AS ANY busy parent will tell you, it can be difficult to prepare healthy and nutritious meals to feed the family every day.
Over the next five weeks, we’ll be bringing you weekly tips and recipes for delicious, healthy and easy meals for less – along with some brilliant money-saving offers on key ingredients.
The recipes, all costing under a fiver to feed a family of four, will be brought to you by a team of Healthy Helpers – volunteer mums working with the Scottish Government’s Eat Better Feel Better campaign to help spread the word about the benefits of eating a healthy balanced diet.
This week’s recipe and tips come from mum-of-two Gillian Beattie, from Glasgow, who joined the Healthy Helper team after a friend urged her to apply.
Gillian knows more than most just how important it is to be conscious about eating right and cooking meals from scratch – especially when it comes to your general health and wellbeing.
Just like nine other members of her wider family, Gillian, 38, suffers from a hereditary condition called nephritis. Although living a healthy and active lifestyle, her condition started to affect normal kidney function, and in January last year she received a kidney transplant through organ donation.
She explained: “I knew I had the condition but it was pretty stable. Then in December 2014 I was working as long-haul cabin crew for a large airline and I took unwell.
“When I got home I discovered that I was in kidney failure – but at the time I just thought it was a bug. I don’t smoke and I have always been quite healthy but sadly it’s just a condition that’s in our family.
“Before the transplant I spent seven and a half months on dialysis. Then I received the new kidney and it has changed my life.”
While on dialysis, Gillian had to dramatically alter her diet and became even more conscious of the food she was cooking for her family.
She said: “I’m quite conscious – and always have been – of the salt content in processed foods. So I’ve always tended to cook everything from scratch so I know exactly what I’m eating.
“But with having the kidney failure and being on dialysis, your diet is restricted. A lot of things that are good for you – like bananas, avocado and dried fruit – you aren’t allowed because they have high potassium levels.
“So you are very restricted as to what you can eat. But with having the kidney transplant I can get back to eating all the foods I wanted to eat and enjoy.”
Keen to give her children, Isla seven and Jake, three, a good start in life, Gillian also encourages them to get into the kitchen and cook with her – something she advises any parents with fussy kids to try.
More: Healthy recipe for beef, pepper and sugar snap pea stir fry
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She said: “I try to get my kids to think about what they are eating.
“Sometimes they can be fussy, just like any other children. And so sometimes I do need to disguise food in their meals – but I do try to have them eating as healthy as possible and having them on a balanced lifestyle that ensures they are getting the fuel in their body that they need.”
One tip Gillian is keen to share is also encouraging children to get involved with shopping and cooking healthy foods, as this encourages them to try new things.
She said: “I like to bring the kids along shopping with me. My daughter likes to come shopping and I try to explain to her what we have in the trolley and what we’re going to use it for.
“The kids like to get their stools and wash the veg and put things into the pot. Getting the kids involved and showing them what healthy eating is makes it better for them, as they’ve made it and helped contribute towards it.”
She added: “The best thing to do is create a weekly planner. I make one so that I know what we’re having each day – obviously we all have busy lifestyles so it’s good to be organised for the week ahead.
“And I would also encourage everyone to look on eatbetterfeelbetter.co.uk. Lots of mums and dads share recipes and they are so easy to make.”
Five tips to help you eat well for less
1. Think ahead
Set aside a day for planning family meals and healthy snacks. Write out a list of ingredients and then shop for them so you have everything you need to eat healthily through the week.
2. Make the week easier by cooking in bulk
Making sauces, soups, stews and casseroles in batches means you can freeze leftovers to be heated up later in the week when you’re busier. Check out some freezer-friendly tips on our website.
3. Plan around healthy choices
Make a list of your family’s favourite healthy meals then, at the beginning of each week, pick and choose which ones you’re going to make.
4. Buy frozen veg to avoid waste
Most of us end up throwing out unused fruit and veg each week, but having a selection of frozen vegetables and berries – which are just as healthy as fresh – in the freezer means you’ll always have a few options to choose from and you can cut down on waste.
5. Flexible foods
Buying ingredients that can be used for several dishes – pasta, rice, herbs, tinned tomatoes, onions, stock cubes etc – will give you the flexibility to make different meals if you haven’t had time to go to the supermarket, especially if you have frozen ingredients or leftovers to call on too.
This week’s low-cost meal: Baked Potato with Chicken and Sweetcorn
This is a really great way to use up any leftover chicken and makes for a tasty but super-quick family meal to serve up at the end of a busy day. This recipe typically costs under £5, but you can save even more by picking up your free pack of baked potatoes using the coupon inside Saturday’s paper.
4 baking potatoes (720g)
1 pack roast/cooked chicken (240g)
1 tin sweetcorn (200g)
6 level tablespoons reduced calorie mayonnaise (90g)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil (12g)
Nutritional info per serving
Energy 492 kcals
1. Set the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan oven / 400°F / gas mark 6.
2. Wash the potatoes and use a fork to prick each one all over.
3. Using your hands, cover each potato in a teaspoon of oil.
4. Place each potato on a foil covered tray and cook for between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, the skin should be golden brown and crisp, and the potato should give a little when squeezed.
5. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and mix with the drained sweetcorn and mayonnaise.
6. Cut the potatoes in half then spoon the chicken and sweetcorn mixture over them and serve.
7. To save time you can cook the potatoes in the microwave on full power for 10 minutes, then turn them and cook for another five. If they’re still hard, cook for another minute at a time until soft all the way through.
Tip: If you like the skins crisp then you can pop the potatoes in the oven at a high temperature before serving. Don’t forget to check out website for other ideas for filling.
For more great ideas on how to eat more healthily, plus a selection of easy recipes, visit eatbetterfeelbetter.co.uk or www.facebook.com/eatbetterscotland
Plus, pick up this Saturday’s Daily Record (February 11) for your FREE pack of baking potatoes.