Nutritious and healthy: delicious family meals made from lunchboxes cost £1 or less

Nutritious and healthy: delicious family meals made from lunchboxes cost £1 or less

Canned food is usually inexpensive, convenient, has a long shelf life, and reduces the cost and environmental impact of food waste. Even better, the canning process means that many products are nutritional powerhouses.

“You can lower the cost of any meal — and fill your plate with nutrients — by switching fresh food to canned food,” says Dr. Sarah Schenker.

“During the canning process, the cans and their contents are heated, which can reduce the levels of some vitamins, especially vitamin C – but this means that the remaining nutrients are locked up until the can is opened.”

This preserves many of the water-soluble vitamins (including B and C), which are sensitive to heat and air and are often easily lost during home cooking and storage methods. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are not affected by the canning process. Most of the minerals are retained, as are vitamins A, D, E and K.

Some canned foods contain more nutrients than fresh ones. Fish, for example, is canned hours after it’s caught, so you know it’s fresh (and should have more water-soluble B vitamins) than fresh fish, which may travel long distances to reach your supermarket shelf.

Dr. Schenker says the key to creating a balanced, nutritious meal is incorporating a good source of protein (meat, fish, eggs, and legumes) – individually or in combination – along with healthy carbohydrates from whole grains (brown bread, rice or pasta) and plenty of vegetables.

When it comes to canned food, prices can vary – a tin of tomatoes can cost from 28p to £1.10. You’ll pay less if you don’t opt ​​for the round-pull cans, and Dr. Schenker says the cans are usually just as nutritional as the luxury brands: “Although the price may affect the flavor because of the quality of the canned products, it won’t affect the nutrition.”

:: The cost-per-portion figures are calculated by taking the price of a meal cooked from scratch using ingredients from a large online supermarket, and then dividing by the number of portions.



about 60p can

Chickpeas are a source of protein (one can have 30g of protein: the NHS recommends 45g of protein per day for women; 55g for men) and fiber (one can have 24g of fiber: the NHS recommends 30g of fiber per day) In addition to the minerals manganese, copper, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Three spoonfuls make up one of five spoonfuls a day. Pulses have a low glycemic index, so they can help regulate blood sugar levels; Studies show that regular consumption can reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer, including bowel cancer.

Cooking tip: can be eaten straight from the can; It is added to soups and stews instead of meat; Mixed with tahini to make hummus. mashed with herbs to form falafel; Or stirred into salads (which provide vitamin C to help boost iron absorption in chickpeas).

Chickpea and sweet potato curry

Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach provide vitamin C and are a good source of beta-carotene, which is needed for a healthy immune system. This dish is rich in fiber that helps lower cholesterol and improve digestion. Each portion provides you with four out of five a day.

Per serving: 460 calories; 17 g protein 7 g fat 87 g carbs 12 g fiber

Class cost: £1.65


(serves 4)

1 tablespoon of oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon chili flakes

2 teaspoons ginger powder (or a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated)

1 onion cut into thin slices

2 cloves garlic mashed

2 x 400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed

400 grams can tomato

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

500 ml vegetable broth

One bag of spinach leaves

200 gm basmati rice

A handful of fresh coriander leaves


Fry the cumin seeds, chili flakes and onions for 7 minutes or until the onions soften. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another 3 minutes. Add chickpeas, tomatoes and potatoes to the skillet.

Pour over vegetable stock and mix, then cover with a lid and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Invert the spinach leaves and let them wilt for a minute.

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. Served with rice and sprinkled with fresh coriander.


canned tomatoes

about 40p can

It contains vitamins A, C, and K as well as potassium and antioxidants including lycopene and beta-carotene. One-fifth of a can is one in five a day.

The antioxidants in tomatoes help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. The canning process helps break down the tomato’s cell walls, making the nutrients more readily available.

Cooking tip: Cooking tomatoes with a little olive oil enhances the absorption of lycopene and “fat-soluble” beta-carotene.

Sardines Bolognese

This refreshing pasta sauce contains inexpensive sardines as a source of protein. Oily fish is a rich source of omega-3s, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent heart disease. Adding two cans of tomatoes and mushrooms means that one portion of this also provides three cans of five per day.

Per portion: 441 calories; 25g Protein 13g Fat 60g Carbs 12g Fiber

Class cost: 95 p


(serves 4)

350g whole wheat pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion cut into thin slices

2 carrots, finely chopped

3 celery sticks, finely chopped

200 gm mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic mashed

2 x 120 gm tin sardines in tomato sauce

2 x 400 g chopped tomatoes

Large handful of chopped fresh parsley


While the pasta is simmering, gently sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes, until softened. Turn off the heat, add the mushrooms, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add sardines and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave in bubbles for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the fish. Served with spaghetti and sprinkled with parsley.



The addition of soybeans to this delicious rice dish, along with the peas, means this meal is an inexpensive source of high-quality protein. Canned sweet corn boosts the fiber content while providing the antioxidant lutein, which is important for eye health. Each portion provides three of your five meals a day.

Per serving: 469 calories; 19g Protein 11g Fat 79g Carbs 8g Fiber

Class cost: 85 p


(serves 4)

1 teaspoon olive oil

100g chorizo, peeled and cubed

1 chopped onion

350g risotto rice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

400 grams chopped tomatoes

1.2 liters hot chicken stock

150gm frozen peas

150gm frozen soybeans

100gm canned sweet corn


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and heat the chorizo ​​for 1 minute. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, until soft, then add rice and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the vinegar, then add the tomatoes and stir well. Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, stirring the rice until it absorbs the stock. Add the peas, soybeans, and sweet corn with the last scoop of broth. My heart until the rice is cooked.



About 1 pound can

Each can of tuna provides about 25 grams of protein (about half of your daily needs), plus selenium to protect cells from damage, plus iodine and B vitamins, including vitamin B12 needed for healthy blood cells and niacin (vitamin B3). for energy metabolism.

Cooking tip: Choose tuna in spring water instead of oil (109 calories versus 159 calories); It also contains three times more beneficial omega-3 fats than tuna in oil.


This Italian-inspired salad is low in calories and fat but rich in protein and fiber. Canned beans add protein, iron, fiber and calcium. The portion provides three of your five meals a day.

Per serving: 216 calories; 25 g protein 1 g fat 28 g carbs 13 g fiber

Class cost: £1.47


(serves 2)

100gm drained tuna

400g of kidney beans, drained

1 red onion cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

L. juice of half a lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

2 large tomatoes, sliced

Handful of chopped fresh parsley


Mix everything except tomatoes and parsley together, season well with salt and black pepper and leave for 30 minutes. Served on tomato slices, sprinkled with parsley.


tuna burger

This burger is a nutritious and delicious alternative to a beef burger. Adding sweet corn boosts your intake of B vitamins including folic acid, as well as magnesium and potassium as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help protect eye health. With salad entrees, you’ll get two out of five a day.

Per serving: 318 calories 24 g protein 7 g fat 23 g carbs 7 g fiber

Serving cost: £1.20 per burger (plus 15pence salad)


(makes 4)

3 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces

200 gm can of sweet corn, drained

2 x cans of tuna in water, drained

3 finely chopped green onions

1 scrambled egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 whole grain bread rolls

4 lettuce leaves

1 tomato cut into slices


Blend bread and sweet corn in a food processor. Mix it with tuna, eggs and green onions. Season with a little salt and a lot of black pepper, then shape the mixture into four small pieces of equal size. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then cook the burgers for 5 minutes on each side until golden and heated through in the middle. Served with lettuce and tomato slices.



This high-protein, low-fat dish gives you four of your five meals a day and meets the guidelines for a complete and healthy meal – balancing protein (12g-17g), carbs (30g-80g), fat (10g-25g) and fiber (5g-8). gm).

Per serving: 275 calories; 14g Protein 11g Fat 33g Carbs 7g Fiber

Class cost: £1.25


(serves 2)

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 green onions

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon each of chili flakes, cumin and paprika

1 red pepper sliced

400 grams can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 eggs

Handful of chopped parsley

4 slices of rye bread


Saute green onions, garlic and spices for 4 minutes. Add red pepper and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and mash them, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Season to taste. Crack the eggs into the mixture, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with bread.

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