Bake Off star Crystelle Pereira's tasty five-day menu for quick after-school dinners

Are you looking for something quick to prepare for after-school dinners?

With most children returning to school next week, parents up and down the country will be searching for ideas for tasty – and quick – after-school dinners.

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As part of our Back to School digital issue guest-edited by Alesha Dixon, we spoke to Great British Bake Off finalist Crystelle Pereira, who has created a fantastic five-day plan, exclusive to HELLO!, to help you stay at the top of your game – all using leftovers and ingredients you’ll already have knocking around in the store cupboard.

These ideas will not only be loved by children, but adults too!

Crystelle Pereira has shared this amazing five-day menu

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Crystelle's top tips for parents who don't enjoy meal prepping:

Invest in a decent chef's knife

"I think one of the most daunting things about meal prepping is the amount of chopping. So, a top tip which may not seem like a lot, is to invest in a really good chef’s knife. I can't tell you how much easier my life has become since using a really good knife (in comparison to a small tomato knife that I used for everything). It makes the prepping process so much faster."

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Declutter your kitchen

"My dad also always taught me that a, 'clear desk = clear mind'. Make sure your kitchen is clean and clear before you start. Trying to cook in a cluttered or messy kitchen can make the whole process seem very chaotic, but when you have a clear space to place out your bowls and ingredients, everything becomes much more organised and enjoyable."

Get your children involved

"As long as they stay away from any sharp utensils and direct heat, meal prepping is definitely something that you can involve the kids with. Even if it's just crumbling feta into a bowl, or mixing a salad dressing together, it becomes a family activity."

Create a music playlist

"Lastly - put on a good playlist. Having your favourite music playing in the background will make the process so much more fun. I always cook with a playlist on in the background, without fail!"

Crystelle shares her best ideas

Crystelle has revealed some amazing ways parents can zhuzh things up for kids. For example, mixing and matching cupboard staples!

"Always think about flavour and texture which, for me, are the most important part of any dish, and are what keep dishes exciting and interesting," she explains. "For flavour, go to your store cupboard and make the most out of any jar or bottle of sauce you have. Things like pesto, sriracha, flavoured oils, tabasco or mustard, for example, which are all so versatile.

"You can add pesto to your salmon before it goes in the oven, or mix mustard with honey and olive oil for a quick salad dressing. If you're making a sandwich, mix some sriracha with mayo and spread that on your bread. Really utilise all of those ingredients in any way you can!"

But that's not all, ingredients such as nuts and seeds can go a long way. The TV star adds: "For texture: if you're making a salad, try and garnish it with something crunchy like nuts, seeds or some finely chopped raw carrots.

"In a sandwich, add some crunchy lettuce and some fresh herbs along with some slices of grilled chicken for a real mix of textures and fresh flavours. If you're making pasta, you can add some breadcrumbs tossed in a bit of oil, dried herbs and parmesan for a bit of crunch!"

To find out more about Crystelle and her amazing recipe ideas, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Crystelle is also working on her first cookbook, to be released next spring, which can be pre-ordered on Waterstones and Amazon from September.

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