Handy Hints

Cooking tasty, healthy meals for your family doesn't need to cost you lots of time or money. Select a topic below to find out how you could make a change.

Cupboard Essentials and Meal Planning

Plan on the same day every week

Set aside a day for planning the family meals, and write out a list of ingredients using our shopping list tool. Just don't get side-tracked by all the unhealthy bargains at the supermarket.

The freezer is your friend

The freezer is your friend. Soups, chilli, stews, casseroles and potato-topped pies all freeze well.

Keep your veggie peelings for stock

Turn your vegetable peelings into vegetable stock! Store them in a bag in the freezer until you have enough, and then pulse them in a food processor. Add a teaspoon to 240mls of hot water, along with some low sodium salt, pepper and parsley to taste.

Healthier Eating

 

"Get a slow cooker. You can cook virtually anything it. Put it on before you go to work on a slow setting, and you'll have a home-cooked meal by the time you get home."

Lee

Balance the plan

Use our meal planner to balance your meals for the week. Try including meat, fish and vegetable dishes to get as much variety as possible in your diet.

Store Cupboard Essentials

If you don't have much time to cook dinner, having a few easy to grab essentials in the cupboards like tinned vegetables, beans and fish can really help. You only need a few simple ingredients to make a quick, healthy and great tasting meal. For more inspiration, check out our Recipes page!

Store Cupboard Essentials: dry food

Some essential dry foods you can keep in your cupboard include dried lentils, beans, peas, rice, noodles, oats, flour, milk powder and plain breakfast cereals. Oil, vinegar and reduced salt stock cubes are also useful things to keep handy for when you have to whip something up quickly. 

Frozen helps you plan

Buying frozen vegetables means you'll always have a few different options, and will also help you cut down on waste. Tinned fruit and veg is also a great way to store food. 

Plan around your family

When you're planning meals, don't forget to consider the evenings when your kids have classes, or your partner's working late. This will help you plan for quick dishes when you don't have much time to cook. 

Plan to prepare

When planning meals, always note whether something needs to be prepared the night before, or on the morning you're planning on cooking it. For example, you may have to take the chicken out of the freezer to allow it to defrost.

Download a meal planner

Try a weekly meal plan to make planning the week ahead easier!

Store cupboard essentials: Using herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are a great way of adding flavour to any meal, and a small amount goes a long way. Build up your collection over time, and buy from value brands to save money. 

Check the cupboards

Check what is already in your store cupboard before you go shopping, and plan what meals you can make from those ingredients.

Plan around healthy choices

Make a list of your families favourite healthy meals. Aim for about 20, and then you can pick and choose which ones you're going to prepare at the beginning of each week.

Batch cooking

"My top tip is to make meals from scratch, and then batch freeze them to save time and money. It works wonders, especially when you have a growing boy to feed!" Helen Hymers

Helen

Shop online

"To save time and money, I always plan my meals and do my shopping online. I also make sure I always have lots of fruit and veg so I'm not tempted to buy junk food!"

Elizabeth McMillan

Flexible foods

 Buying foods that can be used for several dishes gives you more flexibility to create different meals.

Get the kids involved in planning

Get the kids more involved by asking them what meals they like best. You can do this in food groups by getting them to pick out 4 pasta dishes, or 2 pizza toppings etc. Click here to use our free food lab.