Want to know the key to eating healthy?
I’ll tell you…
Sorry – you thought I was going to give you an easy out didn’t you? Unfortunately, as with most things in life, the outcome is largely effected by the amount of effort you put in, and this is definitely the case when it comes to your health.
I get it, it’s hard – you spend the best part of your working for the (wo)man. Lunch breaks are spent running errands, evenings are spent at the gym or catching up on the latest episode of Girls, and weekends are a blur of meeting up with friends, day trips, brunch dates, helping your mother with the gardening, reading, changing the soil over in your worm farm, trips to the farmers market and a few frustrated hours trying to walk your stubborn dog. You know how it goes.
You struggle to fit all that in, so how the hell are you supposed to eat healthy when you barely have enough time to run to the shop to buy almonds, let alone activate and eat them?
Simple – by planning ahead. Specifically by putting an hour or two aside at the start of the week, you will be able to prepare a whole weeks worth of meals in the one go.
And before you try and argue that you don’t have time to do that, I’m going to cut in and tell you that you do. We all do. It’s just a matter of prioritising your health and cutting back on that thing you know you don’t really need to be doing, whether it’s an hour lost flicking through Instagram or who-knows-how-long watching repeats of Sex and the City that you just had to watch because they were on TV (and it’s not like you don’t still own the limited edition box set now is it… ;)
At the end of the day, we can all find an hour or two to set aside and plan out our meals for the week – whether you want to be more strict and plan – and prepare – every single meal, or if you want to just get some ingredients ready to throw together on the day, we can all benefit from a little meal planning.
I have a whole series planned for you on meals that are easy to cook in bulk for the week ahead to help you get planning, prepared and eating healthily more easily, starting next week with my go-to breakfast option.
Before we get to the recipes though, I thought I’d run through my tried and tested practices to easily prep ingredients and meals of the week ahead.
Pick two or three main meals only
- Pick a few meals for the week ahead only to limit the amount of time you need to spend preparing and cooking.
- Pick seasonal meals with recipes that can be doubled or tripled. Choose options like soups, curries, grain/legume-based salads, stews and stir-fries.
- Meals like soups and curries can be cooked at the start of the week, others like soups and stir-fries which may not last the distance, or not fare to well being re-warmed, can be quickly prepared every day or second day of you prepare the ingredients in advance.
Or just “wing it” (the pre-planned way!)
- If the idea of eating the same two or three meals all week doesn’t float your boat, you can easily make up different meals each day by having a well-stocked fridge and pantry and preparing basic ingredients at the start of the week.
- Cook up a big pot of wholegrains at the start of the week – I usually go with quinoa, buckwheat, barley or brown rice
- Prepare a bunch of veggies to have on hand to throw into salads or quickly cook up – wash, peel and cut them, and then store in an airtight container in the fridge (note that some veggies are best left to prepare on the day – more on this in a later post!)
- Pick out your protein for the week – whether it’s meat, fish, tofu, eggs or legumes, make sure that you know what you’re going with at the start of the week so that you can prepare as much at the start of the week. Cook up a big pot of beans, or hard boil some eggs ready to add to different meals.
- Make a dressing or two at the start of the week, such as a vinaigrette or creamy tahini-based dressing that you can add to some cooked grains and veggies to add some flavour and turn it into a delicious meal.
Starting the day the right way
- So that you’re not left reaching for the overly-processed box of cereal, make up a big batch of wholegrain muesli/granola at the start of the week, or a big batch of overnight oats.
- If you prefer a savoury start to the day, make ahead some kind of frittata or veggie/eggy bake.
- Green smoothies make a great breakfast option in the warmer months, and a big batch will last three to four days in the fridge, depending on what ingredients you use.
Don’t forget about drinks and snacks!
- Make sure you factor in drinks and snacks for the week so that you’re not left reaching for the nearest charity chocolate box when hunger pangs hit at 3pm
- Make up a big batch of bliss balls, healthy cake or bars to snack on throughout the week
- Cut up carrot, celery, capsicum and cucumber sticks to nibble on
- Blend up a big batch of legume-based dip to dip your veggie sticks into – a protein hit with your snacks will make them far more satiating!
- Package up tea leaves or a healthy hot chocolate mix to take to work to drink at morning tea. I like to cut up fresh ginger and lemongrass which I’ll steep in hot water to make a delicious herbal tea.
- If you don’t drink dairy, soak your nuts/seeds/coconut over the weekend so you can make your own fresh milk at the start of the week.
Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful – if you’re after a more detailed guide to meal planning, stay tuned for my next lot of posts in this series which will include recipes and more detailed weekly guides.