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#GoodFoodCardiff stories: Emma, on eating well in a small kitchen

I’m Emma and have been a dietitian for 24 years. I work for the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and believe everyone has the right to a healthy balanced diet. I am part of a fantastic team of public health dietitians and support workers. We work with the Food Cardiff partnership to help members deliver practical cooking and nutrition courses as part of the Nutrition Skills for Life programme and we are one of the lead partners delivering Food and Fun. I’m also a mum to three girls so as you can imagine, life can be very busy!

Sometimes it can feel hard to eat well if you don’t have much cooking equipment, but there are lots of options to enjoy good food.

I’ve put together some low cost main meals and light meals ideas that can be made when only a hob, toaster and microwave are available.  Remember to keep healthy, meals should ideally include a food from the ‘beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins’ group, a source of starchy carbohydrate and some fruit or vegetables. It’s also important that we have some calcium rich foods through the day. You can read more about this on the Cooking at Home page.

You can also follow #GoodFoodCardiff for inspiration, and use the hashtag to share your own tips and successes.

Microwave and Hob Cooking

In the microwave …

  • Ready prepared meals. Choose lower salt and saturated fat varieties if possible and serve with some extra vegetables e.g. frozen peas or carrots.
  • Scrambled egg with baked beans and toasted pita bread.
  • Baked beans or spaghetti/spaghetti hoops on toast.
  • Bacon and tomato in a toasted bread roll.
  • Bacon, scrambled egg, mushrooms, warmed tinned tomatoes and toast.
  • Plain, steamed fish (add a little water or milk, cover with clingfilm and pierce then cook for approx 3 minutes) served with frozen vegetables and toast/bread and spread.
  • Jacket potato served with tuna and sweetcorn, baked beans, cream cheese or cheddar and tinned pineapple, tuna and apple, tinned salmon and chopped onion.

On the hob …

  • Soup and a bread roll.
  • Corned beef hash and vegetables.
  • Pasta and a jar of tomato based sauce. Add in some extra vegetables e.g. mushrooms, sweetcorn and some tinned lentils meat or fish.   A home-made pasta sauce can be made easily using onion, tinned tomatoes, mixed herbs and garlic.
  • Vegetable or meat chilli and rice.
  • Spaghetti bolognese.
  • Omelette served with bread/toast and spread – add in fillings available e.g. vegetables, chopped tomato, onion, ham, cheese, tuna, left over potatoes.
  • Boil in the bag fish in sauce with rice and vegetables.
  • Cauliflower cheese served with toast.
  • One pot casseroles and stews (e.g. chicken, sausage, mixed beans, lentils) with added potatoes and any variety of vegetables.
  • Fish cakes or fish fingers and mixed vegetables. For home-made fish cakes – add some tinned tuna to mashed potatoes along with herbs, seasoning and finely chopped onion.  Form into cake shapes and fry (with a small amount of unsaturated oil) on either side until golden brown.
  • Mince, boiled potatoes and vegetables.
  • Tinned ravioli with toast and sweetcorn.
  • Tuna, pasta and sweetcorn salad.
  • Curry and rice e.g. chicken and vegetable.
  • Stir fry e.g. chicken with onions, garlic, carrots, courgette or mushrooms served with noodles.
  • Vegetable risotto.
  • Corned beef, smash and tinned vegetables (in non-salted water if available).
  • Tinned stew with a jacket potato and mixed vegetables.
  • Frankfurter sausages, baked beans and tinned potatoes.

‘No cook’ light meals…

The following light meals could be made with no cooking involved:

  • Crackers or oatcakes with cheese and tomato.
  • Sandwiches e.g. corned beef salad, tuna and onion or beetroot, ham and tomato, salmon and cucumber. Try rolls, bread, pita bread for variety.
  • Tinned tuna or salmon, bread and margarine and tinned sweetcorn.
  • Corned beef, smash and tomato slices.
  • Yogurt mixed with cereal and tinned or dried fruit.
  • Toasted crumpets with peanut butter, followed by tinned fruit and custard.
  • Ham, potato salad (tinned potatoes crushed with a little mayonnaise and chopped onion) and tomato.
  • Salad of tuna, green beans and potato chunks (all tinned varieties – no added salt if available). Add vinegar and black pepper if available.
  • Cold meat e.g. ham, turkey, chicken slices, bread and butter with salad, tinned sweetcorn or tinned butter beans.
  • Cous cous (just needs boiling water), chopped cucumber and smoked mackerel or shredded ham.