As lots of us are now getting back to work as well as looking after the children or older relatives and still keeping the house clean and tidy, it means that we don’t have the time that we have had over the past 5 months to prepare and eat healthy food. However, we can keep this up and not slip into our previous bad habits with a few simple changes. It’s so easy to grab quick food such as a takeaway or something that can be stuck in the oven for 20 minutes. However, this isn’t always a healthy option as convenience food is full of fat and sugar. But, you don’t have to sacrifice healthy food just because you are busy. Here are some tips and recipes for eating quick and healthy meals, many of which can be prepared beforehand to save time.
Healthy Meal Tips
- Plan your meals for the week ahead – there’s so many great Meal Planners out there, such as this one from Avon (you can buy this through Caroline to save on delivery charges!)
- Always make a shopping list – don’t shop blind, you’ll overbuy on foods you don’t need and miss out on foods you do need.
- Choose easy, quick breakfasts such as eggs (scrambled eggs takes 2 minutes to prepare), protein smoothies, overnight oats (this is great as it is made the night before) or a simple serving of bran flakes with a little milk.
- When preparing meals in advance, always make enough for 2 meals and freeze the extra so that you always have a healthy meal ready to defrost and heat up.
- Save leftovers to use for the following day’s lunch.
- Use a slow cooker – it’s easy to throw everything in in the morning and come home to a lovely, healthy cooked meal. It doesn’t get much more convenient than this!
- One pan meals are super easy and convenient (plus, it saves on the washing up!) choose stir fries, curries and stews.
- Buy bags of prepared salad and veg, or frozen veg to save time prepping. These can also be added to the slow cooker or into a one-pot meal.
Ideas for healthy breakfasts:
- Overnight oats – Mix 2 heaped tbsp of porridge oats with 150ml water. Stir in 50g of your choice of frozen fruit and leave in the fridge overnight.
- 150g fat-free Greek yogurt with blueberries and a sprinkle of honey or agave nectar.
- Grill 2 rashers of bacon (bacon Medallions are even better as they have the fat cut off) and 1 large tomato. Serve with wilted spinach.
- Porridge – Put 40g porridge oats into a bowl with 150ml semi-skimmed milk (or 75g semi-skimmed milk/75g water) and microwave for 1 minute. Check consistency and add more liquid if necessary, and microwave for a further 30 seconds. Add blueberries and a drizzle of honey, or for a change add a little cinnamon.
- 40g bran flakes with semi-skimmed milk.
- Frittata – Add a spray oil to a pan and fry 150g sliced mushrooms and 100g cherry tomatoes (quartered). Beat 4 eggs and season with salt and pepper (I also like to add a little paprika or cayenne pepper) and pour into the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until set. Half can be saved for another breakfast or lunch. This also tastes great cold.
- Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (one of my favourites). Beat 2 eggs and season. Spray a frying pan with oil and cook the smoked salmon for a couple of minutes and then pour in the eggs. Mix together and serve on a slice of wholegrain toast.
- Place your choice of fruit such as blueberries, banana, raspberries, strawberries etc into a blender together with some coconut milk and a scoop of your favourite protein powder (make sure it’s low sugar) and blitz.
Ideas for healthy lunches:
- Homemade soup – this is so easy to make and can be saved for the following day or frozen. Spray a frying pan with oil and add your choice of veg (eg: carrots, parsnips, celery, onion, leeks, sweet potato). Cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes. Add either vegetable or chicken stock and lots of nice spices and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and leave as it is if you like chunky soup or blitz in a blender for a smooth soup. You can also add brown rice or lentils to make it more filling.
- Salad with chicken or fish/prawns. Fill a big bowl with lettuce, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, radish, different coloured peppers (as many different colours as you can) and add a chicken breast, prawns, tuna, white fish etc. Drizzle with light mayonnaise or balsamic vinegar. This will last for 2-3 days in the fridge.
- Salmon and rice salad – Cook the rice and mix with a handful of watercress, 2 chopped spring onions, a few cherry tomatoes, chopped in half, half a red pepper, chopped and some chopped cucumber. Cook a salmon fillet and flake over the rice. Drizzle a little lemon juice over to serve.
- Omelette made with 2 eggs, 30g cottage cheese and a handful of spinach. Serve with a side salad.
- Tuna wrap – Spread a little ready-made salsa onto a wholemeal wrap, add lettuce and tuna (drained) and roll up to serve.
- Chicken pesto salad – Place a small amount of chopped lettuce in a bowl. Add cherry tomatoes, a few olives, 1 tbsp pine nuts and some chopped celery. Top with 100g cooked chicken. Mix 2 tbsp of ready-made pesto with the juice of half a lemon and drizzle over the top.
- Lentil salad – one of my favourites and very filling – Mix 100g cooked puy lentils with 1 chopped tomato, 1 chopped red pepper, a few olives and a selection of mixed leaves. Drizzle over a mix of Dijon mustard, olive oil and a little lemon juice.
- 1 Wholemeal pitta stuffed with a little guacamole and cooked chicken with a little hot chilli sauce drizzled over.
Ideas for healthy dinners:
Don’t forget you can make enough to take some for lunch the next day!
- Chicken and bean curry – Spray a little oil into a frying pan and fry 2 spring onions. Add 1 chopped chicken fillet and fry until cooked. Stir in 2 tsp red Thai paste and 150ml coconut milk. Stir through and add 100g chopped green beans. Simmer for 10 minutes and serve with either a small amount of brown rice or a salad.
- Beef stroganoff – make enough of this for two meals! Heat a little spray oil in a frying pan and fry ½ chopped onion. Add 200g beef steak cut into strips and cook through. Add 100g chopped mushrooms and 100g beef stock. Stir well and add 70g light cream cheese. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with either a little brown rice or a wholemeal pitta.
- Spiced salmon – Rub 1 tsp red Thai curry paste over a salmon fillet and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on a baking tray with a few cherry tomatoes and bake at 190°C for 10 minutes until cooked. Steam a mix of vegetables such as broccoli, green beans or mange tout and serve with the salmon.
- Saag paneer – Heat a little spray oil in a frying pan. Fry 100g paneer cheese (cubed) until golden. Add a crushed clove of garlic, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp tomato puree and ½ tsp turmeric. Stir in 250g spinach leaves and leave until wilted. Stir in 2tbsp fat free Greek yogurt to serve. Serve with a wholemeal pitta or a small amount of brown rice. This should leave enough left over for lunch tomorrow or to save for another night.
- Bean chilli (make enough to save some for another meal) – Spray a frying pan with a little oil and fry 1 chopped onion until soft. Add 1 chopped red pepper, 6 chopped mushrooms, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp mild chilli powder and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 tbsp of tomato puree. Stir well and add 1/2 tin of kidney beans (drained and rinsed) and ½ tin of black beans (drained and rinsed). Simmer for 10 minutes and serve with wholemeal pitta and a side salad, or a little brown rice.
- Turkey pasta (a healthier spaghetti Bolognese!) – Spray a little oil into a frying pan and heat 1 chopped onion and cook until soft. Add 500g turkey mince along with 2 crushed garlic cloves and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add in 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 tbsp tomato puree. Add 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried coriander, 1 tsp dried oregano and any other herbs and spices that you like. Stir well and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile cook 350g wholemeal pasta. Mix together when cooked. This will either serve 4 people or you can freeze the rest or use for another meal the next day.
- Healthy stir-fry – this is really quick and easy and only uses one pan. Heat a little spray oil in a frying pan or wok and cook 1 chopped onion until soft. Add in 2 chicken fillets (cut into chunks) and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add any sort of stir fry veg that you like such as beansprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts and peppers. Mix well and after a couple of minutes, add 2-3 tbsp soy sauce. Leave to cook for 10-15 minutes. Either eat on its own or with a little brown rice. Save any leftovers for another meal.
- Steak – another favourite of mine and so quick to cook (especially if you like it rare!) Heat a griddle pan until very hot and pop the steaks on. Cook for a minute or two (longer if you prefer your steak well done) and then turn over and repeat on the other side. Serve with a salad and some sweet potato wedges. For these, simply cut 1-2 sweet potatoes into wedges. Pop onto a baking tray sprayed with oil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 220°C.
So, with a few simple changes you can eat quick healthy meals with the bonus of added side effects including being more organised, being happier, healthier and quite possible losing a little bit of weight!
Caroline & Hannah xx