I. Getting the balance right – follow this ratio of different food types at meal times

II. Lunch box ideas

Children need a well balanced, healthy lunch to ensure they are getting the right amount of energy and nutrients they need for playing during break time and for concentration in their afternoon lessons. It is a difficult task to make the lunch box healthy but also interesting at the same time and you may want to resort to foods like crisps, chocolate and sweets, so instead of doing this, we have some good, cheap ideas to help.

Younger children
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5
Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread

Tinned peaches in natural juice with low fat yogurt

Small handful of raisin and nuts

Water
Pitta bread with tuna, sweet corn and low fat mayonnaise

Chopped carrot and cucumber with low fat dips/cheese spread

Pear

Apple juice
Granary roll with chicken and tomato

Low fat yoghurt, small box of raisins

Handful of homemade popcorn

Water
Oatmeal crackers with low fat hummus and peppers

Reduced fat cheese triangle with breadsticks

Satsuma

Orange juice
Tuna pasta salad with cucumber, peppers and tomatoes

Small handful of dried apricots

Half a currant bun

Glass of milk
Older children
Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5
One tortilla wrap filled with tuna and low fat mayonnaise and salad

Fruit smoothie

Handful of nuts

Small triangle of low fat cheese
Seeded bagel with low fat cream cheese

Low fat yoghurt

Apple

Water
Pasta/rice mixed with kidney beans, pulses and sweetcorn

Handful of raisins

Kiwi fruit

Semi-skimmed /skimmed milk
Wholemeal pitta bread with egg and low fat mayonnaise

Chopped carrot, cucumbers and peppers with hummus dip

Low fat yoghurt

Orange juice
Granary roll with grilled chicken and salad

Banana and 3-4 dried apricots/figs

Low fat milkshake
Handy tips
  • Try and add a little salad to sandwiches and pick the vegetables your child likes to add to pasta/rice/cous cous
  • Pick low fat sandwich fillings such as lean meats (ham, chicken), tuna or salmon, low fat cheese, cottage cheese or low fat hummus
  • Thinly scrape margarine on crackers/sandwiches and if you are adding low fat mayonnaise /salad cream then avoid using butter as well
  • To increase variety and to limit preparation, then you can always give food left over from the night before like pasta and rice dishes
  • Make fruit and vegetables easy to eat-chop them up to make it easier for the child to eat them
  • Try adding dried fruit like raisins and apricots as they are easy for the child to eat, they can add them to yoghurts or rice puddings and this counts as one of their 5 a day fruit and vegetable portions
  • Scones, currant buns, fruit loaf, homemade popcorn are good alternatives to chocolate, biscuits and crisps
  • Always include a drink with the packed lunch; water is the best option or alternatively choose fruit juices (limit to one glass a day), semi skimmed and skimmed milk (if not giving yoghurt or cheese with the lunch). If you are giving squash as a drink then ensure that the squash is a no added sugar squash

Get your child to help pick what they want in their lunch box, giving them a choice of healthy options

Got any great lunch box ideas?

Send them in and we could add them to our lunch box suggestions; email info@fitvits.com reference Lunch box ideas

III. Tasty recipes

Try some of these recipes below, not only are they quick and easy to make but they are healthy and cheap too

Healthy pasta bake – serves 2
Cooking/prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: about 25-35p/serving
Ingredients: 100g pasta, 4 teaspoons tomato puree, water, 1 can tuna or a small amount of low fat grated cheese (40g)

Method:
1. Boil your pasta in water
2. While pasta is cooking, grate your cheese/drain your tuna
3. When the pasta is cooked add about half a tube of tomato puree, stirring well
4. Add the tuna stirring it in well. Leave for a minute to heat up the tuna
5. Serve into a bowl and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top

Pitta pizzas – serves 4
Cooking/prep time: 7 mins
Cost: about 35-45p/serving
Ingredients: 4 wholemeal pitta breads, 4 teaspoons tomato puree , 4 medium tomatoes sliced, 2 teaspoons dried mixed Italian herbs, 4 slices of mozzarella cheese/ham or 1-2 cans of tuna

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan oven 170°C, Gas Mark 5
2. Spread 1 teaspoon of tomato puree over one side of each pitta bread. Arrange on a baking sheet and top with the sliced tomatoes, mozzarella/ham or tuna. Sprinkle with the mixed herbs. You can even add vegetables like sweet corn and onions to the topping
3. Transfer to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. If you prefer, cook these under a medium-hot grill for 4-5 minutes

African Chicken Vegetable Stew and Rice – serves 4
Cooking/prep time: 1 hour
Cost: approx £1.40 / serving
Ingredients: 400g chicken (can substitute for beef/shrimp), 250g chopped frozen spinach, 2 medium onions, 1 tsp curry powder, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp olive oil, 200g brown rice.

Method:
1. Skin chicken and cut into chunks
2. Mince ¾ of onion with garlic cloves and rub this mixture onto chicken pieces along with curry powder, paprika and ginger.
3. In covered pot, let seasoned chicken cook for 15-20 mins on each side until meat is white inside
4. While chicken is cooking, chop rest of 1 onion and boil spinach for 15 mins, drain and leave to one side
5. In pan, heat tbsp oil and then stir fry other chopped onion for 5 mins. When done add can of tomatoes and tomato puree and let cook for 5-7 mins. Add this sauce mixture to drained spinach and let cook for another 5 mins on medium.
6. lastly, add spinach mixture to chicken and cook together for 30 mins or until done. Serve with brown rice.

Chicken Fajitas – serves 4
Cooking/prep time: 20 -30 mins
Cost: 21p per serving
Ingredients: 2 chicken breast fillets (skinned and cut into strips), 4-5 tomatoes (washed and chopped), 75g shredded lettuce, ½ red pepper, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic,100g (4oz) plain fromage frais or natural yoghurt, 1tsp olive oil, 8 small flour tortillas

Method:
1. Heat the oil in a pan and stir fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes
2. Remove the chicken and add the garlic, onions and red pepper to the pan and stir fry for 5 minutes
3. Return the chicken to the pan and heat through
4. Remove from the pan and mix the chicken and vegetables with the fromage frais or yoghurt
5. Warm tortillas in oven or microwave, as directed on the packet
6. To serve, place some of the chicken mixture in the centre of the tortilla, add some lettuce and tomatoes. Carefully fold over each side enclosing the filling

African Curry - serves 4
Cost: approx 95p per serving
Cooking/prep time: 40 mins
Ingredients: 1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes, 400g unpeeled sweet potatoes (cut into ½ inch Thick slices), 1 onion (thinly sliced), 4 garlic cloves (crushed and peeled), 2 tbsp curry powder, 20 pitted prunes, 5 spring onions (finely chopped), ½ cup fresh coriander, 2 tbsp light peanut butter, tin of black beans, 200g brown rice

Method:
1. Bring 2 ½ cups water to the boil in a saucepan and add rice, cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 30-40 mins according to instructions on packet until the rice is tender
2. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, the potatoes, onion, garlic and curry powder in large saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes
4. Drain the tin of black beans, put in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender, Strain and mix this with the strained rice and serve

Easy Shepherds Pie – serves 4
Cooking/prep time: 60 minutes
Cost: 84p per serving
Ingredients: 600g(1.5lbs) potatoes (peeled and diced), 600g (1.5lbs) swede or turnip (peeled and diced), black pepper (to taste), 3 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk, 400g (16oz) lean minced beef or lamb, 1 medium onion (peeled and chopped), 1 dessert spoon plain flour, 440g (17oz) can chopped tomatoes, 300ml water, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary (if using lamb)

Method:
1. Boil potatoes and swede for 15-20mins, or until tender
2. Drain and mash until smooth with the milk and season with pepper
3. Dry fry the minced beef or lamb until browned
4. Drain off excess fat then add the onion and fry for a further 3-4 mins, stirring occasionally
5. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until the mince and onion mixture are evenly coated
6. Add the tomatoes, rosemary (if using lamb) and 300ml of water, bring to the boil, stirring until thickened.
7. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally
8. Place mince in a heatproof dish, spoon the potato and swede mixture over the top, texture the topping with a fork
9. Either grill until lightly browned, or pop into a pre-heated oven (200C/400F/Gas Mark6) for 20 mins
10. Serve with a selection of cooked vegetables

Alternatively you can use sweet potatoes or carrots in your mash as an alternative. You can also put extra vegetables in the mince meat if you like. If your Shepherd’s Pie dish is very full, place on a baking tray covered in silver foil, in order to catch any that spills over whilst cooking in the oven or grill.

Quick Stir fry – serves 2
Cooking /prep: 10 mins
Cost: about £1-£1.25/serving
Ingredients: 2 tbsp oil, 1 x 300g bag stir fry vegetables or chopped vegetables of your choice, 1 cooked chicken breast (skin removed and cut into thin strips) or 150g of pork/lamb/turkey if prefer, 2 tbsp light soy sauce

Method:
1. Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot (about a minute or two). Pour in the oil and immediately tip in the vegetables and the chicken. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring them so they don’t burn
2. Add about half a small glass (50ml) of water and cook until evaporated
3. Add the soy sauce and cook for a few seconds more. Serve with rice or noodles

Lamb Koftas with Minted Cous Cous - serves 6
Cooking/Prep Time: 1hour
Cost Per Serving: 82p
Ingredients: Koftas: 400g minced lamb, ½ red onion (finely chopped), 1 garlic clove (crushed), 10ml (2tsp) ground coriander, 10ml (2tsp) ground cumin, , squeeze of lemon juice.
CousCous: 225g (8oz) couscous, 250ml (9fl oz) boiling water, 45ml (3 tsp) olive oil, 15ml (1tbsp) lemon juice, ½ cucumber (finely diced), 4 spring onions (finely chopped), 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh mint (chopped), 4 tomatoes (cut into chunks).

Method:
1. Pre-heat grill (medium heat). Line grill pan with silver foil.
2. To make the koftas, place the mince meat, onion, garlic, fresh coriander and lemon juice in a food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until very finely minced
3. Divide mixture into 12 and shape each into an oval, push each oval into the end of a long wooden skewer and place on a foil-lined grill pan.
4. Cook koftas for 8-10 mins turning, until they have browned and are cooked through
5. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a bowl and pour over the boiling water, cover and leave to soak for 5 mins
6. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, cucumber, spring onion and mint, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
7. Serve the koftas with the couscous and tomatoes.

Got any great ideas for healthy meals?

Send them in and we could add them to our tasty recipes suggestions; email info@fitvits.com reference tasty recipes

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