Food shopping during self-isolation has proven to be challenging for many people - particularly parents - who are struggling to get into the supermarket, and then struggling to find many of the ingredients on their list. With the kids at home all day, planning meals for the week ahead can be a daunting prospect - particularly when you have to worry about preparing three healthy and nutritious meals every day.
In order to help make this time less stressful, we have created a 7-day meal planner, which is full of healthy, easy recipes that the family will love. The recipes use mostly cupboard essentials and basic ingredients, as well as being flexible and versatile, so that you can swap out ingredients depending on what you have in the house, what vegetables your kids prefer eating - or what they had in the supermarket. Many of the recipes in this list can be made in big batches so that you can freeze or refrigerate the leftovers to be enjoyed on another day - saving you from having to cook a new meal from scratch twice a day.
Lunch: Pasta bake in tomato sauce, topped with melted cheese is a great lunchtime treat, which is quick and easy to make with whatever vegetables that you have in the house. This recipe freezes well - so double up, and keep half in the freezer to eat later. Follow this simple recipe for cheese and tomato pasta bake from BBC Good Food, and remember that you can swap and substitute different vegetables depending on what the kids like, what needs eating up, or what they had in the supermarket. Depending how much time you have, you can make your own pasta sauce, or use a ready made sauce. If you do make your own tomato sauce, consider making extra to freeze - as it can be used in lots of other recipes, or as the base for a spaghetti bolognese or vegetable soup.
Dinner: Hit 'n' Run Traybaked Chicken by Jamie Oliver is a hearty and nutritious family dinner. Cooked on one tray, this dinner is simple to prepare and doesn't require lots of washing up - especially if you line the tray with baking parchment. The recipe is based on store cupboard essentials, which are throw together and baked for just over an hour. Cook more chicken that needed for dinner, so you have some pre-cooked chicken ready to go.
Whilst the oven is on, why not roast a whole cauliflower, which will be kept aside for Tuesday night's cauliflower cheese. Simply rub the cauliflower with a olive oil and salt, place on a tray or tin and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
If using chicken thighs for your tray bake, why not use the bones and scraps to make home-made stock - which is a nutritious alternative to stock cubes. Chicken stock can be used in soups and sauces - and it can be frozen for use at a later date. Follow the easy method by The Spruce Eats for perfect chicken stock from your leftover bones.
Lunch: Chicken wraps are a great choice for lunch - simply prepare the ingredients, and let the kids make their own wraps. Follow the BBC Good Food recipe for Chicken Roll-Ups or feel free to use whatever vegetables and sauces that you have in the house. This meal is quick, healthy and versatile - and a firm favourite with the kids.
Dinner: Make a delicious cauliflower cheese for dinner - quickly whisking up a simple white sauce to cover the pre-cooked cauliflower. Using only food cupboard essentials, the white sauce is ready in under 10 minutes - and the whole dish only needs 20 minutes in the oven before it's ready to eat. If you didn't have time to roast a cauliflower the night before, then cut the cauliflower into florets and boil for 5 minutes - or until cooked. For the full recipe for this family favourite, visit the BBC Good Food website.
Why not make extra white sauce, which can be kept in the fridge, and used later in the week for a lasagne. Cover any leftover sauce with a layer of clingfilm that touches the surface (as this will stop it forming a skin) - and keep in the fridge for up to 4 - 5 days.
Lunch: A delicious stir-fry veg with rice takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to end, and it's a great way to get the kids to eat lots of different vegetables. Follow the recipe on The Recipe Critic website and remember that stir-fry's are a really versatile meal choice - you can use any veg that you want, and all you need from the store cupboard for a basic version is olive oil, soy sauce and garlic.
Make some extra stir-fry veg, and keep them in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.
Dinner: Cottage pie is loved by all the family - and the Hairy Bikers have a great recipe for a delicious, healthy version. Packed with vegetables, this recipe serves eight - and leftovers keep in the fridge for up to two days.
If you made extra tomato sauce earlier in the week (for the Monday lunch pasta bake) then simply use this leftover sauce to cook the mince in. And consider making extra mince, keeping it back for Thursday night's lasagne...
Lunch: Flatbreads, hummus and leftover stir-fry vegetables makes for a quick and easy lunchtime meal. Re-heat the leftover stif-fry veg from yesterday's lunch, and serve with flatbreads and hummus. You can use pitta bread or naan breads if you don't have flatbread, and add in any veg or salad that needs eating up. To make this delicious lunch from scratch, follow the recipe for Veggie Hummus Flatbread by Toaster Oven Love.
Dinner: Lasagne is a fun meal to make as a family - layering the pasta and sauces to make a delicious dinnertime treat. Follow the BBC Good Food recipe for their Easiest Ever Lasagne, and skip the step for making the mince if you are using leftovers from last night's Cottage Pie. This is also a good chance to use up any spare white sauce from Tuesday night's cauliflower cheese.
Lunch: Make a batch of coconut noodle soup, which only uses a few essential foods from the kitchen, like soy sauce, coconut milk, rice noodles and chicken stock. Follow this quick four-step recipe on Parents.com. A great recipe for using the home-made chicken stock from Monday night's leftovers - but stock cubes will work just as well. If you don't have cooked chicken in your fridge, you can always add more vegetables to bulk up the soup.
Dinner: Crock Pot pork roast and potatoes by Sweet Phi uses only 5 ingredients, and can be prepared in five minutes. If you have a slow cooker - or 'crock pot' - then this meal will need to be cooked for 4 hours - but, if you don't own a slow cooker, then you could also cook it in a casserole dish in the oven.
Lunch: Follow the infographic recipe on the Epicurious for the ultimate, easy frittata. This versatile dish can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner - it can be eaten straight away, or prepared ahead of time and served cold (or, even better, at room temperature). Make a basic frittata using only store cupboard essentials - eggs, milk, olive oil and onions - then get creative, customising the recipe by adding cooked vegetables, herbs, cheese or any leftovers you have in the fridge.
Dinner: Chilli con Carne is perfect for batch cooking - the chilli can be used in lots of different ways, and it freezes well. Although the recipe calls for lots of ingredients, they are mostly cupboard essentials - like tinned tomatoes, tinned kidney beans and spices. The recipe is really flexible, so you can swap out ingredients for what you have in the house. Follow Jamie Oliver's classic recipe which makes enough for eight - and freeze the leftovers, or keep them in the fridge for using for beef tacos for tomorrow's lunch.
Lunch: Beef tacos are a great way to use up leftover chilli con carne, as well any salad or vegetables that need using up. To prepare the tacos from scratch, follow Jamie Oliver's recipe - which uses kitchen essentials like onion, garlic, bell peppers and olive oil, or simply assemble the tacos using reheated chilli con carne, topped with salsa, guacamole and crunchy salad.
Dinner: Curry is one of the most versatile family meals. You can make a delicious curry with chicken, beef, prawns or just vegetables - and you can use tinned tomatoes or coconut milk as the base for the sauce. Serve your curry with rice, couscous or naan breads - or whatever you have in the cupboard. Follow Kidspot's four-step recipe for a quick and easy chicken, tomato and spinach curry which uses store cupboard staples like olive oil, ground spices and tinned tomatoes, as well as spinach (frozen or fresh).