The cornerstone and most important key to eating well is to ensure we eat regularly.
If we don’t prioritise fairly consistent meals – meaning we eat at least every 4-5 hours – good nutrition eventually goes out the window.
But cooking three healthy meals from scratch every single day can seem like an uphill battle, especially if you believe everything you read on social media.
My clients are often juggling busy businesses with family, kids, a social life….
They often come to me wondering how they will even have time to order a takeaway, never mind prepare, cook, and clean up after a home-cooked meal.
If you are strapped for time, there are things that can make eating healthier at home a little easier.
It’s all about being creative and finding short cuts that work for you.
Here I will share with you some of the tips and tricks that I use to help my clients fuel themselves well within their hectic schedules.
You absolutely CAN eat well, run a successful business and have a stress free home life.
It doesn’t always have to be fresh
I, for one, find frozen veggies and tinned pulses a lifesaver! Not only do I lack the time to go to the shops to keep stocked up with fresh food 7 days a week, not having to chop and prepare mid-week can be a TIME saver. I often throw frozen broccoli in a pan to stir fry or roast frozen med veg. It is also worth bearing in mind that frozen fruit and veg can often contain more nutrients because they haven’t been sat on a shop shelf or in your fridge for too long. I also love frozen berries, they are so quick and simple to add to Greek yogurt for breakfast or a snack.
Buy pre-prepared food
Similar to above, pre-cut fruit and veggies help save time. Yes, they may not be as cost-effective and they will not last as long as ingredients bought whole but if you have a mage busy week ahead, your sanity may just outweigh the extra investment.
Batch cook and freeze
Whenever I make chilli, Bolognese or anything that lends itself to freezing, I make extra and portion it up to pop in the freezer. This really helps on those super long days when I just need something with no stress. You can do this with stews, soups or curries…the list is endless.
Stock up on healthy, zero prep options
Setting yourself up for success doesn’t have to be complicated. Makes sure that you are always well-stocked on things like rice, pasta, tinned pulses, couscous etc. I always like to have microwavable rice, quinoa, whole grains and pre-cooked lentils available. I often throw a packet in a frying pan with some frozen veg and pre-cooked meat (see below) and then I have a super tasty, nutritious meal in under around 10 mins.
Prep ahead of time
When you have more time at the weekends, cook a batch of chicken, roast some veggies or make a chickpea stew that you can just add to your meal pronto. I often make extra when we have a Sunday roast which can last us for the next few days in a variety of forms.
Flavour your food
There is a myth that healthy food has to be bland – far from it! There is also often a fear to incorporate shop-bought sauces and condiments because it doesn’t meet the ‘clean’ eating brigades approval. But jarred sauces and dressings can often make a really simple meal much more exciting and appetising. I love things like harrisa paste, pesto and jerk sauces. There is also such a wide variety of herbs and spices available these days. Paprika, cumin and dried chillis are a staple here and you can even get mixed ones that make a great rub for chicken and steak. I like cajun and American style ones. I have also been known to buy dried garlic to save time without sacrificing flavour…
Plan flexibly without a meal plan
I am not a fan of strict meal plans for a number of reasons and they definitely don’t work for my super busy clients. They require a lot of mental energy and who knows what they are going to fancy a few days down the line. I find that a much better approach is to have a list of meals that you like that require minimal prep (ideally one-pan recipes). Make sure that you include their ingredients on your weekly shopping list and then you can have them as go-to options. My clients often find that spending just a few minutes each evening thinking about what they will have the next day really works. Especially as no two days are ever the same.
Create a go-to recipe list
Following on from the above tip, whenever you make a quick and easy meal that you love, add it to your go-to list. You may think you will ‘just remember’ but trust me, writing it down and having it to hand when you can’t think straight really helps.
Keep it simple
Home-cooked, healthy food does NOT have to be complicated! You can download my free guide here that will show you how simple it can be. And if your time is really limited, beans on toast, a sandwich on wholemeal bread, a jacket potato with cheese and some fruit can make the perfect lunch to keep your energy levels up and avoid any afternoon slump.
Organise your workspace
There is nothing more stressful after an already stressful day than trying to prepare a meal in a disorganised space! Make sure you keep a space clear for preparation, know where all your utensils are, and keep all your go-to ingredients well within reach. It really can make all the difference to your motivation to and enjoyment of cooking.
Don’t be afraid of meal prep companies
Sometimes you just need things to be super simple! This is when a meal pep company can come to the rescue. Some of my clients swear by Hello Fresh. They take the hassle out of thinking about your meals and have it all ready and prepped for you. This can be really useful when you have a super busy week ahead.
Take snacks with you
If you really need something to grab on the go, make sure you set yourself up with some satisfying snacks. Protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, cracker and cheese snack packs, yogurt pots etc can all help tide you over until your next meal.
Prep breakfast the night before
Mornings are c-r-a-z-y in my house so making sure I have something easy to eat for breakfast is essential! It can be so easy to skip otherwise but I know the negative impact that this always has later in the day. I like things like overnight oats, or these egg and cheese muffins. Many of my clients also like pre-prepared smoothie packs or a protein shake they have ready in the fridge to grab and go.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are many other ways to set yourself to eat well in a busy world and I would love to hear yours!