So staying healthy in a world in which it feels like we are surrounded by food can be really hard. In recent years, since stepping away from the packet food industry I have begun to understand how advertising companies and supermarkets can make fast, junk food seem so appealing. Many people nowadays need a quick, simple and easy menu. We live in a fast-paced world and the advertisers make it seem like we must have fast food too.
However, I do not believe this to be true. OK so I’m a stay at home mum but that does not mean I’m not busy racing around after a nearly four year old. Some days I literally don’t sit down. So even I would like the house fairies to cook the dinner occasionally. However I have discovered with careful planning and a small amount of time we can have healthy food.
Firstly I sit down with a pad and pen to write a weeks menu. So we shop from a Wednesday to a Tuesday. On a Monday night, before we go to the shops on a Tuesday, I will look at the food we have in the fridge and then I will make a list from the menu I have written. We like to shop twice a week when possible. Ted and I will go to the shops on a Tuesday and then we will go to the shops at the weekend as well. It literally takes me ten to twenty minutes to write a menu and shopping list. I feel, writing a menu has a huge part to play in staying healthy. For me it means getting to dinner time and knowing that we have a meal to eat. It stops us reaching for the convenience food or takeaways.
The list I will also try to write in order of the shops shelves we are going to buy food from. I find it helps me to navigate past any of the convenience foods and it stops me from buying anything I don’t really need or want. It also stops us from wasting food. I hate waste and I always try to buy the food that will get eaten. Ted is with me a lot when I go shopping so it doesn’t always work. Occasionally, we will end up in the sweet treat section of the supermarket but only if he’s been a good boy.
Now we are staying healthy I like to utilize our freezer. If we do not have time at the weekend to go shopping I like to keep frozen vegetables in stock. I find that frozen veg keeps for a long time and it’s easy to cook. We also keep frozen fruit in too. It has been scientifically proven that fruit and vegetables retain more nutrients when they are frozen. So they are even better for your body. Ted loves frozen fruit and it’s great for making smoothies with as well. I also like to buy meat in bulk from our local organic butchers. The meat I buy from the butchers I then store in our freezer.
Plus any leftovers that we have I store in the freezer too. So if I make extra of a meal I will store it in a tupperware box or a resealable bag. Although, we tend to eat any leftovers for lunch the next day. My husband will take his to work in a tupperware box. Ted and I will reheat the dinner from the night before. If we have leftovers at the weekend we don’t tend to eat it the next day. My family loves cheese and pickle sandwiches on a Saturday. Therefore Friday nights dinner will normally end up in the freezer. That is a meal I will not need to cook again so for me it’s like takeaway night.
Another way to make my life simple is to prepare for meals the night before. As we have a lot of vegetarian or vegan dishes during the week I fill our plates with vegetables. So any peeling, chopping or slicing I need to do I will prep them the night before and put them in the fridge. I am lucky enough to have bowls with lids so any onion or chopped vegetable smells are kept to a minimum. Again you could use tupperware boxes for the prepared vegetables.
Breakfast is another meal that I will prepare as much as I can, so in the morning we can eat and go. I like to soak porridge oats overnight as I find them easier to digest. It’s also one less job to do in the morning. Any added ingredients such as cashew nut paste, raw cacao powder and chia seeds I will put into a small bowl with lid. In the morning all I have to do is add these ingredients to the porridge and cook. The frozen fruit I keep I add to the porridge as well. Smoothies are a great food too. If we have a busy day I will prepare my smoothie the night before and then I can just simply eat and go first thing.
If we are having a slow cooked meal then I will put all of the vegetables into the slow cooker pot with frozen chicken stock. I like to keep chicken or vegetable stock in the freezer and then the night before I put it into the slow cooker to let it defrost over night. If I have stock in the fridge I will put this in with the vegetables. That way the food is kept cold and all I have to do is turn the slow cooker on in the morning. It’s a fast, effective way to get dinner on the table without to much fuss. I would highly recommend investing in a slow cooker. They are very affordable and so easy to use.
To make my life easy I have invested in good quality kitchen equipment. We bought a high quality food processor which means making soup and sauces is so simple. If you can afford to buy quality kitchen equipment again I would highly recommend it. I have made soups and sauces using cheap stick blenders (which do work well) but the food processor has made cooking less labour intensive. It also means I can get dinner to the table quickly and effortlessly.
Finally, I find buying in bulk saves time and you don’t always need to go running to the shops every five minutes. We are really lucky in our house to have a pantry and a lot of freezer space. The pantry we bought when we moved into our house has been a great investment. It stores a lot of our dry foods which we buy online. I shop online for all the foods that I can’t get in our local farm shop or supermarket. Or that are cheaper buying in bulk. I have organised our pantry so it’s easy to find food. It makes it easier to cook when I can locate ingredients quickly. My freezer is always full with frozen vegetables and fruit but I also like to keep any meat, leftovers or chicken stock in here too.
Eating and staying healthy can seem like a minefield to many. Before giving up on the packet food industry I would have laughed if you had told me I didn’t need to buy so much from the supermarket. I think, advertisers have us so convinced that we must have quick, fast food that we forget that once upon a time we did make everything from fresh foods. Also, that it was affordable and easy for us to do. With simple planning and organising of the kitchen I believe we can all be and stay healthy.