Squeezing healthy habits into a busy schedule can be tough, not to mention daunting, but we promise you it can be done. To prove it, we enlisted the help of nutritional therapist and professional chef Samantha Waterhouse, whose blog is full-to-bursting with healthy lifestyle choices and wellness ideas. The diet wunderkind has laid out ten top tips on how to eat well when you’re busy, prepare to be inspired by her practical and achievable advice.
1. Menu planning
This might seem a simple task, but so many people don’t plan what they’re going to eat throughout the week. The problem with this is that you don’t have healthy food to hand when you need it, and so you reach for less healthy choices on the spur of the moment. Take a few minutes each week to think about what, where and when you will eat, then make a list: breakfast, lunches and dinner, and snacks if you wish. You don’t need to stick to it, but at least this will help you create a shopping list.
Next, create your shopping list. I usually do this on a note pad: menu on one side and shopping list on the other. Section the list into meat and fish, dairy, fruits and vegetables, frozen and cupboard essentials. Internet shopping is a godsend to busy women; whichever supermarket you choose, they have made it super-easy with reorder facilities and delivery times to suit everybody – so there really is no excuse.
3. Frozen food
Numerous studies have shown that quick frozen foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish and meat actually retain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. Having a well-stocked freezer also means you will never be caught out because you will always have some good quality frozen foods to hand.
4. Batch cook
I always advise people to cook double quantities of certain dishes like soups, stews and sauces. This saves time on shopping, preparing and clearing up. You will also have some good homemade food to hand for those weeks when time is really at a premium.
5. Eat leftovers
Try cooking a couple of extra portions in the evening and then take this to work in a Tupperware. Or cook extra rice, quinoa, green beans, pumpkin, whatever…. And then create lovely salads for lunch with these ‘leftover’ ingredients the next day.
6. KISS (Keep It Simple, Sister)
You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay every day. Keeping things really simple is the answer. It takes no time at all to throw a sweet potato and a fillet of salmon in the oven, whilst you wok-toss some spinach in garlic. Healthy, nutrient-dense and super quick.
7. Slow and pressure cooking
This is a new addition to my kitchen and I love it! I pop my ingredients into the pot, set the timer and then I can get on with going to the gym, shopping, taking the kids to class or whatever my schedule may throw at me, knowing that my food will be ready when I get home.
8. Cook-up on a Sunday
If you have a chunk of time to spend in the kitchen, some people enjoy preparing for the week ahead in one sitting. Just be aware of food safety: don’t leave food hanging around for more than three-to-four days and re-heat thoroughly.
If push comes to shove, remember that there are plenty of pre-prepared vegetable stir-fry mixes, chopped fruit and veggies and cooked meat and fish. Certain preservatives may be added to these foods, but they are healthier than reaching for a fat and sugar laden takeaway. Just make sure you don’t get into the habit of always using these.
10. Know your takeaway
If you are simply too whacked out to even contemplate visiting the kitchen, it is a great idea to have investigated your takeaway options. Turkish food is fresh, light and healthy. Vietnamese and Indian takeaways can be great if you are sure that they use fresh ingredients, and there are plenty of Japanese takeaway services in London that can deliver fast, fresh sushi. Don’t be shy about visiting local places and asking questions – if they are proud of what they have to offer they will have nothing to hide.