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.
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. Want even more inspiration for budget-friendly family meals? Check out our top cheap midweek family dinners and our quick and pocket-friendly family recipes.
It’s often difficult to get kids to eat certain foods such as veggies and fibre-rich grains, so these recipes use clever strategies to incorporate them. Finally, the seven-day plan helps 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.
For more filling family suppers that’ll do you good, take a look at our healthy family recipe collection.
Seven days of healthy suppers
Will serve a family of four
Our one-pan roast chicken & potatoes is sure to become an all-time family favourite. It’s a great nutritional option too because white meat is generally lower in fat than red meats, such as beef or lamb. Chicken is a source of quality protein, which is needed for growth and development, and is 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 plate worthy.
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.
Use up yesterday’s roast chicken with our low-effort chicken & egg-fried rice. Adding sweeter veggies, such as 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 that supply vitamin D – and whatever our age we need this vitamin for healthy bones and teeth.
Healthy Swaps – swap the ketchup for tomato purée, a rich source of protective lycopene, tomato purée 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.
The Government recommends we eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be an oily variety, and these pink fishballs in spicy lentil gravy are an ingenious way of ensuring your family reach the weekly quota. 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 brains 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 the fresh salmon fillet for canned. You’ll still benefit from the omega-3 goodness and what’s more canned salmon supplies more bone-friendly calcium.
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.
Our tomato & chickpea bake is a whopping four of your 5-a-day in one go. 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 such as canned tomatoes and chickpeas. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the nutritional value – chickpeas 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 instead. If it is a sliced loaf, then cut the slices into triangles and arrange over the surface of the veggie bake.
Making your own crunchy 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, such as 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 instead.
Healthy swap – swap white fish for an oily variety, such as fresh tuna, trout or salmon, to help top up the 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.
The dried apricots in these easy turkey 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.
Enjoyed these recipes? Try our other family meals...
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.
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