Food & Drink

James St recipes: Simple family favourites to get the kids cooking

Macaroni Cheese
Macaroni Cheese

If like me you are a working parent with a busy schedule, it is a great idea to teach your kids a few staple recipes to replicate at home or have some pre-prepared meals in the freezer for them to heat up.

The first recipes, macaroni cheese is a go-to-favourite in our house – it’s quick and simple, uses ingredients that you likely already have in the cupboard and most of all, the kids love cooking and eating it. 

The second of this week’s recipes is a meat sauce, which when made at home, we always make extra for the freezer. 

This sauce uses minimal ingredients and is always much tastier and fresher than any shop-bought sauce. I recommend portioning it up before popping it into the freezer and using it to accompany a delicious pasta when needed – making dinner time a little more convenient. 

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(Serves 4)

400g macaroni pasta

For the sauce:

800ml milk

½ onion, finely chopped

50g butter

50g plain flour

300g mature cheddar cheese, grated

400ml double cream

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

75g parmesan, grated

Salt and pepper to season


Place the milk and onion in a saucepan and bring to the boil,

In a second saucepan, add the butter and melt. Next, add in the flour and mix until smooth. Once smooth, add in the boiled milk slowly and mix vigorously to smooth out any lumps. Keep stirring and bring to a boil.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, add in the cheddar cheese and stir in the cream and mustard. In a separate pot, add pasta and boiling water and cook it before al dente, as it will cook further when placed in oven. Remove the pasta from the water and mix with the cheese sauce. Next, place in an oven-proof dish, top with grated parmesan cheese and bake at 180C until the top is golden. 

Meat Sauce
Meat Sauce


(Serves 6)

1 onion, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

40g butter

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

350g lean minced beef


8 tbsp milk

1 pinch nutmeg

20g picked thyme

400g tinned tomatoes with juice


To start, place the chopped onion with the oil and butter in a deep pot and sauté over medium heat until translucent.

Next, add the celery and carrot and cook for two minutes. 

Add the mince beef and crumble with a fork to break it up.

Next, add a pinch of salt, but be careful not to over season as you will likely serve this with parmesan which is also incredibly salty.

Add the milk, nutmeg and thyme and cook until evaporated, stirring thoroughly. 

Next, add in the tomatoes and when they start to bubble, turn the heat down and cook on a gentle heat for three to three-and-a-half hours.

Taking time to cook the sauce makes the difference between a good and bad meat sauce. 

I have purposely not called this Bolognese as I always blend mine with a stick blender to get a fine texture which tends to coat the spaghetti better.

I usually make a large batch and freeze to use in variations of spaghetti and meat sauce, lasagna, and by adding kidney beans and more chopped tomatoes, it can be used to make a chili.