A week of healthy & cheap family suppers

Our nutritionist has put together seven nights of healthy and seriously cheap family meals. These delicious, child-friendly recipes have been hand-picked to take into account the nutritional needs of the entire family.

Fried rice

Our seven day supper plan proves it is possible to eat well on a budget. We’ve included a balance of lean protein from meat, fish, dairy and plant foods, as well as energising carbohydrates and healthy fats, including the all-important omega-3 variety. The ingredients in our recipes are rich in important minerals for growth and development including iron, zinc and calcium, as well as nutrients that can often be lacking in our modern day diets, such as vitamin D and selenium.

It’s often difficult to get kids to eat certain foods like veggies and fibre-rich grains so these recipes use clever strategies to incorporate them. Finally, the seven day plan goes some way towards meeting the Government’s nutritional recommendations, including the recommended number of fish portions per week and contributions to your fruit and vegetable daily portions. Remember, different members of the family will have varying needs depending on their age, sex and activity levels so vary portion sizes accordingly.

Seven days of healthy suppers

*Will serve a family of four

One pan roast chicken & potatoesSunday 

One-pan roast chicken & potatoes
Cost per serving - £1.65

Chicken is an all-time family favourite. It’s a great nutritional option too because white meat is generally lower in fat than red meats like beef or lamb. Chicken is a source of quality protein, which is needed for growth and development, especially important for children and teenagers. 

Kids love potatoes, which is good news because potatoes (especially new potatoes) are a source of vitamin C. It can often be a challenge to encourage younger members of the family to eat their veggies, and although potatoes are a starchy food, which means they don’t count as a portion of fruit and veg, their contribution to our vitamin C intake makes them worth plate room.

Healthy Swaps - swap roast potatoes for sweet potato wedges or a carrot & sweet potato mash. That way you’ll be topping up your veg intake and sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene for a healthy immune system. 

Budget Tips – use the chicken carcass for making stock. This can be used to add a nutritional punch to casseroles and soups. The stock can be frozen for future use.

This recipe uses a very generous six lemons and nine garlic cloves. For younger palates and to manage costs, reduce the number of lemons and garlic to suit taste preferences.

Try the recipe... One-pan roast chicken & potatoes



Sweetcorn egg-fried rice with chicken Sweetcorn egg fried rice with chicken
Cost per serving - 40p

Use up yesterday’s roast chicken with this quick, low effort dish. Adding sweeter veggies like sweetcorn will ensure it hits the spot for younger taste buds. Consider adding the curry, soy sauce and ketchup at the end of cooking. This means you can keep everyone happy by serving up for the children before adding spicier flavours. Remember, salt intake for seven-10 year olds should be kept within Government recommendations of a maximum of 5g (equivalent of a teaspoon) per day (with younger children and toddlers consuming even less). Sauces including ketchup and soy sauce can be significant contributors to our salt intake.

Chicken is a good source of the amino acid, tryptophan, so opting for chicken in the evening will help raise serotonin levels and help promote a good night’s sleep – especially important when it’s school the next day.

Adding the egg to this dish boosts its protein contribution. What’s more eggs, namely the yolk, are one of only a handful of food sources which supply vitamin D - and whatever our age we need this vitamin for healthy bones and teeth.

Healthy Swaps – swap the ketchup for tomato puree, a rich source of protective lycopene, tomato puree is lower in salt and sugar. You’ll be adding all the flavour with a third less calories and what’s more one tablespoon counts as one of your portions of fruit and veg.

Budget Tip – this recipe is perfect for raiding the fridge so grab the opportunity to use up any leftover veggies.

Try the recipe... Sweetcorn egg-fried rice with chicken


Pink fish ballsTuesday

Pink fishballs in spicy lentil gravy
Cost per serving - £1.65

These fish balls are an ingenious way of ensuring your family reach their weekly fish quota – the Government recommends we eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be an oily variety. Oily fish including salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are rich in a special type of fat called omega-3. Our bodies need to get these fats from our diet because we cannot make them – that’s why we call them “essential fats”. Omega-3 fats are needed for our brain’s to work well, for balanced hormones and for healthy, supple skin and so much more.

Lentils are a great source of the mineral iron. This is important for school-age children, because it helps energise their brains and improves concentration and alertness. Combining iron-rich ingredients, such as the lentils, with vitamin-C rich foods like the peppers optimises our body’s absorption of this valuable mineral.

The spicy sauce in this recipe helps disguise the fishy flavour of the salmon. Add the spices according to your family’s taste preferences.

Healthy swap – swap the white breadcrumbs for wholemeal. That way you’ll be improving the fullness factor of this meal thanks to extra fibre plus wholemeal bread is richer in energising B vitamins.

Budget tips – fish can be pricey, so to keep costs down buy packs of frozen salmon or swap fresh salmon fillets for canned. You’ll still benefit from the omega-3 goodness and what’s more canned salmon supplies more bone-friendly calcium.

Try the recipe... Pink fishballs in spicy lentil gravy



Good-for-you bolognese Spaghetti
Cost per serving - £1

This bolognese packs in the veggies, which means the meat goes further - allowing you to buy less but better quality. For fussy eaters, sneak in the veg by blending to a smooth sauce before adding the meat. 

Beef is rich in the minerals iron and zinc – both are needed for growth and repair and are especially important in childhood. Zinc helps us to stay healthy by keeping our immune system functioning well and promotes the healing of cuts and bruises. Getting adequate amounts of iron from the diet is especially important for teenage girls because they’re often low in this important mineral and as a result, feel tired and lacking in energy.

Healthy swaps - swap gravy granules that can be salty for a low sodium version or for a low sodium bouillon powder such as Marigold.

Budget tip - swap spaghetti for pasta shapes. They’re easier for little ones to manage, which cuts down on wastage.

Try the recipe... Good-for-you bolognese




Tomato and chickpea bake
Cost per serving - 85p

If you’ve no time to get to the shops or you’re waiting till payday then this flavour-packed vegetarian supper makes a great fall-back because it uses up storecupboard basics like canned tomatoes and chickpeas. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise on nutritional value – chick peas are a great source of soluble fibre and iron and canned tomatoes are richer than their raw equivalent in one of the most powerful antioxidants -  lycopene. As well as being great for the heart, lycopene helps protect our skin from sun damage. Topping this veggie bake with bread provides a crunchy crust without the fat and stodginess of a pastry lid. Finishing the dish with cheese helps top up calcium levels – essential for strong bones and teeth.

Healthy swap - swap Parmesan for a milder flavoured cheese, which the children are more likely to favour such as cheddar or Edam. Remember those under two years old should be given full-fat dairy products.

Budget tip - you don’t need to use a baguette in this recipe - use up any leftover bread. If it is a sliced loaf then cut the slices into triangles and arrange over the surface of the veggie bake.

Try the recipe... Tomato & chickpea bake



Crunchy fish fingers Fish fingers
Cost per serving - 50p

Making your own fish fingers puts you in control of the ingredients, which means you can keep salt and fat levels down. Canny diners are likely to guess they’re not from a packet so why not employ some eager young helpers - that way they’ll be keener to eat what they’ve cooked.

This recipe suggests using an egg enhanced with omega-3 fats. This is a useful strategy if members of the family dislike fatty varieties of fish like salmon, although the contribution from the single egg in this recipe would be negligible. Nevertheless, if a family member has an allergy or dislike of fish, omega-3 enhanced eggs are worth using where possible.

Healthy swap - swap white fish for an oily variety like fresh tuna, trout or salmon to help top up omega-3 levels. Fish is a natural source of sodium so swap the fish seasoning (which contains salt) for mixed herbs instead.

Budget tip - buy frozen fish. It's better value and any sustainable variety would be suitable. Replace the omega-3 enhanced with a regular egg.

Try the recipe... Crunchy fish fingers




Turkey burgers
Cost per serving - £1.15

The dried apricots in these burgers may seem an unlikely ingredient, but they help keep the burger succulent and moist, as well as packing in extra flavour. That’s not all - the sweetness of the apricots will win over even the pickiest of eaters, while also supplying extra fibre and iron and counting as one portion of fruit. Turkey is not only a lean meat but it’s one of the richest in the immune-friendly mineral, selenium and supplies all of the B group of vitamins.  

Adding oats to these burgers helps the meat go further and makes them more filling – just remember that young tummies can’t manage too much fibre so vary the quantity depending on your kids’ ages. Oats are a great source of slow-burn carbs, which help to stabilise blood sugar levels and just might avert temper tantrums!

Finishing these burgers in the oven rather than frying or griddling keeps fat levels down.  

Healthy swap – if you fancy a change from poultry and you’re keen to introduce the family to new tastes consider swapping for venison. A lean meat, venison is equal in calorie content to dark turkey mince but is three times richer in iron. This recipe is ideal for introducing a new type of meat because the oats minimise the amount you’ll need and the apricots provide a sweetness to counter the different flavour.

Budget tip – Using thigh mince in place of breast mince cuts costs. Although slightly higher in fat, dark thigh meat is actually richer in minerals including iron and zinc.  

You’ll notice a number of the veggies (like the carrots in this recipe) feature throughout the week so buy loose and in bulk to keep costs to a minimum.

Try the recipe... Turkey burgers

COSTS PER SERVING (CPS) – figures are correct at the time of calculation. CPS figures exclude storecupboard ingredients, are based on prices available from a generic, mid-range supermarket, selecting products from their own label value brand. Please note variations in the market place and subsequent changing food prices will impact the validity of these figures.

Have you tried our healthy, budget family meal plan? We'd love to hear what you think...

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28th May, 2016
Most families need to keep costs down. I wouldn't consider some of these to be cheap recipes. It would be nice for BBC to provide cheap healthy recipes that are 50 - 80p per serving or less. £1 is far too expensive. We have to live on £25 a week for 2 people.