With the coronavirus lockdown still in place across the UK, families have been doing more home cooking than ever.
Breakfast clubs, school dinners and eating out are off the menu, with parents having to get creative to come up with meals to feed the family every day.
Many people will have been forced to cut their shopping budget too if they’re out of work or on furlough.
The government has launched an initiative allowing some parents to claim free school meal supermarket vouchers worth £15, which can be spent in Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi and Marks and Spencer.
Now M&S nutritionist Laura Street has worked out a meal plan parents can follow, which means you can feed two kids for a week, for under £15, according to the Mirror.
She said: "Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps keep children healthy, gives them energy, and helps them to concentrate on school work and to be alert.
"Although we're facing challenging times, it's worth trying to embed a few healthy habits where you can – and hopefully these tips and recipe ideas will help you do that.
"If you’re at home more, smaller habits repeated each day can really stick. But the main thing is not to be too hard on yourself. The 80/20 rule is a good one to keep in mind – if you can encourage children to eat a balanced diet around 80% of the time, you’re on to a winner!"
Five lunches for two kids for £15
Each meal recipe serves two children
Monday – Easy, cheesy pasta
Cook a couple of large handfuls of pasta and stir in half a jar of tomato & basil pasta sauce. Refrigerate the remaining sauce for tomorrow’s lunch.
Serve with two slices of cheddar cheese crumbled on top.
Enjoy with one banana each.
Top tip: To make healthy banana ice cream, freeze two sliced bananas in a sealed container then whizz in a food processor until super creamy.
Tuesday – Tortilla pizzas and salad
Spread the remaining tomato and basil sauce over two wraps, then top with a sliced pepper and sliced cheddar cheese.
Pop under the grill until the cheese has melted.
Meanwhile, grate three carrots and slice two tomatoes. Stir together to make a crunchy salad.
Wednesday – Picnic
Make a tasty pasta salad by cooking two handfuls of pasta. Toss with a tin of drained tuna and three quartered tomatoes.
Chop two carrots and a pepper into chunks for some crunchy snacks.
Enjoy with a pot of fromage frais and a banana each.
Top tip: Lay out a rug inside, in your garden or on the balcony to enjoy a picnic lunch – you could even invite some teddy bears too. Serve the leftover tuna with pasta for dinner (it needs to be eaten within two days).
Thursday – Speedy cheese and tomato toasts
Arrange slices of cheddar and one sliced tomato on top of two slices of bread (like all M&S bread, it contains vitamin D). Grill until bubbling.
Enjoy with a pot fromage frais each.
Top tip: Keep bread in the freezer to help it last longer. If you've got some leftover, blitz stale bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs that can be used as a crunchy topping for pasta bakes.
Friday – Fish finger sandwiches
Cook M&S chunky breaded cod fish fingers according to the pack instructions. Serve in slices of bread. Add your kids’ favourite sauce from the fridge if you like.
Enjoy with a pot fromage frais each.
Top tip: If you fancy mixing things up, try serving the fish fingers in wraps instead.
Laura’s top tips to get your kids eating healthy meals
Role modelling: While we’re at home, we have a unique chance to sit and eat together for at least one meal a day, so use the opportunity to display the kind of eating behaviours you’d like to see in your child.
Get kids involved: If they help prepare meals, they’ll take pride in the food, and will be more likely to tuck in.
Talk to them about food: Try making fruit and veggies the topic of your dinner time conversation. Discuss which you’ve eaten that day, and how you plan to fit in your five-a-day tomorrow.
Help them understand waste: Most schools talk about the environment and food waste – strike up a conversation to see what knowledge your child has of it, and if they have any creative recipe ideas to use up leftovers.
Get creative: Presentation has a big impact, so make food as appealing and varied as you can – kids will enjoy helping, too.
1 jar tomato & basil pasta sauce
1 pack (6) soft tortilla wraps
1 loaf (750g) best of both bread
1 can of tuna
2 red peppers
1 pack kids fromage frais
1 pack (10) mature cheddar slices
1 pack breaded cod fish fingers
1 bag (500g) carrots
1 pack (6) round tomatoes