Meal ideas for small appetites if malnourished

If you are malnourished and losing weight, it is important to eat a balanced and fortified diet to restore good health. Always talk to your GP if you are concerned about your weight loss and want advice on changing your diet.

Fortifying your foods to increase calories

You get calories in protein foods, fats and oils, starchy foods (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals) and sugar.

To increase your calorie intake, you should:

  • add butter or margarine to your foods
    • spreading thickly on bread and crackers
    • mashing into potatoes or melt on top of vegetables
    • stirring into hot pasta and serve with meat or cheese sauce
    • not using “light” or low fat spreads
  • fry foods such as roast potatoes and chips as they are high in calories and give energy
  • use mayonnaise, salad cream and dressings generously
  • choose whole milk instead of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • add cream to soups, sauces, desserts or porridge
  • grate cheese over scrambled egg, vegetables or potatoes
  • drink  enriched drinks to increase calorie intake

Fortified milk

You should fortify milk by adding skimmed milk powder. This increases protein and calorie content. 

You should whisk between two and four heaped tablespoons (50g/2oz) skimmed milk powder into one pint of whole milk. 

You can use this to:

  • make hot chocolate, coffee, cocoa o rother milky drinks
  • make porridge
  • pour over cereal
  • make white or cheese sauce
  • make milkshakes (add fresh fruit and ice cream for a “thick shake”)
  • make custard, semolina or rice pudding desserts

More ideas to increase your calorie intake

Below is a list of ideas for how to increase your calorie intake during meal times, before bed time and when eating snacks or desserts.

Breakfast

  • porridge, corn or wheat-based cereals
  • toast with margarine or butter and jam, peanut butter and marmalade
  • baked beans or spaghetti on toast or bread
  • scrambled, boiled, fried or poached egg on bread or toast
  • glass of fresh orange juice or whole milk or piece of fruit with cream

Light meal

  • macaroni cheese with grated cheese and tomato
  • creamy soup with grated cheese or cream and a roll or sandwich
  • cheese, baked beans, peanut butter, tinned spaghetti or sardines on toast
  • jacket potato with butter or margarine, cheese and baked beans, tuna and mayonnaise or creamy mushroom sauce
  • cauliflower cheese with potatoes, or wheaten bread
  • sausage rolls, pasties, Scotch egg or meat pie with baked beans, bread or chips
  • sandwich made with margarine or soft butter, cheese or mayonnaise and filling such as tinned fish, cold meat, cheese, prawns or boiled egg with salad
  • quiche and garlic bread

Main meal

  • chicken pie, potatoes and vegetables
  • sausages, baked beans and mashed potatoes
  • any ready meal
  • poached fish with potatoes and tinned or frozen vegetables
  • shepherd’s pie/cottage pie or Irish stew

Bed time

  • hot milky drink, cocoa or hot chocolate made with whole milk

Ideas for snacks and desserts

  • desserts such as milk pudding, stewed fruit and custard, sponge and custard, fruit fool, fromage frais, semolina, egg custard, mousse, milk jelly, ice cream, rice pudding, custard and thick and creamy yoghurt
  • soft fruit with cream or ice-cream
  • tray bakes, buns and pastries, chocolate éclairs, doughnuts and croissants
  • biscuits for example chocolate covered biscuits, shortbread, flapjacks or cookies
  • toasted crumpets, barmbrack, malt loaf, scones, pancakes topped with butter, jam, honey or cheese

Other helpful tips

  • it is useful to keep a store of some basic foods in case you are not able to get to the shops for example long life milk, tinned meat, ready meals, hot chocolate, tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables, cereals and biscuits
  • if preparing food is too much, use a meal delivery services or ask friends and family for help in shopping, preparing and cooking meals
  • try to have company at meal times

More useful links

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