How to make healthy family meals from store cupboard essentials - according to a child nutritionist

Many of us are currently using store cupboard ingredients to create meals - but how can we continue to make sure that what we're feeding our kids is good for them?

Here, Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a leading baby and child nutritionist, shares her top tips for making healthy family meals from store cupboard ingredients.

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At this time finding ingredients can be tricky. That's why I always try and find inventive ways to use some of those store cupboard staples that are hanging around at the back of your cupboards to make family meals.

Some of my top store cupboard staples include:


Packed with energy and nutrients these little powerhouses are also cheap, easy to get hold of and fantastic to use as an ingredient.

Recipes: Think baking (oatcakes and bread making), Puddings (flapjacks and crumbles) and breakfast (porridge and pancakes).

Dried beans/lentils

I always have an unused pack of these hanging around in my cupboard. These foods are filling as they are usually high in fibre, as well as other nutrients such as iron, B vitamins and zinc. They also help to bulk out foods and make meals go further - perfect for this tough time we are in when some foods are short.

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Recipes: Try adding them to one pot meals, stews, pasta sauces and curries. Usually it's just a matter of chucking them in with your usual ingredients and letting them cook. Try lentil and butternut squash mash for baby.

Tinned fish

Tinned fish (if you can get hold of it right now) is a really simple, nutrient-dense option to add to your shopping list. It lasts a long time in your cupboards and you can buy lots of varieties - sardines, tuna, mackerel and salmon, for example. All of these (except tuna) are a source of all important omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to the normal functioning of the heart.

Recipes: Again you can add these to stews and also mash them in with a pasta bake or make them into easy bake fish cakes as well as just spread them onto some nice bread/toast. Try to opt for versions tinned in plain tomato sauce, oil or water, rather than those in brine or with added salt.

Peanut butter

If you can buy this in large tubs, it really can last a while. One hundred per cent peanut butter and smooth varieties are best for families with small children.

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Recipes: Adding a dollop of peanut butter to stir fries, porridge, baking or simply stirring it into yogurt and adding to a pancake helps to add flavour to your meals as well as a little extra dose of nutrients and energy.

Tinned tomatoes

Always a staple in my house, I use tinned tomatoes for making so much.

Recipes: First of all my basic tomato sauce recipe, which is the basis for so many other recipes including hot pot, spaghetti bolognese or chillies.

Free range eggs

Another fab one to help make quick family meals.If you are struggling to get eggs, try local farms and farm shops, but if you’re offering eggs to baby, make sure they are cooked all the way through if they don’t have the red lion stamp on them.

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Recipes: Omelettes and frittatas and even veggie breakfast muffins. They are also fab for pancakes, baking and making more fancy meals like egg fried rice or shakshuka.


Such an underrated vegetable but an easy one to include in your diet regularly.

Recipes: Add them to pies, mash them up on the side of some fish or throw them in an omelette.

More recipe ideas

Crumbles - use leftover fruits and add an oatie/crumbly topping to finish it off.

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One pots - add your leftovers and a couple of tins from the cupboard to a pot and let it cook - great for the whole family with a slice of bread too.

Omelettes - again leftover veggies and some potatoes. If you have any top with a little cheese for super balanced meal.

Fish pie - use tinned fish and some leftover veggies to make into a middle and top with mashed potato.

Porridge - Add any fruits (including frozen options) you have lying around and add to a big pot of oats, milk and for extra flavour throw in a dollop of peanut butter too.

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Tops tips live from home

Tune in at 7:30pm on Wednesday 8 April for The Baby Show Live’s second #wednesdaywellness Instagram Live chat, as Nutrition Consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed will be answering your questions.

During this time of uncertainty, The Baby Show team still want to be available to help new parents and parents to be, with any concerns, tips, and any useful information that they can share while isolating in the coming weeks and months.