Here at Foodwise, we have a real passion for helping children and teenagers develop the skills for cooking healthy balanced meals. Giving children the opportunity to cook, explore and enjoy different foods can have an array of benefits. This can include a more positive relationship with food, developing healthy eating habits, enjoyment of good food and cooking as well as developing the skills when they are living away from home.
In 2013, a survey found that less than 40% of British children could cook 5 savoury dishes by the time they left school. This can have a huge effect on the health and wellbeing of this generation, leaving them without much choice but to purchase ready made meals and fast foods. Something we all know can be costly both in our purses and for our health. In some cases, children can lack the basic culinary skills of whisking an egg or peeling vegetables. This can also prevent the children from understanding what a variety of foods are, influencing their ability to lead a healthy balanced diet.
FoodWise tries to make a difference to these statistics by teaming up with the Eikon Charity. Starting at Kings College Guildford with the view to broaden our horizons to other schools in the community. Our sessions are around 6 weeks long, depending on the term and within these sessions we cover a variety of bases. From ‘what is a healthy balanced diet?’, to dietary practices to support mental wellbeing and aid exam stress.
But, teaching children and teenagers to cook is not something that can only be done at school. So here are some tips for getting our youngsters cooking at home with as little stress as possible!
- Choose simple recipes. The recipes on our website are created to be quite basic with easily obtainable and budget friendly ingredients. Similarly, typing ‘simple snack ideas’ into Google will be a great place to start!
- Encourage basic skills such as mixing, spreading, peeling, grating, chopping (ensure supervision with sharp objects)
- If the children are younger, using colourful and fun utensils on a low unit can be useful
- Start a notepad recipe book and encourage your young one to write down the foods that they have created
- When possible, involve the children when shopping for the foods – this will give them the ability to see the array of different foods in the supermarket
- Think of the key skills for cooking: boiling, baking, grilling, and roasting
Remember, developing new skills in the kitchen can get pretty messy! So be prepared and maybe you can even teach them how to clean up along the way!
Making a healthy balanced meal go a long way can seem a little daunting, especially if cooking from scratch perhaps is not something that you are used to! So below are our top 10 FoodWise tips for stretching your pennies, bulking out your meals and keeping them full of nutrients.
1- Half veggie, half meat: This works perfectly for foods such as cottage pie, spag bol, curries, or a chilli. Simply half the amount of meat that you have in your recipe and either bulk it out with vegetables of your choice (maybe carrots, peas, sweetcorn, sweet potato), or with a tin of lentils/mixed beans/chickpeas – or both! Check out this BBC recipe that bulks out a cottage pie with some baked beans.
2- Buy own brands: Did you know that most of the time, supermarket own brands often have a similar nutritional value and taste to the branded alternatives. In fact, Good Housekeeping found that some own-brand foods are BETTER than branded foods! Why not trial and error with some supermarket brands with foods such as cereals, tinned foods, frozen foods, fruit and vegetables. Then you can ditch the fancy label and save yourself a couple of pounds.
3- Write a grocery list – and stick to it!: It can be tough sometimes, you go into the supermarket with a list but get lured in by lots of different offers. Try and make yourself a list of the foods that you and your family specifically need and go straight to these items in the supermarket rather than walking the aisles. The bright colours are there to catch us out and although the offers may look good – ask yourself if you really planned to buy that food in the first place?
4- Use your leftovers: Cooking large batches of food and keeping the leftovers for another meal can really help stretch your pennies. This can be anything from cous cous to a roast dinner – just keep it in a microwave safe tuppaware and either keep in the fridge or freezer and reheat! Do be careful though to ensure that the food is piping hot throughout when reheating. When you are planning on saving foods, you should ensure that they are cooled down on the side before being placed into the fridge and if you are keeping it in the fridge then it should be used within 3-5 days.
5- Don’t put up with food waste! Did you know, the average family with children wastes almost £60 of good food every month. Like above, try only buying the foods that you will use and be strict about what you will actually eat, cooking the correct portion for the amount of people eating.
6- More veg please! Why not have a couple of meat free days? Meat, fish and poultry usually cost the most in a meal, so swapping these out for beans, lentils or pulses such as chickpeas and mixed beans can cut the cost significantly. They are also a good source of protein and fibre and they contribute to your 5-a-day. You could make it fun and join the other thousands of people taking part in ‘meat-free-Monday’.
7- Freeze your bread: Bread is one of the most wasted food items. If you find that your bread is mouldy before you have finished the loaf, then you could try freezing your bread to store it. You can put it straight in the toaster if you are after toast, or if you are packing a sandwich for lunch, then the added bonus is that it will stay fresh until lunchtime! Storing bread at it’s freshest will help preserve the taste.
8- Toddlers eat the same: If you have a toddler, get them into eating the same meals as you. Ensuring that you do not use any salt and be careful with spicy food. Simply blend or chop up their portion to a size to best suit them, you can even freeze leftovers for convenience. This is also a great way to bond, share a meal with your child, increase their likeness for different foods and ensure they are eating healthfully too!
9- Buy frozen: Did you know that frozen fruit and vegetables have a similar nutritional value as fresh? This is because they are frozen when picked retaining the nutrients, flavour and colour. The added bonus is that they also come already chopped and prepared! Be careful not to choose those with added salt, sugar or fat.
10- Buy in bulk: Buying rice, pasta and pulses in bulk can keep the cost down and add to your store cupboard essentials. Try to avoid single use/microwave packets of rice and pulses which increases both the cost of the shopping and plastic going into the environment. You can even buy bigger packets of meat which will be cheaper per kilogram and freeze in portions for convenience. Lastly, you could cook a whole chicken ready to add to curries, sandwiches, salads. A whole chicken will give you two thighs, 2 breasts, drumsticks, wings and a carcass for making stock!
Do you have any tips and tricks for saving the pennies on your food? Whether it’s ways to eliminate waste or ways to make your meals stretch further, we would lov
Usually we think of families in 3rdworld countries, or maybe those with clinical eating disorders such as anorexia
nervosa or bulimia.
You probably don’t associate malnourishment with eating food, but the truth is you can be malnourished whilst still eating regularly.
According to the BDA (British Association of Dieticians) in the UK alone around 3million people suffer from malnourishment costing the NHS an excess of £13 billion per year!
This post is designed to help you understand what impacts our nutritional status: signs of malnutrition, high-risk groups, links with poverty, and simple ways to eat yourself healthy whilst cutting costs.
Malnutrition occurs when your body is not getting the correct amount of nutrients
it needs from your diet.
Whilst usually associated with poorer countries where their diet is restricted and there is less food security, it is increasingly becoming a problem in Westernised societies due to:
- Highly accessible and cheaper convenience foods with little to no nutritional benefit (think ready meals, sugary snacks, cereals, takeaways).
- Increased food prices making cheaper alternatives more attractive
- Growing economic stress
- Miss-communication; healthy eating messages usually focused on weight not tackling the larger picture of malnutrition
More people opt for as a quick fix. Due to the rise in food prices and other personal or environmental, stress factors, these food choices can seem like an easier option than preparing meals themselves.
is the leading cause of morbidity (disease) and the
consequences harsh. From the direct
impact on daily functioning, lowering immunity, energy levels, disrupting
sleep and cognitive abilities(thinking, problem solving, mood, IQ, reasoning abilities).
To the more indirect, or long-term impacts, on heart and bone health, fertility, social, and economic growth.
Diet shapes your brain, impacts your body and influences your quality of life.
There are few things you can look out for when identifying malnourishment in yourself or others:
· Weight loss/weight gain
· Loss of muscle strength
· Loss of appetite and mood changes
· Reduced quality of life
· Inability to carry out daily activities & loss of independence
· Slower healing and easily picking up illnesses like colds and flu
· Increased infection
· Poor sleep
· Thinning of hair and nails
You may notice how many of those link in
with symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression. It is important to
note how our body and mind are not separate entities and work together to help us
Malnutrition can impact anyone, but there are certain groups who are deemed as being more "high risk”:
· Those suffering from mental health or disability
· Those with income-poverty
· Those with lower education or lack of education around healthy eating and simplistic nutrition
· Children who may be carers for parents and/or siblings
· Those suffering with clinical eating disorders and other conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that can influence the body's ability to absorb nutrients
· Minority groups & those at risk of social isolation
Malnutrition has serious consequences on child development and, for pregnant mothers, foetal development. Therefore it is important that when we look at tackling food poverty, and supporting those most at risk of nutritional deficiencies, in order to reduce the immediate, and future, impact on health and wellbeing.
Low income is a massive factor that puts
families under pressure and at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Low-income families are also at a higher risk of illness and disability meaning their costs of healthcare may be higher, leaving even less to budget healthy eating, and with the additional stressors experienced, making diet and lifestyle bottom of the priorities. Having to take days of work, or school due to poor health as a result of malnutrition can perpetuate the problem, interrupting education, or economic advances. And so the poverty cycle deepens.
Here are some simple steps to kick-start yours and your family's health today:
gentle on yourself.
It’s all about the small steps, forget the bigger picture, and work each day at the little changes you can implement into yours and your family's lives that down the line will make for a long, happy, healthy future.
If you’re stuck we want to support you through your journey. Our freeFoodWise courses run around Guildford and Woking.
On them you are fully catered for,supported, you’ll build community as well as learning important life-skills that enable you to support yours and your family's health whilst still cutting the costs.
In order to eat well you have to shop well. Grace Luke shares her top tips for developing good shopping habits.
It's easy to get tempted into buying on impulse. Shops are highly skilled at attracting you to things you can manage without. I suggest six things to reduce the temptation factor.
Take some time to think about the week ahead – what are you doing each day? Which days will be too busy to cook? Choose a less busy day to bulk cook – make a bolognaise sauce, eat some that day and make a lasagne with the rest to put in the fridge or freezer for your busier day.
Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry – you will buy more than you need. (If you know you’re going to struggle eat a healthy snack before you go).
The market is a great place to buy your fruit and veg, and they often reduce the prices towards the end of the day!
Each week try to buy one staple ingredient to add to your store cupboard so you can russell up something tasty when money is even tighter than normal.
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