How can early years settings cost-effectively provide children with nutritious and tasty meals at a time when food and energy bills are soaring?
Currently, food inflation is higher than it has been in 13 years we understand that many of our families are finding it challenging to provide their children with tasty yet cost-effective meals. With the rise of food inflation, nurseries are also finding it difficult to fill the nutrition gap.
Our Chef, Angilla and Kitchen Assistant, Karthi at our Nursery in High Wycombe have provided you with ideas of how you can make healthy, nutritious and cost-effective meals!
Supermarket own brand products:
To be able to offer nutritious and cost-effective meals, the options of supermarket own brands tend to be much cheaper and have fewer known allergens listed in their ingredients. This means that not only are we keeping the children with dietary needs as safe as possible, but we are also keeping costs to a minimum which helps massively in offsetting the cost of food against the cost of energy bills. Lots of supermarket brands are just as good as the big named brands.
Using herbs and spices:
A great way to enhance the flavor in our meals is to use herbs and spices as these enhance the flavours and are cheap to buy. Herbs such as oregano or basil are such strong flavours that they can be used alone and still add a new dynamic to a meal. Fresh herbs last longer in the fridge and can be used for multiple dishes so less waste. If fresh herbs aren’t available, dried herbs are also great at adding flavours.
To reduce wastage, to ensure we are cost effective and more sustainable, we use up all of our fresh produce before moving to our frozen vegetables. Replacing meat dishes with vegetable dishes to use the last items in the kitchen is a great way to make tasty meals at lower prices, again adding herbs to enhance flavours. Some dishes work great with frozen vegetables, so by ordering less fresh produce if necessary, will keep costs down even more.
Fish dishes are always tasty and to reduce costs, you can use one variety of fish to create fish cakes or fish pie and use herbs such as dill to bring out the flavours. Tinned fish can be used and fresh fish can be cooked and flaked to spread out and serve more people.
Bulking out meals:
Adding potatoes and vegetables will bulk out meals, therefore will be hearty and healthy meals for all. Also using tinned beans such as kidney beans, cannelloni beans or even baked beans will add another dimension to meals and add more flavour.
Check out some of our nurseries weekly menus:
Inexpensive and healthy foods – price check
Starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, are a good source of energy. Pasta also provides fibre, B vitamins and some protein.
- Aldi: Everyday Essential penne pasta 500g – 41p
- Waitrose: Essential penne 500g – 95p
Lentils are available in a range of colours and sizes, and are a great way of adding fibre, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and plant-based protein to a wide range of recipes.
- Aldi: Highland Kitchen red split lentils (dried) 500g – £1.09
- Waitrose: Red split lentils (dried) 500g – £1.35
Fresh or frozen, peas are packed with goodness. An excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and fibre, peas are another naturally sweet vegetable.
- Aldi: Four Seasons British garden peas – 85p per 900g
- Waitrose: Essential frozen garden peas – £1.20 per 725g