Family-friendly meal ideas

Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital
28 December 2023
Next review due December 2026

If you’ve got a busy life, you’ll be familiar with the challenges that mealtimes can bring. It can feel tricky to feed your family healthy, tasty food without spending hours in the kitchen. But there are ways to make life easier.

Here, I’ll share with you some family favourites that are easy to make and nutritious to eat. I’ll also give you some top tips for making family cooking less stressful.

person cutting veg

How can I feed my family for less?

Eating healthy can be expensive. But there are lots of tips for keeping costs down whilst saving you time.

Cook once, eat twice

Firstly, consider cooking once and eating twice. This means aim to cook enough food to last two or more meals. If you’re worried that your family will get bored of eating the same thing, you could freeze your leftovers for another day.

Alternatively, why not make life more interesting by using your leftovers creatively? For example, you could turn leftover risotto into crispy risotto balls, or use excess vegetables in a pasta sauce.

Use frozen vegetables

If you’re short of time, consider adding pre-chopped frozen veg to meals. This saves you the effort of chopping, whilst retaining the nutritional value of your food.

If your family is a little fussy where veg is concerned, you could try blending vegetables and adding them to family favourites such as chilli or bolognaise sauces.

Keep it veggie

Do some family members like fish or meat, while others prefer veggie meals? Why not try making the same base to your meals and then just adding an air-fried (or oven-baked) fish or meat portion for those who want it? This is easier than cooking completely separate meals.

By keeping the bulk of your meal veggie, you’ll also be increasing your family’s intake of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Jerked chicken pieces and couscous one pot (including vegetables)

Follow the recipe below, or you can also watch how to make it in this video by registered dietitian, Tai Ibitoye.

jerk chicken couscous


(serves 4 to 5)

  • 400g couscous
  • 350g diced chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen sliced mixed peppers
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, and sweetcorn)
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic power
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp paprika


  • In a bowl, combine the diced chicken breasts with nutmeg, garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, brown sugar, thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil. Ensure that the diced chicken breasts are well seasoned.
  • Add the chicken to a hot pan with olive oil and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, for around 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Add mixed bell peppers and vegetables in the hot pan.
  • While the chicken is cooking, in a medium saucepan, add the water (for the couscous) and the garlic powder and ginger.
  • Add the couscous and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and remove from the heat.
  • Set aside for around 5 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
  • Combine the chicken breasts, mixed bell peppers, and vegetables with couscous.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Sweet potatoes curry with rice and beans

Follow the recipe below, or you can also watch how to make it in this video by registered dietitian, Tai Ibitoye.

sweet potato curry with rice and beans


(serves 3 to 4)

  • 400g chopped tomatoes, canned
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • mixed bell peppers (frozen)
  • 1 courgette (wonky versions are cheaper)
  • 1 can reduced or low-fat coconut milk
  • 400g black beans, canned
  • 400g Basmati rice

Method: Making the rice

  • Cook the rice per instructions in the package.
  • When the rice is nearly fully cooked, add black beans into the rice and cook further for 3 minutes.

Method: Making the sweet potato curry

  • In a wok or a pot, heat olive oil for about 2 minutes and add in the onions, tomatoes, and mixed bell peppers.
  • Lower heat to medium for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the sweet potatoes, stirring to combine. Add in the spices and stir for about 30 seconds in the heat.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health and a view of any future health risks. You'll receive a personal lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a happier, healthier you.

Niamh Hennessy
Niamh Hennessy
Lead Dietitian, Cromwell Hospital



Julia Ebbens, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Major report highlights impact of Britain’s disastrous food policy. The food foundation., released July 2022
    • Eat well, spend less. British Association of Dietitians., last updated April 2021
    • Fruit and vegetables, how to get five a day. British Association of Dietitians., last updated August 2020
    • Vegetarian, vegan and plant-based diet. British Association of Dietitians., last updated April 2021

About our health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. This is because we believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and wellbeing.

Our information has been awarded the PIF TICK for trustworthy health information. It also follows the principles of the The Information Standard.

The Patient Information Forum tick

Learn more about our editorial team and principles >

Did you find our advice helpful?

We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our healthy lifestyle articles.

Content is loading