By Sonia Grimes
Get a fridge full of healthiness ready for the week…
You know the scenario. You get home from work, you’re hungry but the last thing you feel like doing is spending ages in the kitchen chopping and peeling – so you grab a microwave meal and wait for that familiar ‘ping’. Or in the morning you dash out the door without breakfast and grab a sugar-rush-inducing croissant on the go. It’s a pretty soulless, unappetising and unhealthy way of eating and it doesn’t have to be this way.
Prepping your meals in advance may sound like a total faff but spending a bit of time getting prepared will save you time – and stress – in the long run and will ensure you’re always eating healthily. So check out these tips for clever prepping…
1 Tool up
Don’t worry – to be prepared you won’t have to stockpile an arsenal of pricey techno-gadgets. Apart from a blender, which will come in handy for making homemade dips and sauces, all you need is a stash of sealable sandwich bags and Tupperware containers. Oh and a marker pen so you can date everything that goes into the freezer.
2 Salad days
A pre-prepared salad will last up to five days in the fridge. Throw together a mix of kale, quinoa, chilli, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, spring onions and pomegranate seeds – or literally whatever colourful crunchy veg you have to hand. Then each day just add a bit of what you fancy such as pre-cooked chicken, feta cheese, avocado or tuna. Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and lemon, sprinkle with dried herbs and – voilà –your lunch box is sorted.
To ring the changes, add a homemade dressing. Stored in a sealed plastic container in the fridge, creamy dressings will last a week while vinaigrettes can be kept for up to 2 weeks.
3 Break-fast bonanza
Say so long to skipping brekkie or grabbing a croissant on the go with these speedy little numbers…
Calling all Nutribullet fans – forget slicing, dicing and general fiddling around, just use frozen fruit and veg instead. It’s a good way to avoid food waste, too. If you’re using fresh, chop up enough for four smoothies – make up one then refrigerate the rest of the fruit and veg ready for blitzing the next three days.
Tip: Swap banana for frozen cauliflower – same creamy texture, lower in sugar.
Keep a mix of jumbo porridge oats, raisins, nuts and seeds in a sealed container in the cupboard. Soak the mix in semi-skimmed milk overnight ready to add fruit, yoghurt or cinnamon the next morning. Once you’ve made up the muesli, it’ll keep in the fridge for 1 day.
Plan ahead and you can get not one, not two, but THREE meals all from one starter base. Versatile, huh? Also great for families where everyone wants something different at the same meal time. Try it with:-
Wholemeal pasta Cook once to serve with a spinach and walnut pesto. Refrigerate a batch (keeps for up to 4 days) for a veggie supper with mushrooms, garlic and onion – just microwave for 1 min per portion. Freeze a batch for another dinner with added salmon or chicken.
Bolognaise Enjoy it as a classic spaghetti bolognaise, top with potato for a cottage pie, pile into tacos and top with cheese, add chilli for a spicy con carne – heck, that’s FOUR meals. The bolognaise will keep in the fridge for 2-4 days, or whack it in the freezer.
5 Breakfast, lunch – whatever
Who says you have to eat your meals in a set order? Play swapsies and you can use up leftovers, avoid food waste and get more meals than you bargained for. Try these:-
Poached egg surprise The surprise is that you can cook poached eggs for breakfast and keep one for next day’s lunch. Slip into hot water for 1 minute or microwave on high for 30 seconds. Serve on toasted sourdough with avocado and salad (you know, the one that’s already prepped in the fridge!).
Rosti & scrambled eggs Leftover rosti makes a delicious breakfast topped with spinach and tomatoes and a side of scrambled eggs. Or cook the rosti for breakfast and use the leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner served with salmon or chicken.
Tip: Use sweet potato for a healthier option.
Morning salad Make your pre-prepped salad go even further and have it for breakfast. Mix up a Mediterranean beauty of artichokes, feta cheese, olives, mushrooms, red onions and sundried tomatoes with olive oil and lemon.
6 One-pot wonders
These simple, chuck-in-together meals are a no-brainer for busy women. Just throw in whatever you’ve got knocking around in the fridge, freezer and cupboard and relax in the knowledge there’ll be minimal clearing up! Try these:-
Cajun chicken Defrost some pre-cooked chicken and toss into a frying pan with whatever veg you’ve got – fresh or frozen – and some Cajun spices. Ready in less than 15 minutes.
Simple salmon Place salmon fillets on a bed of aubergines and courgettes, throw in some cherry tomatoes, lemon slices and capers and add garlic, a dollop of fish sauce, seasoning and dill. Wrap in foil and oven bake for 25 minutes.
* Sonia Grimes is a qualified nutrition and weight loss expert. For more tips, advice and individual guided support on healthy eating for weight loss, sign up for her YOUtrition 6-week group programme, £100. Visit http://www.you-trition.com for more info