A roast dinner is never just a meal – it’s a time to see family, an opportunity to chat and a chance to make memories.
We can indulge the senses from the moment the delicious smells start wafting from the kitchen until that first tantalising mouthful hits the tastebuds.
We can step back in time too, remembering home-cooked roasts when we were kids, and recreating them for our own little ones now.
So what’s the secret to a top-notch roast dinner? Choose those ingredients carefully and sprinkle over plenty of love…
MadeForMums’ forum mums share their top tips for a brilliant family roast…
1. Make it the one meal a week you get the whole family round (gran, grandad and everyone else!)
Weekend roasts are crying out for big family gatherings. Mum Lindsey Morris incorporates a taxi service when she’s cooking! “We have a special roast dinner at least every month, where I invite my grandparents who are in their 80s,” she says.
“They are at the stage where they cannot be bothered cooking a big meal like a roast anymore now. So we pick them up and my hubby cooks, and we simply have a good old family time, enjoying each other’s company and having a good catch up.
“They absolutely adore playing and spending time with their great grandchildren, they bring them so much joy!”
Grandmother Susenne invites her family round, and loves the entertainment they provide. She says: “Whatever we roast we have Yorkshire puddings, or Yorkshire pigeons as my four-year-old granddaughter refers to them!”
Mum Wooohooo likes to do her roasts on an epic scale, cooking for 12 every Sunday. Once everyone’s eaten, she says: “We all sit in the living room… and all we do is laugh, as the banter between us all is awesome.”
2. Include lots of different potato varieties and veggies
Roast dinners are a proper chance to get our 5-a-day veggies, although mum Cat2 sees it as an opportunity to go the extra mile and go well into double figures!
She says: “Mine is the best because I do so many vegetables. Mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas, carrots, roast parsnips, red cabbage, sprouts, green beans, broccoli, roast beetroot and butternut squash, plus some extra seasonal veg like swede, leeks, asparagus and new potatoes.” Now that’s impressive!
Mum Raft likes to keep everyone happy with plenty of choice. “I try to please everyone, so I do roast potatoes and mash,” she says. “I love to have all the family round and just enjoy being together for a lovely roast!”
And Pamuk1983 has got a great tip for anyone averse to the much-maligned Brussels Sprout. “Roasted sprouts are a game changer in our Sunday dinners,” she says. “Even the most ardent sprouts hater loves our roasted sprouts.”
3. Make sure the whole family is involved in the prep work so it’s an ‘event’
We’re not gonna lie, the idea of cooking a whole roast dinner solo is a daunting prospect. But sharing is caring, so get all those bystanders involved in the chores – even if it’s only once in a blue moon!
Mum Erica Phillips has exactly the right idea. “Someone other than me cooking it!” she laughs. “Surrounded by family, and the kids doing the washing up afterwards – doesn’t happen often, but when it does, couldn’t be more perfect.”
Jenba590 agrees. “I love it that we all chip in to help in our family,” she says. “Fella does the meat and gravy, I’m in charge of veg and roasters, and my 2 boys are in charge of drinks and laying the table.
“It is a team effort when we sit down to our roast dinner together which makes it all that more special.“
4. Try a slow roast (egslow roasted leg of lamb)
In our ever–hectic lives it’s nice to slow down once in a while, and that starts with the oven.
Mum Rachel Bristow fits her kitchen prep around a busy family schedule, with the added bonus of being wallet-friendly too.
“What I love about our roast is using a really economical cut of brisket and gently cooking it for 3 hours until it almost melts. We leave it to cook while we go out swimming and do the finishing off once home.”
Succulent tender meat always goes down well with the youngest diners, as Mynellie explains. “The meat is slow cooked for tenderness so it’s easy for even the smallest of mouths to eat.”
5. Cut the cooking time with Aunt Bessie’s potatoes or Yorkshires so you’ve got more time to chat and relax
There’s no shame in taking a shortcut – especially when it means you get more quality family time.
Lynda Jones is happy to share the workload. She says: “I slow roast the beef and prepare the veg – then leave all the hard work to Aunt Bessie’s. She does the roasties and yorkies whilst I enjoy a glass of wine and time with my family.”
Pxxie admits that she stays cool, calm and collected thanks to a helping hand from the freezer. “It means I have time to be with my family and not all flustered having to prepare and cook everything from scratch,” she says. “Easy-peasy and always delicious!”
6. Take a long time over eating it so everyone can really talk and make memories
Aaaand relax. Once the food hits the table you can unwind and enjoy each other’s company. Lazy weekend afternoons mean no one’s rushing off, so take time to make it a proper get-together.
Mum Sheila Sloan says: “It’s an oasis in a busy week where the family make time to sit down together, sharing good food, camaraderie and great conversation.”
Hazel Rea agrees: “All the family sits round the table having a long chatty meal – well, you can’t eat a roast dinner quickly, can you?” She’s right!
You make memories, have a chat and a laugh – and as mum Ckeegan also reveals, the fun’s not necessarily over that day.
She tells us: “Perhaps the best part for me is sitting with my mom the next day, after all the work is done for a plate of leftovers and a good long chat.” Awwwww! Talk about mum-daughter bonding: we love it.
7. Keep it diet-friendly for everyone (whether gluten-free, Coeliac, vegan, Slimming World or anything else)
You’ve invited everyone over – but keep them all happy by ensuring special dietary requirements are factored in.
Angelwingspetlamb says she wants all her guests to have fun. “Some of my family are Coeliac so I need to make sure everything is gluten free for them to enjoy without missing out,” she says.
“I make sure the whole roast dinner is gluten free so everyone can eat everything and there is no fear of cross contamination.”
Sophie56 starts off with essentials that everyone can have, then mixes things up with menu twists for each diner. “We have vegetarians, vegans and confirmed carnivores so we try to make sure the core items like roast potatoes, and all the veg are animal free,” she says.
“Then we provide something that the vegans and vegetarians can share such as a nut roast and everyone is happy. An old tradition with a modern spin.”
8. Put the food on serving dishes so everyone can have exactly what they want (and as much of everything as they want)
There are so many delicious parts to a roast and we all have our favourites, be that Yorkshire puds, fluffy roast potatoes, or lashings of hot gravy. But one thing we can all agree on is: don’t skimp on the servings!
Mr Bez says: “What makes Sunday roast so special in our house is that we don’t hold back on the portion sizes! If we want 4 Yorkshires each then we shall.”
You might not be the biggest fan of sprouts, but there’s likely to be a veg-lover sitting next to you, so let everyone dig in how they please.
Mum Jcoopscomps says: “We set the table with the food on serving dishes in the middle so everyone can help themselves to as much as they want, no portion limits with a roast.”
9. Switch the mobiles phones off
Roast dinners with your nearest and dearest are special, so that means strictly no distractions.
Mum Claire Nutman tells us: “Because we call it our ‘Family Day’, it’s no mobile phones, no visitors or making plans. We all spend that time with each other to catch up and stay connected.”
Denice2 says it’s her favourite time of the week and she loves it. “It has to be that it gets all the family around the table,” she says. “Phones are banned and we all have a good laugh and chatter.”
10.Do one like your mum used to make them – so it’s like a tradition
Families can be spread far and wide now, and sadly loved ones are lost over the years. But recreating you mum’s special roast dinner means she’s always in your heart.
Kittyme tells us: “I have very fond memories of my mum and gran always cooking us a big family roast dinner on a Sunday. It was the best roast dinner because it was made with love and as such I have vowed to continue the family tradition.”
Mum Snack confesses she employs all her mum’s cooking wizardry. So what makes her own roast special now? “Invaluable advice and tips from my mum from her years of roast dinner making,” she says.
Mum Splodge agrees. She says: “Having always enjoyed my late mother’s roast dinners, I always apply the methods and tricks she used. From how to cook the meat, do the gravy, and roast the potatoes, I use her methods and this always results in a very tasty dinner.”
And Lanny888 says it’s a trip down memory lane every time they sit down to enjoy a Sunday roast.
“When my children were younger, and all at home, Sunday Lunch was a time to fight over who could get the most roasties, and Yorkshire puddings, and we all looked forward to it.
“Now, they are older, it seems to be more about the family tradition, and the memories that flood when we are get together to enjoy ‘Mum’s’ Sunday roast.”