 hours to batch cook something tasty and nutritious. Homemade.

But this is a waste of food. This is a waste of time.

Hélene Piquion from Ratatouie is like the Mary Poppins of Kids Meals. Her business has been built for mums and dads for whom this story is achingly familiar. As a former Goldman Sachs investment banker with little time on her hands, Hélene was making fresh, nutritious baby food for her daughter at the crack of dawn. She realised other mums might also be underwhelmed by the baby food section of the supermarket, so she dreamed up Ratatouie.

Hélène trained in nutrition at the College of Natural Medicine and combines her French roots cooking with her expertise in "Taste Education". She delivers home-cooked, nutrient-dense meals for all the family - baby, kids & grown-ups - in stylish, recyclable glass jars (and you get money back when you return them). Each dish comes with a list of ingredients that are not only fully recognisable – no nasty E numbers here – but virtuous with vegetables. There are even healthy chocolate desserts with zero refined sugar.

“We craft all our meals from seasonal, locally sourced organic ingredients – no added salt or refined sugar, no additives or chemicals, preservatives, fillers or bulking agents. Everything is made to order," says Hélène.

Could Ratatouie really take the rigmarole out of getting healthy meals into kids? I had my two resistant gourmands road test three dishes from Ratatouie - and with surprising results.

Supercharged Mac & Cheese, £4.15 per portion

I started with a familiar dish to trick them into a false sense of security, but the kids definitely suspect something's up…

This is Mac & Cheese...
But not as we know it.

If they knew they were eating LEEKS, CAULIFLOWER, BROCCOLI, SPINACH and the dreaded CARROTS, they’d move out.

Even he has to admit it's not bad...

Helene has been a wizard to blitz the offending vegetables and smother the whole wheat pasta in creamy, cheesy goodness.

Hooray, this is not torture!

Reader, almost ALL the food was eaten.


Lamb Tagine - £12.95, for a family of four

We sat down for Sunday lunch as a family (and nobody had to COOK!). Ratatouie's lamb tagine with prunes, turnips and carrots is grown up - there are chunks of visible vegetable and soft lamb - and it comes with couscous (aka sawdust, to my kids). I added the peas as an emotional bridge to the unfamiliar.

For the Draxes, this dish has always been high on mum effort, low on kid enjoyment. I gave up on making the kids tagines eons ago (in the beginning I was adventurous, before I lost the battle/will). This was a risky choice, and I leaned back for an explosive reaction.

We had to do some negotiating on this one. Try it, leave what you don't like, there's ice cream for pudding, yada yada.

I finagled a few forkfuls into him and nobody cried (him or me) - so this is, in fact, classed as a success:

The other one was more...resistant.

But once we broke the defences, he liked it. And finished it.

New England Fish Chowder £4.45 per portion

I would never have attempted this at home. An assortment of fish and vegetables in a creamy soup?? Doomed.

With a chaser of sweetcorn, it met the mouth. The rest was firmly rejected.

Miraculously, the younger boy shovelled it in fast, with a double-spoon action.

Ratatouie: you took us all out of our comfort (food) zone, and we've got some empty plates to show for it. May the culinary journey continue...

Ratatouie delivers across England and Wales. For more info, visit: www.ratatouie.co.uk