When it comes to healthy eating, preparation really is the key to success. When you are busy juggling the house, work, kids, partners and all the other commitments that make up your life it can be difficult to find the time to cook. Let’s take a closer look into how you can cut corners and utilise your time better with regards to food prep!
It sounds daunting and maybe unnecessary but how much time do you give up each day debating what food you’re going to eat? Planning your meals in advance can actually save you a lot of time and stress on a daily basis.
Knowing exactly what you are going to cook helps to cut down on waste, it saves money because you won’t be tempted to buy random items off the shelf and encourages you to keep on track.
When you sit down and think about your week’s meals, you are able to prepare in advance. You will have time to think about your family’s favourite foods and will be able to navigate the things they don’t like. Planning ahead means your kitchen will be more organised and efficient. Set aside just 30 minutes per week purely to plan your meals. Take into account your schedule, what is going to be your busiest day? Plan a quick evening meal for then. Write a shopping list and then stick to it!
Don’t overcomplicate your meals, food does not have to be a culinary masterpiece every day. If you’re busy there is nothing wrong with a salad or stir fry. There are so many easy healthy options available in the supermarkets these days that help to cut down on preparation times. Do remember that they are not the most cost-effective way of eating but if time is of the essence, they can be a really blessing and will also be cheaper and healthier than a takeaway alternative.
From microwavable rice and quinoa to ready prepared courgette spaghetti, butternut squash noodles or cauliflower rice to fresh soup mixes and stock there is so much choice. These basic ingredients can form the basis of a quick meal full of nutrition.
Cooking something tasty and nutritious really doesn’t take long at all. In those few moments you spend waiting for a microwaveable meal to cook, you could have whipped up a quick and much tastier stir fry. Looking for a quick healthy dinner? Check out our recipe for smoked haddock kedgeree https://www.dropit21.com/recipe/smoked-haddock-kedgeree/or a simple red lentil dahl https://www.dropit21.com/recipe/red-lentil-dahl/
When you make your evening meal, always make larger quantities and freeze for the following day or for the next week when you maybe too busy to cook. Double up on bolognese, chilli or curry for example and freeze a few portions. Aim to keep your freezer packed with homemade midweek meals. If you can put aside a couple of hours on the weekend once a fortnight or once a month, just for meal prep, in theory you can make enough food to last for a few weeks. Try not to let cooking feel like a burden and never underestimate the smug feeling of being organised!
Think in advance
• Try cooking a whole chicken rather than a couple of chicken breasts then you’ve got a few meals ready at once. A roast dinner, chicken salad, stir fry or curry.
• Don’t just cook a couple of rasher of bacon, cook the whole packet in advance and keep in a ziplock bag in the fridge to use in the morning, or add to salads.
• Chop and fry off a few onions when you are preparing a dish. You can then freeze the cooked onions in smaller portions and it’ll save you having to chop and prep onions next time when you are preparing a meal.
• Chop up lots of salad ingredients and store them in bags/containers in the fridge. (Make sure they are in separate containers to stop them going soggy.) It makes preparing a salad so much quicker.
• Hard boil more than a couple of eggs in advance. You can eat some on the hop for breakfast, add others to salads. Again they will store in the fridge for a few days.
• Slice up lemons and freeze. It will be much quicker for your cuppa in the morning and will also cool the water down and make it quicker to drink. Freezing helps to cut down on waste, keeps the lemons fresh.
• Make up smoothie packs with leftover fruit/veg and freeze ready for a quick breakfast or take advantage of the frozen smoothie fruit mixes you can buy in supermarkets now.
Supermarket Time Savers
As we’ve mentioned there are so many pre-prepared healthy options in the supermarkets nowadays. They aren’t always the most cost-effective to use, but they certainly can save you a lot of time. Look out for things like:
- Chopped onions, mushrooms, garlic, etc – these can either be found fresh or in the freezer.
- Frozen spice mixes already perfectly mixed ready to be thrown in the pan to make a curry.
- Prepared soup mixes that just need to be fried off and add stock/water.
- Prepared courgette and butternut squash noodles.
- Prepared cauliflower rice.
- Microwaveable or boil in the bag rice.
- You could always buy a whole precooked chicken and then you instantly have 3 meals covered!