Top Ten Meals to Cook for your Host Children

Au pairs are often asked to assist their host family in cooking an evening meal for the children. Basic cooking skills can be expected but we recommend that families put some time aside at the beginning of the placement to go through a few of the children’s favourite recipes with the au pair to make sure they have got the hang of it.

We asked our au pairs what evening meals go down best in their household. Here are the top ten responses!

“My host children love cooking. Together we make a great spaghetti bolognese. Italian food is their favourite” – Mathilde, French, au pair in London

Pasta and pesto with sausages. Really simple to make and tastes really good”Elin, Swedish, au pair in Hertfordshire

Jacket Potato with Baked Beans & Cheese is easy to make and my host kids loved it”Tamara, Austrian, former au pair in Oxfordshire

Gemma, a Spanish au pair in Surrey sent us this photo of a quiche that her host children enjoyed:

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“My kids love pasta with mushroom sauce, homemade pizza, fish gratin with vegetables and also chilli (with a twist):

Cinnamon Chilli

  • 500g mince
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tins tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Fry the garlic and onion and add the mince until it’s done
  2. Add tomatoes and cinnamon and season with salt & pepper (and other spices if you want to)
  3. Simmer for at least 30 minutes (but longer is better)
  4. Add the beans about 30 minutes before serving
  5. Serve with bread, rice or a jacket potato (and maybe some natural yoghurt and guacamole)”

Carina, German, au pair in Kent

 “We like to cook fajitas on Friday nights. We cook the chicken with peppers, onions and spices and then serve with lots of little dishes of grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, lettuce and tomatoes” – Diana, Italian, au pair in Surrey

“A really simple meal is pasta bake. I make a tuna and sweetcorn one with melted cheese on top and the boys always eat it all!” – Maartje, Dutch, au pair in London

“When we have enough time in the evening, we make pizzas together. The kids like to get involved. We use tomato puree on the base and choose from toppings including chicken, peppers, onion, mushroom, ham, pepperoni and cheese”Hannah, Australian, au pair in London

 
“My kids love roasts and it’s actually quite easy to prepare it just takes some time. My host dad told me the trick to put a ‘butter paper’ (the paper that the Butter is wrapped in when you buy it) on Top of the chicken. This keeps the chicken juicy and prevents the Skin from getting burned. You put the chicken in the oven for about two hours. About 30 min before you take the chicken out, you take off the paper, so the skin can crisp up. 
You can also put some whole potatoes on the tray with the chicken so you get baked potatoes. Or you Cut them in wedges, in half, … But they need less time than the chicken itself, so you need to time it right 🙂
You can use any vegetable your kids like. My host children’s favourites are runner beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower… I simply boil these or just roast them as well. (Sliced and roasted carrots and parsnip are great).
I serve the food with gravy which I make from granules 🙂 “
Alina, German, au pair in Hampshire

“Today I made a cheesy cauliflower and pasta bake for the second time and the girls loved it”Laura, German, au pair in Surrey

We have lots more ideas for simple meals on our Pinterest page and in our Au Pair Guide which is sent to all Smartaupairs prior to travel.

Happy Cooking!

Tuuli & Chloe from Smartaupairs visit Partners in Holland & Germany

Tuuli & Chloe, the head consultants from Smartaupairs visited some of our top Dutch and German partner agencies over the course of Wednesday – Friday last week.
What is a partner agency you might ask?
For an au pair agency like smartaupairs, a partner agency will the agency abroad whose role is to vet the au pair and to ensure correct understanding of the program, before sending the applicant profile over to us in the UK. A significant amount of work goes into applicant preparation before any potential host family will be able to see the application.
It is incredibly important for us to maintain strong relations with our partners abroad. For one, they are in the key position of vetting the au pairs. Secondly, it is important for us to be able to provide any feedback we have received from our families to the sending agencies and similarly take on board any feedback from the agency/au pair perspective. All of this is incorporated in the continued process of program review and improvement for all parties.
We really are lucky to work with such wonderful partners abroad and hope to meet many more next year!

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Results from our Au Pair Survey are in!

A member of the Smartaupairs team contacts every au pair in the very early stages of their placement to see how they are settling in. As the majority of our au pairs begin their placements in August/September, we also sent out a survey to all of them this year. The survey had some additional questions for the au pairs and allowed them to give us more specific feedback. We wanted to share the results with you…

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Firstly, a huge 94% of au pairs said that they are getting along either fantastically or very well with their new host family.

We asked our au pairs how they felt about the location of their host family and accommodation in their home. 86% of au pairs were happy with the location and 99% with their accommodation.

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Improving English is an incredibly important factor for the majority of our European au pairs. 88% said that they had already seen an improvement in their English level in the first two weeks of their placement.

As an agency, one of the most common questions we receive from au pairs already placed with their host family is how they can find friends in the area. This is something we are able to offer plenty of assistance with. In our survey, 86% of au pairs said that they had already found friends locally during their first two weeks in the UK. The other 14% were given lots of guidance as to how they can meet other people in their area!

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Finally, we asked the au pairs if they are satisfied with Smartaupairs. We are very proud that 99% of them replied that yes, they are very satisfied.

We are glad to hear that our au pairs are so happy with the program and remind them that we are here to offer support/answer questions whenever they need us!

Competition Winners Announced!

We launched two competitions during our Au Pair Introduction Day in London earlier on this month. In order to enter, au pairs were asked to send a comment or photo to summarise or represent their placement with their UK host family so far. Two prizes of £50 in Amazon vouchers were on offer and our winners are as follows…

Comment competition winner: Maartje from the Netherlands, who is currently placed in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

Maartje sent us a PowerPoint presentation to describe her placement so far, but it was the following comment in particular that we felt summarised the au pair program as a whole:

This is the house where I first arrived on Friday the 23th of August. The family did everything they could to make me feel welcome. And boy, did I feel welcome! In these first few weeks, I have been visiting London and making lots of new friends to make my stay in the UK even better! The children: this is the best part of being an au pair. Getting to spend lots of time with in my case, two beautiful young boys. We are very good at being serious but we are even better at acting silly. All of us are. Even though, they sometimes drive me crazy… this family, puts a big smile on my face! So this house is no longer my host family’s house, it’s our house now. It’s a place I call my home’.

Maartje's host family gave her a very warm welcome!
Maartje’s host family gave her a very warm welcome!

Photo competition winner:  Lena from Germany, who is currently placed in Fleet, Hampshire.

Lena sent us quite a few photos of her day out in London but this one was our favourite. A photo with the iconic red telephone box is a ‘must have’ for all au pairs 🙂

The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena
The winning photo entry by German au pair Lena

Congratulations to both girls and thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Here are some further excellent entries that we received:

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Anhang 6

If you would like to share your experiences of the au pair program at any time, please contact us on aupairs@smartaupairs.com. We love to hear your stories!

My Au Pair Experience in the UK

Tabitha from Germany joined host family in Essex in September and has been reflecting on her placement as it comes to an end. She wanted to share with us the positive experiences, as well as the challenges she faced during her placement.

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“All in one I find that, being an AuPair was the hardest and the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.

 

It was hard to leave my family, friends and boyfriend behind, to live in another country with another language. I came in this really nice family, who made me part of their family and now I have got a family in Great Britain. We had our bad days, but I really appreciate that they have always been there for me and that they taught me so much.

 

When I just came I looked only after one child. She wasn´t easy to manage in the first few weeks, but we got to know each other and now I´m really feeling sad to leave her.

 

I got to know my host mother. She was so nice to me and she became a really good friend of mine. I went with her to a lot of pregnancy courses and she also took me to some parties, what I found really great. Especially that one Indian party for Diwali. For that , my host mum put me in one of her old Indian costumes. I will never forget that day, there was Indian dance, Indian food and everyone had to take their shoes off, what I found was really strange. Also we had always our little, colourful lunches and our nice talks. Now I can talk about everything with her and I´m really going miss her so much.

 

When the baby was born I had to do so many things, that I had to grow up over night. My host mother gave me a lot of guidelines, which helped, but it was still exhausting to manage and organize everything. My host family let me go home to spend Christmas with my family as a treat. That was so great, but it was so hard to leave my family a second time and when I was back it was worse than in the beginning. In March it got easier, my host mum was recovered, the baby was sleeping and feeding went well and my family came to visit me in London. Also everyone got enough sleep.

 

The last two months were the best of the whole time. Finally it got warmer and the children grew more and more. I´m really looking forward to go home, but I can´t be really happy about that, because I will miss my family. I still don´t know how to say goodbye. The girls mean a lot to me, and also my host parents. All these times when we had nice evenings together, or when we just talked while we had dinner.

 

Also they taught me so much about healthy living and healthy food. I learned so many new recipes. We had a big variety of food. Nearly every day we had a different type of food. We had British, Indian, American, Thai, Italian and in the end eventually German. So I learned how to cook of all different types of food. And I couldn´t cook very well before, so my host mum had to be really patient with me, because I needed time to learn and there was once, that I let the garlic burn. Also I learned some Indian cooking from the childrens grandmother and from the cleaner.

 

With the different types of food I also learned much about the Indian, American and British culture. So I celebrated my first Diwali, the festival of lights, with them. We went to “Nanny´s” house and had lots of nice, fresh, Indian food. There were some more family celebrations, like birthdays, or for example when my host mum´s sister came from America. So they took me often to “Nanny´s” house, like I´m allowed to call her. That is another thing, I really appreciate, that I can call the children’s grandmother “Nanny”. One day she just came to me and said, she is Nanny, I can call her Nanny. I was so surprised, because I always had this thought in my head, that I´m just “the Au Pair”.

 

But I was more than just the Au Pair. For a long time, I thought it would be politeness, when my host mum introduced me as her friend instead of her Au Pair. Or when she made me tea, or all the times when we shared a drink and we had our “movie night” on Friday. Then when baby was born, I was just too exhausted to see, to realize how much I might mean for them. Now I can see. All that time, I was more than just the Au Pair. And to know that, is more than I ever thought would happen. I mean it is actually a part of the Au Pair program, but still, not everyone does this. Some families wouldn´t do that, and so I’m really grateful, that I could be part of a really nice family.

 

I´m very grateful for all, what my family taught me. I will never forget that important part of my life and I´m so glad, that I could shared it with my new British/American/Indian family. They will now always be a part of my life, because they taught me just so much, what will go along with me in my life.

 

I really hope, that we can stay in contact and can visit each other so I´m able to see, how the girls grow up.”

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If you would like to consider becoming/hosting an au pair, we can help! Contact us on 0800 917 8166 or info@smartaupairs.com.

Testimonials from Host Families

This is a lovely time of year for us, as we hear so many fantastic stories from families and au pairs who are parting ways after spending a year together. Many host families are also confirming their new au pairs in time for the summer or next academic year.

We would like to share with you some of the wonderful feedback we have received over the last few days.

The Clifton family is a long term client of Smartaupairs. They live in Kent and have had Spanish, German and Swiss au pairs through our agency:

“I have been using Smartaupairs for several years now and every year proved successful thanks to the Smartaupairs team’s diligence and kindness.


Thanks to them, the process of finding the “right” au-pair for my family has always been fool-proof: a quick phone-call with a very helpful and supportive person at the end of the line; a few emails exchanged to finalise details and there I was with a list of pre-selected candidates.


I really enjoyed using the Smartaupairs website for its easiness of use as well as finding all the information I needed with just a few very simple clicks.


Once, I have had an emergency where my German au-pair had to go home following a bereavement. It was a stressful time for everyone in the family but thanks to Smartaupairs, some of this stress has been removed within days.


I have recommended Smartaupairs to all my friends with young children and will continue to do so in the future for the quality of service provided is exemplary.


If you looking for reliability as well as outstanding service, you are in the right place!


(by the way, I am not related to anyone in Smartaupairs, I am just a really satisfied customer!)

 

We were delighted to place the Cummings family’s first au pair with them. We understand that the search process can sometimes be daunting for first time host families so do our very best to make things simple.

 

“A huge Thank you for connecting us with three wonderful candidates.

 

We were impressed by all of them but sadly only one can be successful.

 

I can’t tell you how much less stressful our trip will be made with an extra pair of hands and how excited we are to give such a lovely young woman an opportunity to improve her level of English and taste a little slice of English life. I may be married to a French Man but I was born in Yorkshire and a ‘Yorkshire’ household I run no matter where that may be 🙂

 

Thank you again”

 

It’s great to also hear how excited au pairs are about their upcoming placement when they receive their offer from a host family. When Amelie got her confirmation this week, her German agency passed on the news. They told us:

“She is over the moon. She was actually breathless :-)“

 

For more testimonials, please see our website.

We look forward to matching lots more families and au pairs in time for the new school year!

If you are interested in hosting an au pair, please call us on 0800 917 8166, email on info@smartaupairs.com, or register on our website for a call back

Where Au Pair?

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So many au pairs like to be in a busy environment of a city or a town, as these places are generally easy to make friends with other au pairs, close to language classes and a social life. Some of the au pair favourites where we make regular placements are London & Greater London, Canterbury, Cambridge, Oxford, Bath, Brighton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, York and Harrogate.

Au pairs in the countryside or in a village usually settle very well if they have access to a car, also in their spare time, and are close to a town or city.

We also often have requests from au pairs to be in coastal towns, especially those known for good language schools such as Margate and Ramsgate. We also get requests for Hastings, Blackpool, Norfolk, trendy Brighton (again), but also the picture-postcard villages of Devon and Cornwall are popular with au pairs.

The location of the host family is often very important to an au pair, especially before arrival. We always try to explain that we try to match people, not places, but we do appreciate that the location plays a bit part, especially for some candidates.

Pictures this, a Spanish au pair, who at home can walk out of her house every evening and meet up with friends outside her front door, walk straight into town/city center and meet up with yet more young people, for example in places like our popular short break destination Barcelona, would find it hard to settle in the English countryside, where the car must be used for every journey and meetings are more likely to be planned in advance.

In general, the above applies to Spanish au pairs, Italian au pairs and Turkish au pairs the most. Also, if you have travelled to Turkey for example, you may have noticed what it would be like to live in the ‘Turkish countryside’. It is mostly empty, the main exceptions being elderly people, who continued to live in the countryside whilst the younger generation moved into town. So for a Turkish au pair, the countryside brings up pictures of old people growing vegetables, so not very appealing for an au pair experience!

In general our most flexible au pairs are our German au pairs and our Dutch au pairs. They are very open and often already speak good English. This means they are less daunted by the ‘task’ of making friends and also they tend to be confident drivers, so provided they can have use of the car, they are usually quite flexible about their location.

French au pairs from small towns, countryside or Alpine regions (!) are also usually fine with a less urban location.

We also often have au pairs who ask to be placed with a family with horses. ‘Horse au pair’ is getting more popular for girls who want to be like a live-in groom with the chance to do lots of horse riding but usually the au pairs are happiest placed in a family where they can look after children and help with the horses also. So far we placed Dutch au pairs and German au pairs with interest in horses and our Swedish au pair agency tells us that many of their candidates love riding too!

And then we have many male au pairs, also usually very flexible about the location and confident drivers. Au pair couples are mostly placed in rural locations, as these are the homes where often one au pair can help with the children and the other au pair can help in the garden and with the animals for example. They have each other for company and will be less concerned about meeting other au pairs.

Final note on location, no matter where the au pair is placed, smartaupairs will help finding au pair friends nearby. We share an online service www.aupair2aupair.com and every au pair who is placed though our service received a passport to register. This allows the au pair to search by postcode which au pairs are close and contact them to arrange a meeting. This service is shared with all member agencies from the British Au Pair Agencies Association, so we have au pairs on this service from more than 25 agencies making it a safe place to meet other au pairs, first online and then in person!