Child eating dinner

Top tips for healthy family food

Eating a balance of foods will help us to stay healthy - but it can be difficult to know what to cook when the shelves aren’t as full as usual. The tips and links below will hopefully provide ideas for making food go further and having enjoyable and healthy family meals.

  • Have a good look in your kitchen (cupboards, fridge, freezer) and note down what you already have. This will make it easier to plan meals and shop for what you need.
  • Try to eat foods from each of the main food groups, even if they aren’t the ones you would usually buy. The Eatwell guide gives examples of different foods in each group that you could try. For example, couscous makes a great alternative to rice.
  • When we’re all stuck at home, and maybe a little bored, it’s easy to overeat by ‘grazing’ on food throughout the day. If possible, try to stick to three meals and two healthy snacks daily – and aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water. Have a look at our top tips for healthy snacks for some simple snack ideas.
  • Encourage children to get involved in preparing and cooking food – they’ll enjoy helping and are more likely to eat food they’ve made! Depending on their age, they could join in with making snacks, mixing ingredients or preparing fruit and vegetables. Make sure to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after cooking.
  • Try some of our simple, healthy recipesIf you haven’t got one of the ingredients, swap it for something from the same food group.
  • Fruit and vegetables are great for boosting our immune system and keeping us healthy. Fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are all good options. Drain and rinse tinned fruit that has been canned in syrup and vegetables that have been canned in salt water.
  • Store cupboard ingredients like dried fruit count towards your 5-a-day. Try adding raisins or chopped dried apricots to a low-sugar cereal for a healthy breakfast. Because dried fruit isn’t great for teeth, only eat it at mealtimes and not at snack time. 
  • Other store cupboard favourites are tinned or dried beans and pulses. These make great stews, but you can also add them to meat to bulk out your meal and save money. Red split lentils are cheap and just need a quick rinse in water before cooking.
  • Being at home together makes it easier to have family mealtimes. If you have a table, encourage children to help get it ready for your meal – otherwise just sit together where you can. Turn off any screens and talk to each other. Check in with how everyone is feeling, and if you’re stuck for conversation ideas, have a look at our ‘Mealtime game’ to get the chat flowing.
  • If you are buying or cooking new foods, explain that the family is going on a taste adventure. On a piece of paper, write or draw the food you’ve tried and encourage children to draw smiley faces to show what they’ve enjoyed. Keep offering new foods several times and show that you are enjoying eating them

For more great recipe ideas that are low-cost and healthy, go to Jack Monroe's website


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Little boy eating watermelon
Healthy snacks

Top tips for healthy snacks

Family mealtimes
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Children are more likely to enjoy a wide variety of foods when mealtimes are relaxed