As a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador one of my responsibilities to support families in creating healthy affordable meals and encouraging a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Last week I watched the latest episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast. One of the topics discussed was ‘Holiday Hunger’ which is where kids who are eligible for free school meals are going hungry during school holidays. Around 1.7 million kids from low-income families in the UK depend on a hot school dinner and for some this is the only hot meal they’ll have all day.
I’m ashamed to say that this is something which never even crossed my mind and during the programme I found myself crying when parents were discussing having to choose between heating or food and having to go without meals themselves in order to feed their kids. Because of their low-income these families are forced to feed their kids meals which aren’t always nutritious in order to afford to feed their families.
Once again this is a topic which the government chooses to ignore and puts us behind countries like Canada and Denmark who invest lots into their school systems and healthcare.
Jamie is campaigning for the government to allow school canteens to stay over during the school holidays so that kids who are eligible for free school meals can still have access to a hot nutritious meal everyday, taking the stress away from parents. They have the staff, the facilities and there is no additional rent to pay. Supermarkets like Tesco are now giving away unused food, as are many restaurants. So we just need to get a strong campaign started.
I asked some of my favourite parent bloggers to contribute some tips and recipes for feeding your family on a budget.
Katie Stevens, a blogger who specialises in saving and making money swears by using her slow cooker for healthy meals. Her blog katykicker.com has some delicious family meals. You can pick up a good slow cooker for as little as £10, and they are especially good for cheaper cuts of meat which you can use to make stews or curries. Slow cookers are also good for making roast meat, soups and desserts. Slow cookers are also good if you aren’t a confident cook as it does all the work for you!
Claire who runs the blog bigfamilybigfunblog has a lovely recipe for leftover pie. This is a recipe which only requires potatoes and mince (or quorn mince) and then you can simply add any vegetables which you have in your fridge. This is one of my favourite ways to create meals and to add part of your 5-a-day to your main meal. Some supermarkets have heavily reduced vegetables at the end of the day which is still fine to use days later.
The home slice has some delicious recipes including soups and crumbles. And is a great blog if you need some inspiration for family meals.
If you are looking for tasty but frugal recipes then head to mumdadplus4 where you can also find a range of slow cooker recipes..
If you want a winter warming soup recipe then I highly recommend this healthy spiced butternut squash soup from mummahub.co.uk. Butternut Squash also contains Vitamin A and B Vitamins
If you want a blog that covers posts on feeding the family frugally and lots of recipes then buzymum.com is a site you need to visit. There are some really good tips which I am going to use myself. There is also a weekly kids dinner recipe and lots of different meals to try.
Another blog which has a huge range of kid friendly meals is friendlyfirstfoods.co.uk, this blog also covers weaning so good if you have a baby as well as older kids.
You can also use the hashtag #ambersappetite on Instagram to see what healthy meals and snacks I have been feeding Amber.
Tips for budgeting
1. Lists, lists, lists!! This is so important to reduce food waste. Make a shopping list and a dinner list so that you only buy the ingredients that you need for those meals.
2. Shop around. Aldi and Lidl are fantastic for cheap fruit and vegetables, whereas the bigger supermarkets are cheaper for tinned products if you buy their own brand. Asian food shops and markets are normally very cheap for bulk spices, rice and baking ingredients like ground almonds.
3. Meat-Free, swap to meat-free meals a few days a week. You can create some delicious vegetable curries , make sure to add a tin of chickpeas or some lentils for extra protein.
4. Buy reduced. The reduced section is great if you have a freezer. You can also buy reduced meat and vegetables to cook meals that you can freeze for later.
5. Frozen fruit. These are perfect for smoothies as you only use what you need, so there’s no food waste.
6. Over ripe bananas. Don’t throw away your over ripe bananas. Chop in half or in slices and freeze in food bags. Then add to smoothies to add thickness, or add to a blender with a little bit of milk to create banana ‘nice cream’ a healthier alternative to ice cream.