We all live busy lives, and the first thing to go when you’re running around non-stop, is your healthy eating plan.
But with a little prep, and a few great recipes, you can be sure you get all the nutrients your body needs so you’re fully prepared for your duties – whether that’s toddler taming, boardroom presenting or anything in between.
Time is something of a luxury these days – and women feel the pull of their responsibilities all day long. So it’s not surprising that resolutions of healthy eating can quickly go out of the window when faced with an impossible to do list and no time in which to do it.
The problem with this is that times of busyness and stress are exactly those moments when eating well is even more crucial.
If your children are keeping you up all night, the only hope you have of finding the energy to tear around after them all day is filling yourself up with the nutrients your body needs.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends with your job, feeding your body with the vitamins and minerals it requires will make everything you’re doing easier.
But how can you find the time to make home cooked meals when the rest of your life seems to be spiralling out of control? Here’s a step by step guide to making sure you get the goodness your body craves without swelling your stress levels.
We’re guessing if you have any children in your family, they don’t start the day without something to eat.
But we also know that while your kids will leave the house with full little bellies, taking care of your own early morning nutrition is likely to be low on your priority list.
It’s really important that this changes. No matter how early and rushed your morning routine is, there’s time to shovel down a bowl of overnight oats.
And as the name suggests, the prep happens while you sleep, meaning you only have to find time in the morning to eat it.
An extra bonus is that it doesn’t even take long to prepare the night before – we’re talking minutes. And you can make a few days’ worth at a time.
Add 60g of oats to a bowl or jar, and add two teaspoons of chia seeds, a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds, 100ml of almond milk and 100 ml water. Give a good stir, then add in and teaspoon or two of maple syrup. That is literally it. Leave it in the fridge overnight to absorb the milk and eat up in the morning, either alone or with a topping of easy-to-grab fruit like raspberries or blueberries that require no prep.
However simple it is, it’s time to ditch the sandwich. Even the best options contain a limited amount of nutrients (how many salad leaves can you actually squash between two slices of bread? Actually not many), and while fine for the occasional last-minute lunch, the sandwich should not become your midday staple.
Instead you need to carve out an hour a weekend to put two pots on the hob and to make a couple of batches of healthy soup.
Soup is perfect, whatever the weather, as a comforting lunch that’s brimming with liquid nutrition. How long it takes to make your soup is up to you; if you’re incredibly time-strapped you can buy pre-prepared veggies (frozen are fine) – even frozen pre-chopped onions are available now.
Fry up some onions and garlic, add in your veggies and top up with a veggie or chicken stock. Add in a few scoops of lentils and let the whole thing stew and boil for half an hour.
If you’ve got time (or children who enjoy cooking), sticking to a recipe can be fun and is a great way to get kids interested in eating veg they’d otherwise turn their little noses up at. Here’s one delicious recipe, but as always with soup – feel free to mix it up.
This pea and spinach soup is one of our faves:
Fry up one chopped onion in a some olive oil with 3 cloves of garlic, then add in 1 small potato, previously peeled and chopped up. Add 1250ml of veggie stock and boil for 15 minutes. Add 100g frozen peas and 150g frozen spinach and simmer for 5 minutes. Season, blend and serve.
By the end of the day we’ve all had enough and if you’ve managed to stick to something healthy for breakfast and lunch, you’ve already done a great job.
With dinner, it’s all about planning ahead – and that can be hard when you’re struggling to get through the daily grind.
One way to ensure you have a varied healthy diet at dinner time is to abide by a few rules:
1. Try to only take out or cook convenience food once a week. Pick the night you’re always home late, after school clubs take over or you frankly just need a break – and mark it out as your convenience eve. One down – six to go!
2. Try to only have pasta once a week too – and make the swap to wholewheat over white pasta.
3. Switch white rice for its browner cousin too – just as delicious (in fact more so in our opinion) and full of all the goodness removed when it’s eaten white, brown rice is a nutritional powerhouse and a good mid-week dinner staple. (Lumity’s Jen swears by cauliflower rice).
Other than that, plan your meals out to include a bit of protein (some oily fish, lean white meat or veggie proteins like tofu are great options – and you only need about the size of the palm of your hand), and plenty of fresh – or previously frozen – veg. If half your plate is a salad, or accompanying vegetables, you can’t go far wrong. When in doubt, go green!
A favourite mid-week meal chez Lumity is an adaptation of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veggerie. Chop whatever veggies you have in the fridge (onions, courgettes, peppers, beetroot, carrots, broccoli.
Literally anything goes, though Hugh recommends onions, aubergines and courgettes in the recipe) and chuck it in the oven with a large glug of olive oil and a desert spoon full of curry powder – it’ll take about 40 minutes so feel free to get on with anything else (kiddie bedtime’s a good one!).
Put some brown rice on at the 20 minute mark (and give the veggies a stir) and when the timer goes off, keep everything on hold for six and a half minutes while you perfectly boil a couple of runny-middled eggs. Skin the eggs, cut in two and serve it all up. Delish!
This really is all about the shopping. Fill your fridge with fruit (grapes, berries and melon are perfect pick-me-ups), your cupboard with nuts and seeds and your freezer with frozen treats (bags of frozen fruit cost very little and are great when you need a sweet pick me up.
But if this is to be a sustainable way of life, treats must be allowed too. So pick your moments and allow yourself a little of what you love.
Moderation is always the key.