Meal ideas

Planning what to eat

We’ve suggested some ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and pudding. They show you how you can boost your protein and energy intake without having to eat more food. These are only suggestions, but we hope they give you some ideas for ways to adapt your usual meals.

Between meals, you can keep up your energy intake with snacks and drinks. We’ve included some suggestions on those too.

Our recipes for people affected by cancer contain more suggestions for meals suitable for people with weight loss. Within the recipes you will find information about how much protein and energy is in each meal.


  • A fried egg with bacon and a slice of fried bread. Add wholemeal toast with lots of butter.
  • An English muffin or crumpet with lots of butter, and honey or jam. Then have some stewed fruit, such as prunes or apricots, with Greek or full-fat yoghurt.
  • Porridge made with fortified milk and some toast with lots of butter, and jam or honey. Add sugar or honey to the porridge.
  • Yoghurt with nuts, seeds and dried fruit, or dalia (wheat porridge) with butter.
  • Cornmeal porridge and Caribbean hard dough bread with butter.
  • Minced-beef congee or assorted dumplings. Add some deep-fried peanuts.
  • Weetabix® with fortified milk and sugar. Then have toast and spread it with lots of butter and jam.
  • Try drinking fruit juice or tea with every breakfast.


  • A tuna and cucumber sandwich with lots of butter or mayonnaise.
  • A baked potato with grated cheese. Mash the inside of the potato with extra butter. Add a side salad with dressing, mayonnaise or salad cream.
  • A cheese and salad sandwich with wholemeal bread. Be generous with the filling and add mayonnaise.
  • Stuffed paratha or chapati with vegetables or rice, vegetable curry, hard-boiled egg and potato curry. Use ghee or butter for cooking.
  • Steamed red mullet with vegetables.
  • Noodles or plain rice with mixed seafood or meat and vegetables.
  • Chicken soup and a hard-boiled egg sandwich.

Try a rice pudding or some fruit after lunch too.


  • Lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise with cheese. Add a side salad with dressing.
  • Grilled salmon or trout, with new potatoes and green beans. Use tartar sauce and add butter to the vegetables.
  • Roast chicken with potatoes and fresh vegetables. Add butter to the vegetables.
  • Lamb curry with pulses and salad, or khichari (lentils and rice), lentil soup or shorba (lamb and chicken soup).
  • Caribbean chicken with mashed potatoes, callaloo and sweetcorn. Add butter to the vegetables.
  • Winter-melon soup with spare ribs. Add energy supplement to steamed fish with black bean sauce and plain rice.
  • Shepherd’s pie with carrots and peas. Serve with butter and use fortified milk in the mashed potato or grated cheese on top.

See our main course recipes for some simple ideas.


  • Stewed fruit.
  • Fruit crumble.
  • Fruit yogurt or fromage frais – use a full-fat variety.
  • Fresh custard. Make with fresh cream.
  • Fresh fruit such as mango, orange, banana, lychee or pineapple.
  • Fruit trifle – choose a full-fat variety.
  • Rice pudding.

Try adding ice-cream, cream or evaporated milk to the cold puddings, and custard made with fortified milk to hot puddings. You could add sugar or syrup to puddings too. Try making instant desserts with fortified milk.

You could also try some pudding recipes using different ready-made or powdered supplements. Manufacturers of nutritional products often have recipe booklets.

For inspiration, see our quick and easy sweet recipes.


Keep snacks like nuts, pasteurised cheese, fresh and dried fruit, biscuits, crackers, breadsticks and dips, yoghurts or fromage frais handy to nibble if you feel hungry between meals.

If you’re out of the house for some time during the day, for example if you’re going to radiotherapy appointments, think about taking some snacks or a nourishing drink with you.


To add energy and protein to coffee, tea or bedtime drinks, use fortified or full-fat milk instead of water. Or add three teaspoons of a high-energy powder to hot or cold drinks. Ready-made drinks can be drunk straight from the pack, gently heated or used in recipes.

If you can’t face a meal, have a nourishing drink instead. You can also drink these between meals to help you put on weight.

You might like to make your own drinks, such as fruit milkshakes or smoothies. Here are some examples:

  • Fruit smoothie – Blend fresh banana, peaches, strawberries or other soft fruit (fresh or frozen) with fortified milk, fruit juice, ice cream or yoghurt.
  • Milk smoothie – Blend 200ml (7fl oz) of full-fat milk, two tablespoons of milk powder, two scoops of ice-cream and milkshake syrup or powder. You could use Nesquik® or Crusha® and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much to add. Blend until well-mixed and frothy. You can vary the flavour of the ice-cream to match the milkshake syrup or powder.
  • Nutritious milkshake – Mix fortified milk with puréed fruit or a fruit yoghurt and add 2–3 teaspoons of a high-energy powder supplement. A scoop of ice-cream will add extra energy.

Try some of our smoothie recipes, specifically tailored for people with cancer.

Back to Preventing weight loss

The building-up diet

If you’ve lost weight during your cancer treatment, the building-up diet will help provide you with more energy.

Stock your cupboards

There are several types of food that can be particularly helpful in the building-up diet.