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Eating On a Budget

Feeding your family healthily on a tight budget is possible - with some thought and planning it can quickly become a habit to be proud of.

There are lots of ways you can cut the costs of food whilst still having a healthy diet that you and your family can enjoy.

    • Plan ahead – think what you will eat on each day and write a list and stick to it
    • Batch cooking – Make more than you need when cooking a meal. Chill/freeze and use another day
    • But remember small children only need small portions  or food will be wasted
    • Put any extra into containers when you are serving up so you are not tempted to eat it that day.
    • Use Leftovers – use for  lunches the next day e.g. pasta can be turned into a pasta salad,, chicken can go in a sandwich
    • Look online or on recipe apps for ideas of how to use leftovers.

    At the shops

    • Buy frozen and tinned fruit and veg– they are just as good for you. They are cheaper, and last longer
    • Use own brand products – they are cheaper and the same quality.
    • Try markets for fruit and veg it can be cheaper and you can buy just what you need
    • Look for wonky fruit and veg – doesn’t look perfect but tastes the same for less
    • Look for the bargain shelves – prices are reduced on foods approaching sell by date. It is a good chance to stock up the cupboard and freezer


    (Can this be ‘boxed’ on page) Sell by date is when a shop has to sell an item by


    Sell by date is when a shop has to sell an item by.

    Use by date is the recommended date a food should be eaten by.

    • Takeaways and ready meals are everywhere – once in a while these can be great -but they are very expensive and contain unhealthy fats and salt.
    • Having basics in your cupboard means that you have ingredients at the ready to turn your shopping into tasty meals.

    Here are some ideas – you may choose some other family favourites

    • Stock cubes ( low salt is best) add flavour to meats, soups and sauces
    • Pepper, dried herbs and spices – choose family favourites or try something new
    • Big bag of rice or pasta ( wholemeal is better for you)
    • Big bag of potatoes to bake, boil or mash
    • Flour ( thickens gravies & sauces)
    • Tinned tomatoes and tomato puree
    • OnionOnions and garlic (if you like it – it is a great flavour booster)
    • Vegetable oil – to stop things sticking

    As time goes on you might add in other things like – lentils, chick peas and chilli beans.

    It can be a real relief to know you have things in your cupboard that you can turn into a quick, cheap and tasty meal.

    • Maybe you love to cook and are very confident, or maybe this is something new to you but you are keen to have a go.
    • There are so many recipes available online now that it easy to find something for learner and more experienced cooks.
    • You can also search for a recipe for the ingredients you have in your cupboard today.

    Here are a couple of recipes that we think are great to get you started. You could always make these  in bulk and freeze them up or make just enough for today.

    Tomato Sauce

    You will need: 

    • Big tin of tomatoes
    • Clove garlic (if you like it)
    • Dried mixed herbs heaped teaspoon
    • Tomato Puree (a big splodge)
    • Chopped Onion
    • Oil ( a teaspoon )

    1)Chop the onion into small pieces

    2)Chop the garlic into very small pieces

    3)Heat oil in saucepan (medium heat)

    4)Cook onion and garlic for 3 / 4  minutes (stir as you go)

    5)Add tomatoes, puree and herbs

    6)Keep on a low heat for 20 minutes

    You could;

    • Mix into cooked pasta
    • Brown some minced beef – add to sauce and you have Bolognese
    • Add chilli beans and teaspoon of chilli powder to above for chilli con carne
    • Add some chicken and potatoes and vegetables for a tomatoey casserole
    • Add curry powder and veg for a curry serve with rice
    • Add loads of veg and cook slowly until soft for soups

    Cheese Sauce

    You will need:

    • About 1/3 of a medium pack of cheese ( grated or chopped into very small pieces)
    • 3 tablespoons of butter / margarine
    • 4 tablespoons plain flour
    • Pint of Milk
    • Black Pepper

    1)Put flour, butter and milk into pan and stir ALL the time until it starts to thicken and begins to bubble

    2)Let it bubble for 2 minutes

    3)Add cheese let it melt

    4)Add pepper

    You could;

    • Pour over cooked cauliflower and / or broccoli
    • Add sweetcorn, peas and cooked macaroni – mix together – sprinkle with cheese or breadcrumbs – bake in oven for 20 minutes
    • Pour over defrosted fish fillets – add veg and bake for 20 minutes

    Baked Potatoes

    • Are easy cheap and filling and you can find a topping to suit everyone!
    • Buy a large bag of potatoes – it is much cheaper than buying small packs – keep them somewhere dry and dark and they will last well.
    • Prick the skin and put in oven for about an hour
    • Anything goes for toppings – cheese and beans, tuna and sweetcorn, chilli con carne – a quick internet search will give you loads of other ideas too!
  • Sometimes no matter how hard you try it can be really hard to make ends meet. You shouldn’t feel bad about this and it is important that you ask for help.There are services especially for people in this difficult position .If you are worried that you do not have the money to feed yourself and your family look at our pages on how to get support here.

Who Can Help?

If you are concerned about your child’s weight or eating habits and feel you need support then you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

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