HEALTHY eating should not mean having to spend hours in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove to create complicated meals with weird and wonderful ingredients. Who has the time or energy for that?
I am a big fan of batch cooking. Getting organised so that when you are cooking you are making enough for two or three meals will save you time, effort and money, but when we think about meal prep, we tend to focus on the main meal of the day. Why not batch cook for breakfast, lunch and snacks too?
If you have no idea where to start with all of this, here are some hot tips to help:
1. HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
When you get your shopping home spend a little time washing, chopping and prepping your fruit and veg for the next few days. If you open the fridge door and there are ingredients ready to go, it is more tempting than having to assemble something from scratch.
Think about it like this – you open your fridge door and it is filled with veggies that you have already washed and chopped, compared to a head of wilted broccoli, and some dirty carrots that look like they need a lot more effort to make into something appetising.
:: Wash lettuce and put it into a sealed container.
:: Chop carrots, celery and peppers into sticks to have as a snack with humous, or in salads.
:: Mix up some fruit salad or stewed fruit to have with breakfast or on top of yoghurt for a healthy breakfast or handy snack.
Stick on some tunes, or your favourite podcast and get chopping.
2. MAKE EXTRAS
Cook like you mean it – it doesn’t take a lot more time to double up a recipe with leftovers for the freezer.
Bulk your recipes out with extra vegetables, or add some lentils or chickpeas along with your mince or chicken to make your meat go further. Not only is it better for your food budget, but it’s better for your health too.
3. PACK A LUNCH
If you are buying a lunch every day, you could save yourself a fortune and do your health a favour by making lunch a couple of times a week instead.
Make enough to do two or three days. Think homemade soups, seasonal salads or mini egg muffins.
:: Beetroot with feta, mint, chopped orange and some hazelnuts. Serve with a protein of your choice – extra feta, houmous, chicken or fish
:: Prawn cocktail – max up the health benefits by adding rocket, watercress, tomatoes, cucumber and red onion
:: Salad jars. Start with a dressing at the bottom, then layer up any chopped, shredded, sliced or diced veggies and fruit you fancy. Top with some couscous, brown rice, quinoa or new potatoes, your protein of choice and keep in the fridge for a couple of days for a tasty and nourishing lunch break.
:: Hard boil half a dozen eggs to use through the week for lunches. Add to salads, make a kedgeree or pop into a pitta pocket with lots of those shredded veggies and some mayo.
:: Make a big pot of Asian slaw to keep you going all week – shred cabbage, grate carrot, slice peppers and add an Asian dressing. Serve with stir fries at dinner or on the side with salads for lunch.
:: Make a big tray of roasted vegetables and have with chicken, fish or halloumi for lunch or dinner
4. SUPER HEALTHY SNACKS
Imagine opening your fridge for a tempting snack and finding something healthy like:
:: Vegetable sticks and hummus
:: Chopped fruit with natural yoghurt
:: A bowl of soup
:: Cheese on oatcakes
Getting into good habits starts with creating routines and structure in your day that help you to make healthy choices without too much effort.
:: If you’d like to join me in my kitchen, I have a meal prep masterclass coming up this Tuesday. More details on vital-nutrition.co.uk