Healthy Family Meals

Healthy Family Meals For A Whole Week

Planning meals for the week may be one of the less exciting chores on your list, but taking the time to do it will almost certainly pay off in the end.

First and foremost, planning ahead can very often save you from having to figure out what to cook every evening - and often, from having to cook at all. That can be a real winner on those busy midweek nights, especially when you’re short of time and low on energy or inspiration.

Benefits of Cooking in Bulk

Benefits of Cooking in Bulk

Secondly, bulk cooking to a schedule tends to work out so much cheaper than just buying that night's ingredients on a whim.

Not only can you shop far more economically and efficiently if you know exactly what you’ll be using, but a solid plan for the week’s meals means you can factor leftovers into your batch cooking. This will often mean you get two meals - or even three - for the cost and effort of making one.

That’s the idea behind these two recipes for family dinner ideas we’ve suggested below. They’re both one-pot dishes that you should be able to spin out as leftovers into five nights’ worth of tasty dinners. That means healthy family meals for a full working week, and you only have to cook twice!

Slow-Cook Beef Chilli

Slow-Cook Beef Chilli

The real beauty of this lazy Sunday recipe is that you barely have to pay it any attention while cooking, bar the occasional stir - it’s a simple hob classic. Furthermore, you can make so many different sorts of meals from the leftovers throughout the week.

After you’ve served up your first dinner as a regular chilli and rice dish, it’s completely up to you what you do with the remainder. It will certainly get you through three weeknight suppers, and no two meals need be exactly alike. Our favourite uses for leftover chilli include:

  • topping it with cheesy mash to make a spicy baked shepherd’s pie
  • rolling it into zingy wraps with spinach, avocado and fresh lime
  • mixing it up with any other vegetables or cheeses you like, and using it to stuff sweet potatoes or butternut squash ready for roasting

This recipe makes enough for 6-8 portions, or three hearty meals for two. It also freezes really well.


  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g jar or carton of tomato passata
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin of any other beans you like - try pinto, black eyed, adzuki or borlotti
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 350ml beef stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder, or 4 squares of dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: a handful of grated cheddar, to serve


  1. On the hob over a medium heat, warm 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Add in your onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 min until just starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 sec to 1 min, then remove from the heat.
  2. Place a large, deep, lidded saucepan over a medium-high heat, and warm the oil until shimmering. Carefully tip in half your ground beef and start to brown it, stirring continuously to break it all up evenly. This should take 6-7 minutes.
  3. Remove the browned meat, onions and garlic from the pan, then add the rest of the beef to the saucepan and brown that too. (Doing it in two batches helps it brown more quickly and evenly.) When the second batch of beef is also browned, tip all the meat and the onion/garlic mix back into the large deep saucepan.
  4. Add your dry spices and sugar. Let everything heat up again together for a couple of minutes over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and then add all the rest of your ingredients except for the beans. (They’re already cooked before canning, so they’ll end up mushy if you throw them in from the start).
  5. Drop the temperature to a low setting, give everything a stir, then place a lid on the pan and let it simmer away very gently for anywhere from 2-3 hours. When there’s just 10-15 min cooking time left, add the beans to the pot, stir again, and let them heat through until you’re ready to serve up

Classic Tomato Pasta

Classic Tomato Pasta

This is a ‘proper’ version of a very simple, classic and delicious pasta recipe - the point being, you can reuse the extra portions later in the week as a fantastic base recipe, adapting it into more or less any other type of pasta dish you like.

Turning it into a cheesy tuna pasta bake is one simple and tasty way of putting the leftovers to great use. Alternatively, you can add pretty much any additional ingredients you like to switch up the flavours for second or third helpings. Spinach, courgettes, peas, cheese, chicken, spicy sausage, olives, artichokes, name it, it probably works!

The base recipe will keep just fine in the fridge for 3-4 days. You might like to portion it out right after cooking, for even easier meal prep later in the week.

Makes enough for 6-8 helpings, or three hearty meals for two.


  • 500g dried wholewheat pasta - spaghetti is most traditional, but think about how you’re likely to be using the leftovers, and choose your variety based on that
  • 1 kg of fresh ripe tomatoes (if in season), diced - otherwise use 2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes, and a glug of extra passata if you’d like an even more intense flavour
  • 1 medium-large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 15-20g grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Pick off a small handful of basil leaves, leaving a few intact for serving. Roughly chop the remainder, taking care to chop any stalks more finely.
  2. Place a fairly large saucepan over a medium heat, and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Sauté the onion gently for about 6-7 min, stirring regularly, until softened and translucent but not browned. Add the garlic and any chopped basil stalks, and cook for another 1-2 min or so, stirring continuously.
  3. Add in your tomatoes, along with the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 min over a medium heat, stirring regularly. You should see the volume of liquid reducing, which means the flavours will be starting to intensify. After 15 min or so, add in your chopped basil leaves and stir, then lower the heat and leave it just barely simmering for another 10-15 min.
  4. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the packet instructions in a large saucepan of boiling water, seasoned well with a generous pinch of salt. Be wary of overcooking the pasta, especially as we’re planning to reheat it for leftovers. Try a piece of pasta a minute or two before the time is up, and see if you can take it off the heat right as it’s reaching ‘al dente’.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain it but reserve about half a cup of the salted cooking water. Tip your spaghetti back into the pot, and pour over your reduced tomato sauce (it should now be quite thick and rich - if not, give it another couple of minutes at a higher heat). If you need to, you can add a small splash or two of the reserved salted pasta water back into the pan at this point: it will help loosen and mix the pasta and thickened sauce, as well as helping to bring all the flavours together. Again, don’t overdo it; you don’t want it to be too runny.
  6. Portion the pasta out for leftovers now if you’d like; it’ll be easier than waiting until it’s cold. For any that you’re serving immediately, add a grating of Parmesan cheese over the top, a final drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh ground black pepper. Finally, top each bowl with a couple of the reserved whole basil leaves, and serve.

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