Phil Holmes BA (Hons), PGCE, Adv Dip.Nut MRSPH

Well, it’s a BIG step into the unknown for many. As a teacher and nutrition adviser I’ve put the following plan together as an example of how families may structure their ‘school day’. Let me impress upon you that this isn’t the definitive perfect meal choice. It’s a set of suggestions to help you see (a) what would fit with providing wholesome food (b) the cost implications of the weekly provision (c) the inclusion of some ‘attractive’ options such as pizzas. and will (d) provide a range of good nutrients for all.

I’m hoping you can also see how this step back in time allows us the chance to buy ingredients which can be used to make food together and feel that sentimental touch we used to have 30-40 years ago when our mums or grandmas would make some really tasty, nutrition packed meals. In fact for a glimpse at how healthy people looked in the days of home cooked food, check out the album cover from Listen Without Prejudice, or watch Jaws; there are very few overweight youngsters.

So here goes. Hopefully you will be able to follow the structure of this. The cost is per serving. The prices are based on info taken recently from a *discount supermarket or a mid-range regular supermarket. They are approximate costs and my idea of a serving size should be taken with a pinch of common sense. I’ve included options for home baking as I think we should all exploit the extra time available if we don’t need to drive to and from work. It’s a fun way of involving the children and they should be excited to try new ideas. Many of the recipes for home made snacks can be found within the Be-Ro Book. You may have your own versions passed down through families. It’s also amazing to see just how cheap these options are. Good luck, stay safe and please email any questions to

Breakfast choices

2 weetabix with semi-skimmed milk = 24p Porridge with SS milk = 26p *Greek yoghurt & *frozen raspberries / blueberries = 50p Glass of *Smooth Orange Juice = 15p

Lunch choices (all sandwiches use 2 slices of supermarket brand wholemeal)

Wafer thin ham salad sandwich inc mayo = 70p Tuna salad sandwich = 95p Salad with tinned mackerel & 2 salt & vinegar rice cakes = £1.70 Egg mayo sandwich = 40p Heinz soup (if bought in the 6 for £4 offer) = 67p per can 1/2 can soup & ham sand as above = £1.04

Dinner choices

*Chicken fillets Stir Fry = £1.20 *Chicken Thigh Tray Bake with kale, broccoli & sweet potato wedges £1.50 Homemade Pizza (inc pepperoni slices for topping) £3.20 per large pizza Pasta, pesto & chorizo 90p Jacket Potato (large) with baked beans, tuna & cheese fillings £1.15

Desserts (homemade)

Rice pudding (with pudding rice & whole milk) 55p Apple crumble & tinned Devon Custard 95p Bread & Butter Pudding with single cream £1.30 Greek yoghurt & berries 50p Fruit salad made with kiwi, mango, grapes & apple 90p

Snacks (homemade)

Brownies 35p per brownie Rock Buns (my Grandma’s speciality) 8p each Banana loaf £1.20 / loaf Flapjacks 12p each Pop corn made from popping corn! 13p Chopped apple & pear 52p Carrot, cucumber & houmous 50p

Hydration (you’ll see the pattern here!)

Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Milk Milk Water Milk Squash if they are switched off by water

I realise that there will be bigger portions for bigger appetites – but please let me say that eating has become habitual and we don’t NEED to constantly pick at food whilst spending more time sat inside the home in this turbulent time. But as a guide, if we chose a family of 4 to eat the same food in a day, we might see this – weetabix, soup & ham sandwich, stir fry, rice pudding, a brownie each, carrots, cucumber & houmous and apple & pear each = £17.60 for the day. If we ate this for our 5 ‘school days’ we spend £88. I hope this gives you guys some reassurance that planning & budgeting can be attainable.

One way of trying to make this fit with homeschooling is to have a routine:

7.30-8.00 Breakfast 8.00-8.45 wash, dressed, teeth brushed 8.45-9.30 lesson 1 Fruit & water 9.45-10.30 lesson 2 10.30-11.00 break time – in the garden to socially distance but with pet / ball / hosepipe! 11.30 – 12.15 lesson 3 12.15-1.00 lunchtime and outside again 1.00 – 1.45 lesson 4 Snack & water 2.00-2.45 PE any form of jumping, throwing, running, hopping (home designed hopscotch is a winner with younger ones for fundamental balance) 3.00-4.00 Lesson 5 or Home Baking time

Lessons can be broken up within the 45 mins. So could have school set work which will take less time due to lack of class interaction / distraction / teacher questioning. But could allow each child to have 20 mins of their own discovery – eg my son loves ‘real’ topics such as War or certain animals. Let them do their own research. It could also include them choosing their preferred reading material rather than school directed reading books. Let them draw, paint, make, mend, build. It will feel difficult, but where possible, let your children design & lead their curriculum. They will buy into this.

Finally, see this as an exciting time to be together more. Some parents have already said “but my kids won’t….” . This is largely (I believe) our lack of time before Covid-19. We gave easy snacks or cut corners with meals to appease and allow us to deal with the emails, work pressures etc. We have a chance to rebuild the good values. And children are far brighter than we give them credit for. They are aware of this current situation. Now is the time to have their easy buy in to new ideas. Let’s hit this together. As my website suggests: Plan. Design. Tailor. Have patience. Allow children to make mistakes. Resist jumping in too soon to stop this – the worst that happens is they knock over a paint pot or get a few questions wrong; it’s their learning journey and not your job to cushion or even prevent their falls. The young ones will miss their mates. Miss the interaction. Miss the empathy of the teachers. Miss the routine (funnily enough). Don’t make ‘school’ any less fun than this next few months could be. And if you have a year 11 or 13 as a child, allow them to lead the teaching to the younger siblings – they’ll be better at it than most.

Please email if you have any queries. Please enjoy the new opportunities. Please keep this fun. Please stay safe. We’ll be ok folks, we’ll be ok xx