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Eating well at home

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Food & Eating Planning meals and cooking

Sometimes do you dread the words ‘I’m hungry’? Especially if they come shortly after your kid’s left half their lunch on the side of their plate! Here are some tips for keeping everyone fed throughout the day, and for getting the kids involved in planning and preparing meals – which means they’ll be more likely to eat them!

Tips for feeding hungry tummies

Top tips from parents

"Chop up different kinds of fruit and veg at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge so the kids can always have a healthy snack."

-    Vicki, mum from Perth

"When my son tries to avoid veggies, I’ve come up with a few ways of making sure he still gets some by blending them into my ‘go-to’ pasta sauce. By mixing together tomatoes, garlic, peppers, grated carrot, mushrooms, celery and stock, I cook up big batches up of this sauce and divide it into jars to use in a range of recipes throughout the week. In my experience, it is much easier to try and get inventive with food rather than have fights at the dinner table every day."

-    Lorna, mum from Paisley

Getting the kids involved

Hands up if your wee one will only eat 3 things? Getting the kids involved in planning and preparing meals is a great way to get them more interested trying new foods. If they’ve helped cook it, they’re far more likely to eat it!

You can find more tips on our pages about fussy eating.

Tips for getting the kids involved

Top tips from parents

"Get your kids involved in the cooking process – I’ve found that they’re more likely to eat new meals if they’ve helped make it."

-    Erin, mum from Hamilton

“My kids and I like to sit down together and plan meals for the week ahead. Meal planning is a great way for the kids to see the entire process of cooking from scratch. My kids love to go to the shops with me and choose the kinds of fruit and veg we will have. The kids also help me prepare recipes so that they can see how you can take a raw ingredient and use it to make soup, chilli or a sauce. It gives them a great perspective into how the cooking process works.”

-    Agnes, mum

Some simple meal ideas

Use our recipe finder to look for dishes that use the ingredients you have in your kitchen. The Greener Scotland website also has a useful recipe finder.

Here are some of our favourite Parent Club recipes:

Top ‘fakeaway’ recipes

Photo of chicken nuggets

Photo of chicken nuggets

If the kids are crying out for a takeaway, why not try one of these healthier alternatives? And even better, these are often cheaper than getting a takeaway!

“Try making a 'fakeaway' – our favourite is homemade chicken goujons and fish fingers. They’re much healthier than the fast food version and so simple to make. Plus, you can make them ahead of time and freeze them to use later."

-    Lucy, mum from Dundee

Feeding your baby

If your little one is under 12 months old, the best nutrition you can give them is breastmilk. If you’re formula feeding, first stage formula should be used for babies up to 6 months old. After 6 months, they can have follow-on milk and after 12 months full fat milk can also be introduced into the diet.

For more information about weaning and first foods visit our first foods articles

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has a number of important functions and is needed to support bone and muscle health. Vitamin D is made by our skin from sunlight. It's also found in small amounts in some foods, but it's difficult to meet recommended intakes of vitamin D from diet alone. In Scotland, we only get enough of the right kind of sunlight for our bodies to make vitamin D during the summer months.

Normally, 10–15 minutes of unprotected Scottish sun exposure is safe for all. Once sunscreen is correctly applied, vitamin D synthesis is blocked. Staying in the sun for prolonged periods without the protection of sunscreen increases the risk of skin cancer. 

Since it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, everyone (including children) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D. You can usually find this in your local supermarket or chemist. 

If you’re at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, it’s particularly important to take a daily supplement. Higher risk groups include:

  • all pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • children under 5 years old
  • people who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example, people who cover their skin for cultural reasons, are housebound, confined indoors for long periods or live in an institution such as a care home
  • people from minority ethnic groups with dark skin such as those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin, who require more sun exposure to make as much vitamin D.

If you’re pregnant, you can get Healthy Start vitamins, which contain Vitamin D, for free. Ask your midwife for further information. Women and children up to 3 years old can also get free Vitamin D supplements. Please contact your health visitor for more information. 

Children under 5, including breastfed babies, should be given a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D all year round, to make sure they get enough. If your baby drinks around a pint of formula milk per day, you don’t need to give them a supplement, as formula already has added vitamin D.

You can find out more about Vitamin D here.

Tips for making healthy choices

If you're aiming to make more healthy choices when you're shopping or cooking, the Eat Well, Your Way website from Food Standards Scotland has lots of helpful tips.

Last updated: 9 Oct, 2023