With the majority of people across the UK staying at home, most of our meals and snacks are eaten at home rather than work or out and about. Many of us might feel as if we’re running out of ideas for what to prepare next.
To help take the stress out of meal planning in these unprecedented times, the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) is able to lend a hand in the kitchen, providing easily digestible tips and inspiration for making healthy meals.
Sara Stanner, Science Director at the BNF, said:
“As a society we are all trying our best to navigate through these unfamiliar times; taking care of our diet, health and mental wellbeing is just as important as ever. It is understandable that many of us, alongside trying to work and look after children who are at home, may be struggling to decide what to make or how to use that packet at the back of the cupboard. However, with a little creative thinking, we can adapt what we cook and eat in response to the current situation, as we have had to do with so many areas of our lives already.’’
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 goods come in all varieties and, although some (such as sweetcorn and tuna) may sell out quickly, it's 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.
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 round 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.
Use tinned fish and vegetables
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.