If your healthy eating plans always get ditched because you’ve no time, this post is for you. In a culture where 40% of us are too busy to have breakfast, I’m passionate about putting more emphasis on food preparation and the joy of eating.
That said, a few kitchen short cuts never hurt anyone and if it encourages you to eat better and spend more time enjoying the good life, then it’s a win win.
Although I originally wrote this feature for Cycling Weekly (you can see the article in it’s entirety here), I’m reposting three healthy eating shortcuts that can be used by anyone who wants to eat better on a time budget.
1. Breakfast on overnight oats Rich in slow-release carbohydrate and lower in sugar than pretty much any breakfast cereal, oats are great breakfast fuel, but standing over the stove making porridge takes time, and that’s the one thing we don’t have. The solution is to soak your oats over night. According to Irish oatmeal experts McCann’s, this is the quickest and easiest way to prepare your breakfast. Overnight oats take three minutes or less to prepare, giving you a ready-to-eat breakfast in the morning.
Try it: Mix half a cup of oats (around 50g) with half a cup of yoghurt and half a cup of water (or milk). Throw in a handful of dried fruit, nuts or seeds, stir and leave in the refrigerator. In the morning, stir, adding more milk or yoghurt if needed and top with fruit. Save even more time by preparing a batch of overnight oatmeal in one go.
2. Make smoothie bags Smoothies make great on-the-go breakfasts but if you don’t have all the ingredients to hand you’ll be tempted to leave the house sans breakfast. The fast fix is to make a batch of individual smoothie bags. Load chopped fruits (banana, mango, and berries work well) into freezer bags with a handful of greens and store in your freezer. When you need a fast breakfast or a recovery shake in a hurry, simply shoot one of the bags into a blender with a mug of milk, blitz for a minute and you’re good to go.
Try it: Grab a roll of zip-lock freezer bags, a bag of spinach, a variety of fruits and a marker pen. Chop large fruits (e.g. banana and mango) into pieces and divide the fruits between bags, adding a couple of handfuls of spinach. Squeeze out the air, seal, and label with the contents before stacking in the freezer.
3. Cook once, eat twice Get into the habit of cooking once to eat twice and you’ll find yourself with spare time on your hands and a fridge full of ready-to-eat food. Think in doubles every time you cook and either freeze extra portions or use the next day. Cooking rice? Cook double and use the extra portion for a salad the next day, or reheat with a tomato sauce, chilli, prawns and rocket. Making chilli? Cook extra portions and serve stuffed into pitta with guacamole and salsa, or heap over a sweet potato.
Boiled eggs can be stored for up to one week in the fridge — start the week by boiling a dozen; use sliced over toast for breakfast, in sandwiches, salads or as a post-workout muscle-booster; three eggs will give you the recommended 20g of protein recommended for recovery.
Leftover rice can be fried with a bag of ready-sliced veggies and prawns or ready-cooked chicken. Baked potatoes can be reheated or sliced into salads; leftover vegetables from your Sunday roast can be put in a stew with meat and a jarred sauce or turned into a speedy soup. You get the picture!