Prices of food to rise?

When the Governor of the Bank of England announces that food prices are likely to rise (due largely to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit), we might ask ourselves how we will meet this challenge. Will we spend less on other things or will we save less? Perhaps it is time for us all to learn some new recipes and be prepared for price rises. Here are 10 steps to help you on your way.

Step 1: Plan

  • Plan what you are going to eat each week
  • Have a look in your cupboards and see what you already have
  • Write a shopping list
  • We usually spend more if we go to the shops very frequently


Step 2: Have a good store cupboard

Make sure you have:

  • Dried herbs and spices, salt, pepper
  • Pasta, rice, noodles, couscous
  • Tinned tomatoes and other vegetables
  • Tinned beans e.g. kidney beans, reduced salt baked beans
  • Tinned fruit in juice (not syrup)
  • Tinned fish
  • A bag of frozen vegetables
  • And anything else you regularly use


Step 3: Cook your own

  • Buying ready meals or ready made sauces costs more
  • Learn how to make basic sauces like a tomato based pasta sauce, a curry sauce or a cheese sauce


Step 4: Cook in bulk

  • Cook a large portion of bolognese, stew, chilli, casserole or curry
  • Freeze it in portions
  • When you want to eat it, take it out of the freezer the night before and defrost it in the fridge Make sure it is really hot before you serve it


Step 5: Buy seasonal produce

  • Learn which fruit and vegetables are grown when. They are usually cheaper when it is easy to harvest them locally
  • Often supermarket offers reflect what is in season
  • e.g. plums are cheaper in August and September
  • For more information go to: eatseasonably.co.uk


Step 6: Buy cheaper meat and fish

  • Chicken thighs and wings are cheaper than chicken breast
  • Stewing beef is cheaper than prime cut
  • Trout is cheaper than salmon and it is still an oily fish, for white fish pollock is cheaper than cod
  • Tinned sardines count towards your portions of fish a week
  • Buying frozen fish and meat can be cheaper, and often reduces wastage


Step 7: Be price wise

  • Check the price per unit or weight and find the best price – special offers are not always so special
  • Own brand products are often just as good as the branded ones
  • The local market may be a cheaper choice than the supermarket
  • Look out for offers and reduced items – but be careful, they are not always great offers!


Step 8: Watch what you drink

  • Fizzy drinks, juice drinks, alcohol, flavoured waters are expensive and have little or no nutritional value
  • Replace some with water, pure fruit juice milk
  • If you want to flavour your water, use sugar free squash and make up your own


Step 9: Grow your own

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables direct from the garden taste much better
  • If you don’t have much space, you can grow herbs and salad on your window sill, or tomatoes in a bag on the balcony
  • For more information go to:



Step 10: Love Food, Hate Waste

  • 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year
  • Remember special offers aren’t all that special if you end up throwing half of it away
  • Wasting food costs the average family with children £60 a month
  • For handy tips, advice and recipes for leftovers go to: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com
  • Using frozen and canned food can help to reduce wastage
  • Know the difference between best before (quality) and use by dates (safety)


There are lots more things you can do to cut your food bill and still eat a healthy, balanced diet. These 10 steps are just suggestions. Why not try these ones and then see if you can come up with any more to try.

Here are some cheap meal ideas too. (I am not endorsing these websites but think the recipes are good)

Make a chicken curry but reduce the amount of chicken by half and add a tin of chickpeas instead.

Lentil bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese – use vegetables to bulk out the mince. If you use 20% fat mince, brown it and then skim off the fat. I don’t think you need the sugar in the linked recipe

Jacket potato with beans and cheese

Shepherd’s Pie – like the spaghetti bolognese, add more veg to the meat and, if you do use cheaper mince, skim off the fat.

Egg fried rice 

Macaroni cheese – make your own cheese sauce for a quick and tasty meal

Why not share your own tips and recipes in the comments. Remember budget eating still needs to be balanced and nutritious.


‘Pack to School’ – more healthy eating tips for packed lunches

You may have seen my article in Open Up, a community magazine in south Manchester. If you haven’t, read the full article here

Here are some more ideas for healthy lunches.

Choose something from each of these categories

1) Bread, cereals and potatoes

  • Sliced bread, pitta bread
  • Bread roll
  • Chapatis, tortilla wraps, naan
  • Muffins, scones, oat cakes, rice cakes, bread sticks, crisp breads
  • Couscous, yam, potato, pasta

2) Milk, dairy and alternatives

  • Cheese sliced, grated
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yoghurt (beware of sugar content in low fat yoghurts)
  • Fromage Frais
  • Milk drinks and puddings

3) Meat, fish and alternatives

  • Chicken, turkey, ham, beef
  • Tinned fish – tuna, salmon, sardines etc.
  • Egg
  • Homous, tofu, peanut butter (if permitted – contains nuts)
  • Legumes

4) Vegetables

  • Mixed green salad
  • Grated carrot
  • Sweetcorn
  • Mixed beans
  • Sticks of carrot, celery, cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced peppers, tomatoes


  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit salad
  • A small packed of dried fruit – raisins, apricots (beware of sugar content)
  • Tinned fruit – in juice

For example:

1) Cottage cheese and ham salad sandwich on brown bread, a banana, a fruit scone, a carton of milk

2) Homous and grated carrot in pitta bread, fruit salad with yoghurt and  bottle of water

3) Pasta with tuna and mixed bean in reduced fat mayonnaise, cherry tomatoes and cheese chunks and a carton of fruit juice

4) Cream cheese and grated carrot wrap, some cucumber and pepper sticks, a handful of peanuts (unsalted and only if your child’s school allows them – if they are under 5 split the nuts in half), a handful of strawberries and a bottle of water



Please get in touch or comment for more advice including support with fussy eating.



Off to university? Key skills to go with


So you are off to university…there is so much to think about; where you will live, which clubs/societies to join, which pieces of technology you really need to do your course, how to make friends, how to stay safe…the list seems endless. Rarely though do we give a thought to the skills which would be really helpful to have at university, aside from the academic and social ones.

You might think these are boring but actually if you can do these well, you will have far more time, energy and focus to be able to get the most out of everything else on offer at university.

Do you know how to budget? There are some great resources online which help you with this:

Check out support on the UCAS website, Which? and Barclays. Beware of anyone trying to sell you things, especially in the first few weeks of term when it feels like you have loads of money!

Do you know how to clean a toilet, use a washing machine and vacuum? Sounds weird but might be worth gaining some extra brownie points and finding out. You would be surprised how useful it is to know and it can save some embarrassment too 🙂

Do you know how to plan your food?  Planning your food will help you save money, save time, reduce waste and be healthier. Perhaps get in some practice before you head off. It is useful to know how to use up leftovers too. There is even an app.

Do you know how to cook the basics? I would say some essential things to be able to do are:

  • Read a recipe – if you find a step by step cook book – children’s ones are best with photos, these will help you. You don’t want to make the common mistake of using a bulb of garlic when only a clove is needed, or a tablespoon (tbsp) of chilli when you only needed a teaspoon (tsp).
  • Prepare vegetables – for example: peel and chop an onion, get the grit out of a leek, deseed a butternut squash
  • Cook rice, pasta and potatoes
  • Make a basic pasta sauce
  • Make a cheese sauce (this is the basis for macaroni cheese, lasagne and cauliflower cheese)
  • Make an omelette
  • Safely cook a sausage, a burger and a chicken breast
  • Cook your favourite dish

There are loads more skills you can gain in the kitchen. Remember, cooking is a life skill, it is essential if you are going to eat well and keep within your budget. It is also a great way of socialising. if you can cook a curry or stew when all your friends are living off pasta, you will be in demand! Learn how to bake a few treats too, great for birthdays and special occasions.

Do you know what  a healthy diet looks like? There are lots of resources on the NHS website about healthy eating. The key thing is balance. The plate below shows you the foods which fit into each category. Make sure you get a balance of each to help you concentrate and get the most out of your course.UPDATED_Eatwell_guide_2016_FINAL_MAR23-01


If you need extra support, comment on this post and I can signpost you to more resources.


Good luck and have fun!




New advice about vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for the protection (and growth in children) of muscles and bones. It is needed to help the body absorb calcium. There is also growing evidence that it can protect against some long term health conditions. The long and short of it is, it is a vital nutrient.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on  Nutrition has just published new recommended intakes (RNIs) and new safe intakes for vitamin D. In order to get what we need, supplements are recommended – for details read on.

According to Public Health England:

“The majority of the UK will have sufficient vitamin D intakes during the spring and summer through the addition of sunlight exposure on the skin to the vitamin D consumed within a healthy, balanced diet.

  • During autumn and winter, it is however difficult for people to meet the 10mcg/d vitamin D recommendation from solely consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D.
  • Therefore it is recommended individuals consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
  • People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency and therefore need a 10mcg vitamin D supplement throughout the year.
  • Ethnic minority groups with dark skin, may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer and therefore should consider taking a supplement all year round.
  • Children aged 1 to 4 years should have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement. PHE recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age. As a precaution, all babies under 1 year should have a daily 8.5 to 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough. Children who have more than 500ml of infant formula a day do not need any additional vitamin D as formula is already fortified.”

For further information, click here

Chef · Diet · FODMAP · Healthy Eating · Uncategorized

FODMAP friendly egg fried rice

Here is another recipe for those on the FODMAP diet. Quick and easy. Ready in 20 minutes. I would love to know what you think of it.

FODMAP friendly egg fried rice

Serves 3-4 people


250g basmati rice

1 head of pak choi, cut into chunks

1 red pepper, diced

200g frozen peas

8 eggs, broken into a bowl but not whisked

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp chives

2 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Gluten free soy sauce to taste


Cook the rice in boiling water and strain. Take care not to overcook

Meanwhile stir fry the red pepper with the ginger powder, chives, cinnamon and black pepper for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and cook for a further 2 minutes without stiring. Add the pak choi and peas and stir (this breaks up the eggs).  Cook until the eggs are dried out and no longer sloppy. Add the sesame oil and fry for a further minute. Add the rice and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring frequently until heated through. Add the soy sauce to taste.

Serve immediately.

If you are going to reheat, make sure it is in the fridge within 90 minutes of cooking and that you reheat thoroughly. You will lose the texture of the vegetables in reheating so I would not recommend it.

Diet · Healthy Eating · Uncategorized

Eatwell Plate becomes the Eatwell Guide

Last month the plate diagram, which shows us what a healthy, balanced diet looks like, changed. The new ‘Eatwell Guide’ is:


The change was a result of a review of the latest scientific research as well as consultation with professionals. On the new plate the fruit and vegetables section is slightly bigger than before – still promoting for 5 a day. The food and drinks high in fat and sugar has been removed leaving just an ‘oils and spreads’ section. This shows us that we don’t need foods and drinks high in fat an sugar for a healthy diet. If we do consume them, they should be eaten less often and in small amounts.

The challenge for us all is the same. To eat a diet which has a good variety of fruit and vegetables, base meals on higher fibre or wholegrain starchy foods, have less fat and sugar and eat a few portions of lower fat and sugar dairy foods.

What are your thoughts on the new guide?





FODMAP · Uncategorized

Living on the FODMAP diet

The FODMAP diet is a diet which can reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). FODMAP stands for:

Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) – eg in Artichokes (Globe), Artichokes(Jerusalem), Garlic (in large amounts), Leek, Onion (brown, white, Spanish, onion powder), Spring Onion (white part), Shallots, Wheat (in large amounts), Rye (in large amounts), Barley (in large amounts), Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides. and GOS found in Legume beans (eg. baked beans, kidney beans, bortolotti beans), Lentils, Chickpeas)
Disaccharides (eg. Lactose – eg in Milk, icecream, custard, dairy desserts, condensed and evaporated milk, milk powder, yoghurt, soft unripened cheeses (eg. ricotta, cottage, cream, marscarpone))
Monosaccharides (eg. excess Fructose – eg in Honey, Apples, Mango, Pear, Watermelon, High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt – eg in Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Cherries, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Mushrooms, sorbitol (420), mannitol (421), xylitol (967), maltitol (965) and isomalt (953).

(Source: http://shepherdworks.com.au/disease-information/low-fodmap-diet)

Living on this diet has been a challenge for the last 4 months. This is a diet which should only be undertaken under the supervision of a dietitian.

I did not need to lose weight so I needed to make sure I was getting enough food, and because of a family history of osteoporosis, I needed to be careful I got enough calcium too. Meal ideas on lots of websites were just not enough to sustain.

Here are a few meal ideas:

Shepherd’s pie – use a little gluten free soy sauce instead of the Worcester sauce, and grate parsnip and carrots into the mixture instead of using onion.

Spaghetti bolognese – prick and cook a whole aubergine in the microwave for about 12 minutes, then cut up (including the skin) and add this to cooked mince with tomatoes, grated carrot and courgette, lots of herbs and black pepper (and some red wine if you want).

Polenta pizza. I found it best to cook the base first. This meal is very time consuming!

Aubergine curry – prick and cook a whole aubergine in the microwave for 12 minutes. In a glug of oil fry spices (garam masala, mustard seed, cumin seed, coriander seed, ground ginger – lots of whatever you have), add the cooked aubergine, a tin of chopped tomatoes (and some frozen spinach if you like). Cook for about 20 minutes making sure it doesn’t dry out.

Egg fried rice – cook a packet of microwave rice or regular rice. Meanwhile, put 2 eggs in a pan with a little oil. Cook for a minute or so and then break up. Add a handful of peas or some pak choi or courgette and cook for another minute or so. Add the rice and heat through. You can fry cinnamon, ginger, chilli before you put the eggs in and add soy sauce at the end for extra flavour.

If you have any other meal ideas which don’t cost the earth. Let me know!