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Healthy, cheap meal ideas for fussy kids

With three kids and two adults sitting down to family meals at my house, I’m mindful to make meals that are not too expensive. A big trick is to buy what’s in season. When corn is freshly in season and really expensive, I just wait a couple of weeks until it comes down to an affordable price. Then, I buy it! Don’t be worried about using canned vegetables too in meals if you need to. I mix up meal ideas throughout the week too i.e. if we eat super healthy for a couple of nights then it’s okay to make home-made pizzas for Friday nights. You can make these reasonably healthy too. I just make these with lots of vegetables and hide corn and lots of coloured capsicum in the toppings.

Mince meal three ways

I dice a big onion, a few pieces of garlic and some fresh rosemary from the garden and add them to some oil in a pot and then cook for several minutes. I then add 1.5kg of mince meat and when this is combined and cooked I put in lots of fresh tomatoes (or canned tomatoes if they are cheaper). I’ll sometimes add spices like a little chilli to the mix. Once this is cooked, I divvy this up into three separate containers.

I then use this as a base for 2-3 meals - one for that night and another two can go in the freezer. For the first batch I’ll add grated carrot, zucchini and lots of washed and sliced up silver beet. I’ll then put kumara mash on top (with a sprinkle of cheese) for a pie. For the second batch, I might add a can of kidney beans and another can of another style of beans, add more chilli, a bit of silver beet. I’ll cook this and then stuff into taco shells, top with a sprinkling of cheese, put brown rice as a side and add a heap of salad. The third meal, I’d add more tomatoes, some beans and top this on nacho chips, sprinkle cheese on top and again add rice on the side and maybe a different style of salad. Obviously, we don’t eat mince for three meals in a row. Two batches go in the freezer for other nights that week.

Tuna cakes

I boil a pot of potatoes and then put diced raw onion, garlic and chopped parsley through this. I then add some grated carrot, cheese and a large tin of tuna. I next roll these into big balls and put them on a plate. I then dip these, one by one, through raw egg and then breadcrumbs. I then fry them in butter and flatten them with a spatula so they cook on two sides. I then add these on a plate with lots of fresh veg or salad. Yum.


These are generally cheap and go a long way, and you can add roasted kumara, carrot, parsnip, garlic to the side. You can cook something like quinoa or rice to help the kumara salad go further and to help everyone feel fuller. If you have fresh parsley or coriander in the garden (or it’s not that expensive) then add it on top.


I try to cook vegetarian meals a couple of times a week. It’s great for the kids’ health and we don’t need as much meat as we generally think. Meat can be expensive too and so eating vegetarian sometimes is a good idea. I cook some pasta and put fresh tomatoes (or cans of tomatoes if they are cheaper) through this and then sprinkle cheese on top. I then add lots of chopped raw vegetables on the side and the kids love all the colours and different tastes on the plate i.e. cucumber, capsicum, carrot, snow peas, and salad.

Check out the Cigna Facebook page for more healthy tips, and visit the Cigna Wellbeing Ambassador page for videos and blogs from Rachel.

Rachel is the director of and you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Disclaimer: The health and wellness information on this page is for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a doctor or nurse. Cigna assumes no responsibility for any circumstances arising out of the use, misuse, interpretation or application of any information supplied in the content. For more information, please read our Community Guidelines.