October meal plan 3 – Basic cooking skills

October meal planner 3 - cooking skills

October meal planner 3 - cooking skillsAre your cooking skills up to scratch or do you feel your cooking skills are completely inadequate for creating delicious healthy meals? Have you ever asked yourself what cooking skills you need to produce healthy meals for your family day in day out?

Surprisingly, not as many as cookery books and television programmes would have us believe. After teaching basic, confident and foodie cooks over the last 25 years, the basic skills I feel would get you by quite adequately without the family feeling hard done by include – roasting a chicken or joint of meat with accompanying roast vegetables, and stewing or casseroling – which I would always cook the day before and preferably alongside the roast.

For a fast healthy meal, you can’t beat a stir fry, so I would include this as an important cooking skill to have. Cooking vegetables to retain their flavour and goodness is important as is, making a basic roux for sauces. Finally, knowing how to use and store leftovers safely, to create delicious meals whilst reducing food waste and saving money is vital.  All these skills are included in this week’s meal plan.

About our family meal planner
This week’s family meal planner
Shopping list

Did you know most of us spend more time watching cookery programmes on the TV than actually cooking? We spend less than 35minutes cooking on average and 1 hour watching. However when we encourage our children to be involved in the cooking process they are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults simply because they get to enjoy cooking at a younger age and have a better understanding of the skills involved in meal making.

About our family meal planner

The meal plans for the week are inclusive of animal and plant protein such as fish, white meat, red meat and eggs. You’ll find nuts, chickpeas, cheese and seeds on the meatless day. Sian comments that the secret to affordable, healthy meals is to plan ahead to make sure you are stress-free, and have the right ingredients in the correct amounts in your kitchen ready to cook.

These family meal planners are made up of dinners that are child friendly, forming part of a weekly balanced diet. It will give you plenty of nutrients from each of the food groups (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals), says Sian.

Every week, Sian provides you with five simple recipes to plan. You can decide when to make them, on whichever day suits you best. There is also a shopping list (below) that can be printed ready to take with you to the supermarket.

This week’s meal planner

Shopping list

Beef, poultry, fish

Stewing Steak – 100g
Whole Chicken  (use leftovers for stir fry) – 3.5 kg
Tin Salmon or Tuna – 1
Cereals  Grains  Pasta
Macaroni or pasta of your choice – 120g
Plain Flour – 6 tblsp
Noodles – 1pack
Self raising Flour – 200g
Semolina   (optional) – 200g

Dairy and egg products

Butter – 250g
Cheese – 180g
Eggs – 6
Milk – 700mls

Fats and Oils

Butter or Flora Green – 210g
Olive or vegetable oil – 4 tblsp


Fresh Pineapple   ( use for stir fry and upside down pudding) – 1
Lemons – 2
Apples Eating – 250g or 4
Lime – 1
Orange – 1

Herbs and spices

Thyme – 1 Bunch
Allspice – 1tsp
Paprika – 3tblsp
Nutmeg – 4 pinches 
Dry Mustard (optional) – 1 tsp
Fresh Parsley – 1 Bunch

Nuts and Seeds

Cashew Nuts  (optional) – 25g


Potatoes – 2.5kg
Spring Onions – 8
Cauliflower – 1
Garlic – 1
Onions – 8
Cabbage  (use for stir fry and day 2 side dish) – 1               
Carrots – 6
Red Cabbage (small) – 1

Store Cupboard

Sweet Chilli Sauce – 1 tblsp
Tomato Puree – 2 tblsp
White wine vinegar – 1tblsp
Coconut milk  (optional) – 1 tin


Brown Sugar – 180g

Sian is a home economist with over 25 years experience as a secondary school teacher and now running her own private cookery school with a focus on meal planning. After years of seeing people struggling to provide healthy meals everyday for their families, she created her own meal planning system at Siansplan.com.