Everyone knows it’s important to try and eat healthily, but we’re often so busy – or let’s face it, lazy – that it’s much quicker and easier to just grab a takeaway or pop an often salt and sugar-loaded ready meal in the oven or microwave.
But eating well doesn’t have to be massively time-consuming. In fact, there are lots of shortcuts and easy ways to prepare healthy food at home – and they will work out a lot cheaper than buying takeaways all the time.
Keen to eat more healthily this year – with minimal effort? Try these tips:
1. Quick sarnies
Make a few egg or chicken sandwiches at the weekend, pop each in a freezer bag and freeze them. Defrost in the microwave and you’ve got a healthy and filling breakfast or lunch when you’re short on time, or just can’t be bothered making anything.
2. Prep, prep, prep
If you have a little spare time at the weekend, think about what you might want to eat during the week, and do a little prep for it if possible. Try chopping veg, making a sauce, or cooking meat the day before and leaving it all in the fridge.
3. Freeze veggies
Get some vegetables washed, chopped and frozen, or if even that’s too much effort, buy frozen ready-chopped veg. All the vitamins and minerals are still in there, and all you have to do is get them out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave or bung in a pan for a few minutes.
4. Cool herbs and spices
Similarly, chop batches of things like garlic, ginger, chilli and fresh herbs, put each in individual freezer bags and freeze, to make it quicker and easier to whip up dishes like soups, sauces and stews after work.
5. Stock up
Use vegetable or chicken stock instead of oil to cook food. Not only will it stop food sticking to the pan, but it adds flavour and is often healthier than oil.
6. Get steaming
Use a steamer to cook vegetables. It’s easier than boiling them in a pan on the stove and healthier, as steaming helps retain more of the nutrients.
7. Take the slow route
Invest in a slow cooker. Just throw all your ingredients in the pot in the morning, get on with your day – and come home later to a tasty, hot one-pot meal. All you’ll have to do is dish up.
8. Take up slow and tender braising
Braise or poach meat, fish and vegetables. Braising cheaper cuts of meat in stock, on the hob or in a slow cooker for a long time will make the meat really tender – and all you need to do is throw everything in the pot, turn it on and leave it.
9. Roast root vegetables
Alternatively, throw veg in a roasting tin ,with a dash of olive oil and any seasoning, herbs and spices you like, and roast them in the oven at 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for about 45 minutes or until tender. It’s a really easy, tasty and healthy way to cook, but is much better for root vegetables than green veg like broccoli and green beans.
10. Batch cook
When you do make the effort to cook a proper healthy meal, double up the amount you cook and freeze what you don’t use, ready to be defrosted on another day when you’re starving but just can’t be bothered to cook.