Of all the healthy eating habits out there probably the one that will pay the most dividends over the long term is meal planning. Now, you maybe be all over this like a rash already but if not please don’t stop reading! I know there is something supremely smug about people who do all their meal prep at the weekend and then post irritating shots of Tupperwares lined up in colour-coordinated fashion in the fridge (I have noted that most of these people are child-free and so making 5 lots of one salad is really no big deal - TRY DOING THAT FOR 4 PEOPLE WHO ALL LIKE DIFFERENT THINGS!!!).
So, that's not the kind of prep I’m talking about, I just mean doing some thinking, a bit of meal planning and perhaps making one or two things you can use throughout the week to help you stay on the healthy track. Some weeks are crazy busy and it can be hard to shoehorn in a toilet visit let alone anything else, but if you do have a free hour or two these will really pay dividends down the line:
1] PLAN YOUR MEALS FOR THE WEEK. I do this religiously at the weekend. If I don’t then we head off-piste and it’s a mess. Plus, I really can’t be doing with the stress of 'what’s for dinner' every day. Things do tend to change as the week goes on but if I have a bit of a blueprint then it saves a lot of mental energy when reserves are low. This is my plan for this week:
As you can see I plan breakfasts and dinners but not lunches as these tend to be soup (see below), leftovers or ‘snacky plates’ (see yesterday’s post!). We are having people over for dinner next weekend but I’ll do a separate shop for that later in the week.
2] MAKE A SOUP (or a quick veggie curry, or a chickpea stew or something of that kind). Make plenty of it and keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest – that’s a load of quick meals sorted.
3] MAKE A DIP/SPREAD. It takes literally 10 minutes to make a really yummy spread or dip, like hummus or something with a tin of beans. This is an absolute winner for healthy snacks (with cut-up veggies) or to put on oatcakes, toast or in a wrap. If I may indulge in a shameless plug, there are lots of recipes in The Midlife Kitchen, my favourite is Middle-Aged Spread (geddit?), see p218, which is a gorgeous blend of spinach, butter beans and spices (so yum).
4] ROAST SOME VEG AND BOIL SOME EGGS. This is virtually effortless and they are excellent to have in the frigidaire to make salads more interesting, plus I am rather partial to an egg and watercress sandwich ….
5] MAKE SOME SPICED SEEDS. These are brilliant for pimping any savoury dish – things on toast (I had them on my avotoast the other morning), soup, salads, on eggs etc. I would say this is one of the best ways to Ottolenghi-fy your life and that is definitely no bad thing. Again, the recipe is in the book but basically you just fry a mix of seeds in a pan with a little olive oil and a range of spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt & pepper). Keep in a Tupperware and sprinkle with abandon.
6] MAKE SOME GRANOLA. I cannot tell you what a game-changer it is to have your own granola that’s completely sugar-free, delivering all the nutty crunch without any sugary nonsense. Here's the recipe for the Grown-Up Granola from the book: www.stealthhealthblog.com/post/recipe-midlife-grown-up-granola
So, that’s what I mean by prep – Midlife Meal Prep if you like! If you are already into it then please let me know your top prepping tips in the comments below, I’d be very interested to find out and I’m sure fellow StealthHealthers (I need a better name than that, ideas?) would love to know too.
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