We can all think of that one person to compare ourselves to who always seems to have it together. They turn up on time without a hair out of place, can whip out a spare brolly, plaster or tampon from their handbag in a flash, run marathons, bake bread and seem to be able to juggle family, work and weekend life with a permanent smile on.
How, you ask yourself, does she do it.
It's quite simple, really. Preparation.
Whether this 'person' I've just described is real or a character from an HBO show, is not important. We've all been there, wondering how some people manage to get things done and be consistently good at stuff that we just can't seem to start, let alone master. Comparison can be detrimental but when we look at things from an alternate lens, things we have aspired to can start to become possible.
The one thing I get asked constantly, is 'how can I eat better, spend less time in the kitchen and know what I'm are eating and feeding my family is good for them, all while enjoying the food I've managed to put together?'.
With the constant pressure of eating well teamed with the price of everything going up, we are all looking to be more conscious about what we're eating and spending each day without having to sacrifice what we enjoy. And rightly so.
Like anything you do, if you want to create better habits like eating well, the secret is to plan ahead, know what you need to do that will make it easy for you to implement on repeat and stay motivated so you actually do it and keep doing it. And eating well starts at home, more precisely, in the kitchen.
Check out some of my personal tips below for how you can plan your food better, shop smarter and prepare meals that not only taste great but will make you feel great too.
Before you even have your shoes on to go out to the shops, start by looking to see what you already have in the house. Check the fridge, freezer and all the cupboards and drawers for ideas of meals to make in the week. You'd be surprised what you can put together with some rice and a bag of frozen peas... pea risotto, pea pesto, pea hummus?!
Make a shopping list! It sounds obvious, but we all know how easy it can be to get carried away in the supermarket with things that catch your eye, even those that look like a good deal! If you're clear on what your buying for the meals you've planned for, you're likely to be much more efficient with your time around the aisles and on your pocket too!
Not sure what to cook? Think of the meals you currently make and think about little tweaks to make them healthier, more interesting, easier to do? Could you add some steam veg as a side instead of mash, make an extra batch for leftovers that you can also freeze for another day, add an easy side salad, replace the white for wholemeal? If you're unsure what to cook entirely, look for simple recipes from a cookbook or online that you'd like to try over the week and add them to your shopping list. Base this on foods you already like to eat and save this for the weekend when you're likely to have more time to 'experiment'.
At the supermarket, start with the first aisle- fruit and veg. This is a really good way to ensure you add as much of the good stuff from the get go, thinking about what to include in breakfast bowls, smoothies, snacks and ingredients for the meals you have planned for the week. Think about including foods that are in season, trying something new rather than buying the same things each week. And don't forget fresh herbs that not only add lots of flavour but are also great source of antioxidents such as vitamin C
Prewash your veg so when you come to use it, you can skip that step and great straight to using it. I find this if great for things like salad leaves, grapes, tomatoes and fresh herbs
Tinned and jarred foods are great items to have in the kitchen to help bulk up a meal or to turn into a meal itself. From lentils for soups, beans that you can whizz up or add to a filling and multi-purpose vegetables like artichokes, lemons, kimchi and sundried tomatoes, these pantry go-to's are a really effective way to help you in the kitchen when time is short and you want to include great foods to a meal. There are countless ways to add to salads, into fillings, sandwiches, bases for curries and sauces or even as a side
Think about using foods to add flavour to a meal over relying on too much salt, such as fresh or dried herbs, spice mixes, anchovies, capers and fresh stocks. Not only will you start to appreciate new flavours, this may even inspire you to cook more when you know how to use certain ingredients and love these flavours
Keep healthy snack options easily available to prevent you from going to the biscuit jar after lunch everyday- trust me I know it happens, I've been there too! Things like olives, dates, grapes, crackers and hummus, nuts & seeds, berries with yogurt and cheese are great to have on stand by when you need a little fuel from reaching for yet more sugar
If 2x new meals a week sounds too overwhelming, start with one. You can always look online, or ask for simple family recipes or swap with friends and colleagues. Ideas can come from anywhere, if they help you feel more in control and eating well, it doesn't matter how you get there
Not sure what you should be cooking more of and how you can improve what you're already doing, without feeling overwhelmed? Get in touch and enquire about my upcoming programme COOK SMART, EAT WELL- designed to provide bespoke advice for the meals you already cook, plus lots of tips, information and recipes to improve your everyday meals.
Stay tuned for more info or email me at email@example.com for a sneak peak!
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