You would think as a Registered Associate Nutritionist that I always have time to cook nutritious dinners - and, you would be very wrong! Just like so many people, I spend my day sat at my desk or out of the house, meaning I end up eating toast for more meals than I care to admit.
I never offer impractical advice. Personally, if I couldn't genuinely do it myself... I'll never recommend it. So, these are my top 5 practical tips for preparing healthy, nutritious meals when life gets a little too hectic to spend hours in the kitchen.
Tip #1 - Buy convenience
Whilst more expensive, pre-prepared foods can be a life saver on busier days. I'm not talking about ready-meals. From microwave rice, pre-cooked fish or sliced vegetables, these pre-prepared ingredients can mean your dinner can be ready in a matter of minutes.
Tip #2 - Make it convenient
Don't have the budget to buy pre-prepared ingredients? Make them yourself. Set aside an hour (on one of your down days) and chop up various vegetables and put these into freezer-friendly containers/bags and pop into the freezer. Whether it's diced onions, sliced peppers or broccoli florets, these can all be used straight from the freezer and will save you plenty of prep time later on. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later.
Tip #3 - Cook for your future self
When you do have a moment to cook, why not make an extra portion that you can freeze and defrost at a later date? I'll often freeze leftovers in pre-portioned servings. This means, I just have to grab it out of the freezer in the morning, and I have a nutritious dinner, that only needs re-heating, waiting for me after work. Just make sure it's freezer safe!
Tip #4 - Add breakfast to your night time routine
Don't have time to make a breakfast that can fuel your morning? Take 5 minutes out of your evening to prepare tomorrow's breakfast. Overnight oats or smoothies can be a speedy, nutritious breakfast to make the night before, and eat on the go the following morning.
Tip #5 - Be kind to yourself
Lastly, know that it's okay if some days you do end up just eating beans or [insert your food of choice] on toast. This speedy dinner can absolutely be part of a healthy, balanced diet and shouldn't be seen as the lazy choice. Being healthy involves both body and mind. If spending time in the kitchen is adding another level of stress to your day, minimise the time you spend there that day to look after your emotional wellbeing.
Don’t Overcomplicate It!
Make food convenient - whether it's spending a bit more money, using an hour of your down time to make ingredients more convenient or cooking an extra portion. But, don't forget to be kind to yourself on those super busy days.