Question: "I just don’t seem to have enough time to cook from scratch. How can I eat healthy food if I am very busy?"
Amelia’s answer: We are living in a frantic and unsettling world, where we are available 24/7, work is all-consuming, children, family and other commitments take up the rest of our spare time, and yet, somehow, we are also supposed to carve out hours to workout, shop and cook from scratch (oh, and get in those 8 hours beauty sleep, right?!). I am not saying it is easy. But I am saying that good nutrition is worth your time – not least because if we are fuelled correctly, managing everything else can become a whole lot simpler.
So how can we stick to a healthy diet with next-to-no time? Of course, there will need to be a little trial and error, and everyone’s situation is unique. But these are a few of the ideas that have helped clients in the past. Perhaps they might also give you some ideas too.
If you are committed to improving your nutrition, then mentally setting this as a top priority and giving yourself permission to take the time required for shopping, cooking and eating, can be helpful. It can’t be a time-free process (although it can be time-efficient), so at some level, we do need to set aside at least a bit of time to eat well.
Make breakfasts as simple as possible, and don’t worry if they’re repetitive. I like eggs & sauerkraut or avocado on toast , nut granola or muesli with nut milk and seasonal fruit. Smoothies are super-quick options and can be highly nutritious with the right recipe. There are over 80 healthy breakfast ideas in this article if you’d like more inspiration.
Embrace leftovers. I know I say this time and again, but if you’re going to the effort of cooking one meal, then cook at least double. You’ve already got the chopping board, ingredients and knife out. The pans are already dirty. You’ll save so much time by just making that extra couple of portions for later if you do it all at once. Freeze them if you don’t want to eat the same thing two days in a row. And if you don’t want to batch cook the main dish, at least double up the veggies as then you’ll only need to re-heat them the next day, or enjoy them cold for lunch. Invest in some good, glass air-tight containers and labels to help keep things organised.
Plan ahead. Brainstorm a few meal ideas at the end of the week. Put your online order in (or shop on Saturday), and spend a couple of hours on Sunday evening preparing as much as you can for the week ahead. Even simple things like some prepared salads-in-a-jar, roasted veggies, a handful of boiled eggs, and perhaps a more substantial dish (such as a curry or fish pie) ready and waiting in the fridge will speed things up substantially, and help you stay on-track when you come in famished and exhausted. Here are 14 meal-planning tips and a free printable planner.
Don’t be scared to go off-menu if you are eating out. If you need to eat out a lot for convenience or work, then don’t be worried about asking the kitchen for a dish that still fits in with your goals. You can’t go too far wrong with some grilled or roasted fish, chicken or meat and a couple of side ordered of vegetables.You can ask for the vegetables to be undressed, and for some olive oil on the side.
Check out my favourite nourishing convenience foods for plenty of healthy ready-made options.
Find 3-5 really genuinely speedy recipes (i.e., food on your plate within 10-15 minutes) and then adapt these to suit your preferences and needs. My go-tos are my Instant Tomato & Cannellini bean soup (recipe in my forth book, Simply Good For You), scrambled eggs or a frittata with salad (and toast if I’m hungry), smoked mackerel or salmon with steamed greens, quinoa and loads of lemon juice (I buy pre-cooked quinoa for this reason), houmous salads with vegetable dippers, and red lentil pasta with speedy pasta sauces (again, there are recipes for quick pasta sauces in Simply Good For You) – this one is especially good for Willow. I hope this gives you a few ideas.
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