Easy, affordable and healthy eating tips

Ready meals and processed foods may look like a quick and low-cost way to feed the family, but there are many convenient, affordable and healthy alternatives.

Here are five ways to help feed your children a varied, nutritious diet that will support their growth and development, all while building healthy eating habits.

1. Keep up fruit and vegetable intake

Purchasing, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging for some families. But it’s important to ensure children get as much fruit and vegetables in their diet as possible.

As well as being eaten fresh, fruits and vegetables can be frozen and will retain most of their nutrients and flavour. Using fresh vegetables to cook large batches of soups, stews or other dishes will make them last longer and provide meal options for a few days. These can also be frozen and then quickly reheated.

2. Swap in healthy dried or canned alternatives when fresh produce is not available

Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it is not available there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare.

Canned beans and chickpeas, which provide an abundance of nutrients, can be stored for months or even years, and can be included in meals in many ways. Canned oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals. These can be used cold in sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a warm meal.

Canned vegetables, such as tomatoes, tend to contain lower quantities of vitamins than fresh produce, but they are a great fallback option when fresh produce or frozen vegetables are hard to come by. 

Dried goods like dried beans, pulses and grains such as lentils, split peas, rice, couscous or quinoa are also nutritious, long-lasting options that are tasty, affordable and filling. Rolled oats cooked with milk or water can serve as an excellent breakfast option, and can be spiced up with yoghurt, chopped fruits or raisins. 

3. Build up a stock of healthy snacks

Children often need to eat a snack or two during the day to keep them going. Rather than giving kids sweets or salty snacks, opt for healthier options like nuts, cheese, yoghurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruits, boiled eggs, or other locally available healthy options. These foods are nutritious, more filling, and help build healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. 

4. Limit highly processed foods 

While using fresh produce may not always be possible, try to limit the amount of highly processed foods in your shopping basket. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. If you do purchase processed foods, look at the label and try to choose healthier options containing less of these substances.

Try to also avoid sugary drinks and instead drink lots of water. Adding fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries to water is a great way to add an extra twist of flavour.

5. Make cooking and eating a fun and meaningful part of your family routine

Cooking and eating together is a great way to create healthy routines, strengthen family bonds and have fun. Wherever you can, involve your children in food preparation – small children can help with washing or sorting food items while older children can take on more complex tasks and help to set the table. 


 Food hygiene tips 

Good hygiene is always important when handling food to prevent any food-borne illnesses. 

  • Wash unpackaged produce, such as fruit and vegetables, thoroughly under running water. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food.
  • User separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish.
  • Cook food to the recommended temperature.
  • Where possible, keep perishable items refrigerated or frozen, and pay attention to product expiry dates. 
  • Aim to recycle or dispose of food waste and packaging in an appropriate and sanitary manner, avoiding a build-up of waste which could attract pests.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and make sure your children do the same.
  • Always use clean utensils and plates.