I Am Solo Parenting. Send Potato Gratin.

Picture the scene:

It’s the school summer holidays. My husband is away for work. I am home with the children.

I am in the bathroom with a five year old yelling from the other side of the door “I heard you flush one minute ago! Where are you?”

I am refereeing possibly imaginary fights from the shower, trying to discern if actual injuries have occurred or if it’s hysterical laughter. I guess I can just wash my hair tomorrow instead. The kids won’t care.

I have stopped tidying away the toys in the living room at bedtime. I’ll be in bed about an hour after them.

I wonder, when I am having the exact opposite experience, do I really need to know how the staff in the hotel my husband is staying in keep asking him if he is okay, sir. And if they can do anything for him, sir.

I regret having pizza the night before he left, and chips with this cousins the next night. Now I have to feed them healthily for the rest of the week, and I keep no meals handy in the freezer because it is weeny and I need seventeen frozen bananas, ice cream, bread for toast and all that quorn.

The Reason I Can't Batch Cook
The Reason I Can’t Batch Cook

Despite doing an online shop fit for a post-nuclear apocalypse, we are out of fruit on day three, and the cereal boxes are making a hollow sound yet again. But I do have the makings of decent dinners and my mood calls for comfort food. Now, if there’s anything worse than you and your partner eating dinner listening to moans and groans of disgust from the kids, it’s eating dinner on your own listening to moans and groans of disgust from the kids. So I made the decision to go with crowd pleasers to minimise the battles during my solo parenting week.

I made a couple of variations of a Gratin Dauphinois (posh name for Potato Gratin) for our Sunday dinner, because I know the boys will eat it.;

Potato & Ham Gratin and Potato & Courgette Gratin.


  • 600g Potatoes
  • Half a courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • Some ham. Ugh, I dunno, but there was some left in the fridge and I don’t want to throw it out after all the lil’ piggy went through, so I guess a couple of thick slices of ham.
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 250 ml cream (or half cream, half milk depending on how indulgent you are feeling)


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Slice the potatoes, onion and courgette separately in a food processor if you have one, or a mandolin. My stick blenders and Nutribullet are amazing, but nothing beats hauling out the food processor for speedy skinny slicing.

Super fun whirring blades for a three year old
Super Fun Whirring Blade And A Small Helper

Dish 1: Potato & Courgette Gratin

Layer half the potato, the courgette and a bit of onion in between, seasoning with pepper as you go.

Dish 2: Potato & Ham Gratin

Build up layers the other half of the potatoes, tearing up cooked ham in between the layers (sneak in some veggies if you feel brave).

Crush 2 cloves of garlic into your cream (I did half cream, half milk) and season well.

Pour your garlicky creamy goodness over your potato dishes slowly. I like to give my dishes a gentle swirl to make sure all the ingredients get a coating.

Grate some cheese on top if your children don’t call cooked cheese ‘slime‘.

Cover your dishes and place in the oven for an hour.

Uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes to crisp up the top.

I ate mine as it was, and served the kids with raw red pepper slices. They turn their nose up at a lot of cooked veggies, but will eat juicy raw veg on the side of three meals a day. I sure ain’t complaining about that.

Eat your delicious comfort food and get those children into bed as soon as you possibly can. You’ve done it. Another day over.

Plates cleaned. Smoothie-pops!
Plates cleaned. Smoothie-pop time. I snuck chia into those too. Bam!


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