The British Nutrition Foundation’s six stay-at-home meal tips
Shop for variety: Having a variety and balance of foods is the foundation of a healthy diet. If you’re out shopping, look for a selection of foods across the main food groups: fruit and vegetables; starchy foods, like pasta and grains; protein foods, including beans and lentils; and dairy or plant-based alternatives. There may be items available that you don’t usually buy and now is a great time to give them a try.
Use up forgotten ingredients: Don’t forget what you may already have at the back of your kitchen cupboard! Now may finally be the time to utilise that pack of lentils or can of mackerel that you never got around to eating – you could even try doing an inventory of what you’ve got so you can look for recipes and make a plan. If you’ve got a few packets with just a little bit left of foods, like pasta or rice, think creatively to use them up – for example, using the last bit of rice to bulk out a homemade soup.
Substitute pasta, rice and grains: We all know that pasta and rice are popular staples and, as such, have sometimes been selling out far quicker than other products in the shops. Try using what is available, for example bulgur wheat, quinoa, barley, couscous and noodles. Prepared packs of grains may also be easier to find on the shelves and, although usually more expensive than their dried counterparts, can provide a quick and convenient meal option. Looking up new recipes is a great way to be inspired in the kitchen, but for those wanting something familiar, it’s good to know pasta and rice can be swapped by these alternative ingredients. Good examples of this include combining couscous with a Bolognese sauce, or having quinoa or bulgur wheat with stir fried vegetables.
Canned fish and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh: Canned goods come in all varieties and, although some (such as sweetcorn and tuna) may sell out quickly, it is definitely worth considering other canned foods. Sardines, mackerel and salmon all count as oily fish and are rich in protein, omega-3 and vitamin D. Serve on top of salads or toast, or if you prefer something more subtle, they can be added to sauces or made into dips.Canned peas, carrots and spinach are all nutritious and versatile, and why not try something new like heart of palm or artichokes if these are more readily available? Add canned vegetables straight into curries and stews to bulk out your meals. Canned pulses like kidney beans or chickpeas are also a quick, nutritious addition to things like pasta sauces or salads.
Go nuts: Nuts butters have a good source of micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamins E and B, and they are also high in fibre too. Add them to Asian inspired noodle dishes or curries, or just have them with fruit or wholemeal bread as a tasty snack.
Meal planning: Making a plan for what you’re going to have for each meal for the next few days, or for the week, could really help you work out how best to use the ingredients you’ve got, and what else you may need. If you’ve got the space to do so, cooking and freezing portions using the ingredients you have available to you is a great way of managing your meal preparation around whatever is going on in the house, while cutting down on waste too.