Back to school menu to kickstart kids' day

Yummy porridge with a twist to fill tiny tummies

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
Zola Nene's iphalishi with roasted plums.
Zola Nene's iphalishi with roasted plums.
Image: Supplied

The time has come for schools to reopen and with the coronavirus pandemic keeping us in its grips for another year, school can become a source of stress for kids and parents alike. So whether your children will be learning virtually or physically going to school here is a simple back to school menu to help brighten up their day.


A fun, yummy breakfast can set the mood for the rest of the day. Award-winning chef Zola Nene makes use of plums in ipalishi (maize meal porridge) for a pretty and nutritious breakfast. Plums are in season in SA from November to April and they’re grown mainly in the Western Cape. This recipe and other recipes for stone fruit such as nectarines and peaches can be found on 

Iphalishi with Roasted Plums


For the plums:

4 ripe plums, halved

1 tbsp juniper berries

2 star anise

4 tbsp honey

1/4 cup water

For iphalishi:

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1 cup maize meal


Preheat oven to 180̊ c

Place halved plums, juniper, star anise and water into a roasting dish, drizzle with honey, then cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes.

Remove foil, baste plums with the liquid, then return to the oven to roast for another 20 minutes.

Place the water and salt into a pot and bring to the boil.

Mix together the milk and maize meal to make a slurry.

Once water is boiling, whisk in the maize meal slurry, then bring to a simmer.

Cover and allow to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

A fancy sandwich for your teens:   

Chef Charne Wylie, from Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Pretoria campus gave us a recipe for a very popular sandwich in Japan. The Katsu Sando, which consists of crumbed pork (or beef), deep fried and drizzled with tonkatsu sauce and sandwiched, along with thinly shredded cabbage, between two slices of lightly toasted white bread.

Whether you’ll use this as incentive to get them to do their homework or just to surprise them with your sandwich-making abilities or make it just for yourself, is up to you. We have changed one of the ingredients in this recipe, the Japanese sweet wine (mirin) needed to make the tonkatsu sauce and changed it to sweetened rice vinegar, which can be found at your nearest Asian supermarkert.

Katsu Sando, a Japanese sandwich
Katsu Sando, a Japanese sandwich
Image: Supplied

Katsu Sando


2 slices white bread, lightly toasted

½ tbsp margarine

¼ tsp mustard

1 piece pork or beef brisket

pinch of salt and pepper

½ tbsp Japanese mayonnaise

1½ tbsp water

1 tbsp plain flour

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

vegetable oil for frying

1 tbsp tonkatsu sauce*

½ cup shredded cabbage


Combine the mayonnaise, margarine and mustard in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the pork or beef on a chopping board and tenderise with a mallet. Shape the meat to the same size as the bread slice. Season meat with salt and pepper. Combine the egg and water in a medium mixing bowl and whisk. Add flour and mix them all together to make a batter. Dip the meat into the batter then coat in the breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the meat for about 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Spread the margarine, mayonnaise and mustard mixture thinly and evenly on both slices of the toasted bread. Place ½ cup of shredded cabbage on one slice. Drizzle the tonkatsu sauce generously on top then cover with the meat. Drizzle more sauce on top of the meat and cover with the second slice of bread. Put a flat plate over the bread and place a weight on top for 5 minutes so bread soaks up the sauce. Remove plate, cut in half and tuck in!

* To make tonkatsu sauce, mix 8 tbsp tomato sauce, 2 tbsp soya sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp sweetened rice vinegar 1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 minced clove garlic. Whisk and then let flavours blend for 30 minutes before use.

Quick and convenient for those busy days:  

For days when you can’t make anything due to your busy schedules, you’ll be happy to know that frozen food aficionados UCOOK launched a kids frozen meal range in November. The company worked with paediatric dietician Kath Megaw on the meals. The range has six kids meals, among them is Kids Beef Rump Bites and Root Veg Mash and Mushroom Bites and Root Veggie Mash.

Megaw also imparted some tips to help parents of fussy eaters, top of the tips was a reminder to parents not to get frustrated; to make the preparation of food and eating time fun.

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