My clients all lead very busy lives, often juggling work and childcare. As a result, it’s often challenging to eat nutritious food, that’s also quick and easy to prepare. I thought I’d share some of the things I do to eat well 80% of the time and reduce the amount of time I have to think about what we’re all going to eat.
I know lots of personal trainers advocate meal prepping and spending time producing all your meals for the week ahead, on a Sunday. My family life doesn’t allow for this so I have developed some alternative solutions which mean I can save time on a daily basis, without spending too much time in advance.
With a little planning, you can create a quick, nutritionally rich meal in minutes. It’s all about having the fridge and cupboards stocked with a few essentials at the start of the week.
Meal Plan and Bulk Shop
It’s an obvious one. Planning definitely helps to reduce stress and enables us to make better food choices. Yet it’s one thing that so many of my clients don’t do.
· Spend 30 minutes over the weekend planning what to eat as a family for the week ahead. I do Monday to Friday only, as I like to be more flexible over the weekend.
· Do a weekly shop so that the fridges and cupboards are stocked by Monday.
· Don’t feel pressure to be constantly creating new dishes. Most weeks, my meals are the same or very similar at least 3 nights a week (chicken, spinach and green bean korma, pasta & tomato/veg sauce and prawn stir fry all feature heavily).
· Think ahead and buy/cook more than you need so if you are making something like a curry one evening you have plenty spare to portion up and put in the freezer. I don’t put aside time to bulk cook but if it’s curry night I make twice or three times the amount I need, so I can get next weeks curry out of the freezer.
· The children have pasta and tomato sauce at least once a week but I only cook the sauce once a month, the rest of the time I take portions out of the freezer.
Cook more veg than you need
· Cook extra vegetables with dinner and keep them to throw cold in a salad the next day.
· Plunge the spare veg in cold water straight away once it’s cooked, otherwise you’ll end up with soggy grey veg the next day. Slightly under cook the veg, then you’ll end up with lovely crisp crunchy veg. Green beans, runner beans and broccoli work well.
· I love a salad that’s been bulked out with green veg. A quick lunchtime meal for me is a big handful of left over crispy veg, raw baby spinach and feta, all mixed up together, drizzled with lemon infused olive oil (Carluccios do a great one) and lots of black pepper.
Have good sources of protein easily to hand
· Include some or all of the following items in your weekly shop
Frozen tiger prawns (stir fry straight from the freezer with a bag of stir fry veg)
Feta (brilliant added to salad or on top of hot stewed lentils or beans)
Salmon and mackerel (great with raw baby spinach and red onion)
Pre-cooked grains and pulses (pouches of quinoa, lentils and tins of beans)
Chicken - I often roast a large whole chicken on Monday night which makes a couple of family meals (Roast chicken one night, chicken wraps the next) and provides me with protein to include in my lunch for a few days.
I’m sure there are lots of other ways of making food prep quick, easy and nutritious. If you have any tips or tricks please do share in the comments, I’d love to hear them.