The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating, Meal Prep and Avoiding Food Waste. This post is literally bursting with healthy tips, ideas and hacks to make healthy choices easy!
Healthy Eating, Meal Prep and Avoiding Food Waste is a sponsored post
Healthy Eating, Meal Prep and Avoiding Food Waste
Oh man, something has finally clicked in my sweet little brain and turned my kitchen into this ridiculously organised and healthy space. I feel I have finally nailed the balance between having lots of healthy foods in the house, and actually eating them #guiltysecret
So it’s time to share the info with you, and ask you to share your best healthy eating/meal planning/food waste tips with us all in the comments below :)
So, grab a coffee (this is a looooong post) and let’s get started. We’re going to break it down into three main areas.
My main downfall with making the wrong food choices comes 100% down to laziness. I love all healthy foods, and when I eat them I feel great. But when I’m hungry (or bored) they are a pain to grab/wash/peel/chop/dice/make a dressing for, especially when you compare that to how quickly I can kick my hunger (boredom) by slicing off a chunk of bread and toasting it.
So this is how I have made bread the most time consuming option…
I go shopping once a week. I buy the rainbow. I get that rainbow home and I prep 80% of it. I wash the veggies, then I peel/dice/slice/julienne/chop till my little heart’s content. Because I’m working with a tonne of veggies, getting the chopping board, and even the spiralizer or mandoline out is no big deal, yet I would rarely bother if I was just going to make a salad for lunch.
These veggies get popped into airtight plastic tubs, on top of a folded sheet of kitchen roll to absorb excess water, and thereby extending lifespan.
The next, dare I say, genius step in the process is to shove all these individual tubs of pre prepared healthy foods into one giant plastic bin. I’m currently using this (brand new & clean) storage tub, but am on the lookout for a more space saving tub designed specifically for #fridgelife.
Bags of ready washed greens (think baby spinach, lettuce, rocket etc) stay in their bags, are clipped shut to prevent them wilting and placed in the giant tub too.
Clearly, I’m not just living on salad veggies, but I feel this one step is responsible for 50% of the positive change in my diet.
Now when lunch time (or the munchies) hit, the only effort necessary is in pulling this one tub out of the fridge. Inside will be everything this body needs to feels awesome.
Proteins, fats, toppings and dressings
Once I’ve dressed a (huge) bowl with my rainbow of veggies, I now refer to it as a nourish bowl. (It’s a thing: pinterest!)
Funny thing, when this beautiful bowl of vibrant goodness is sat on the kitchen counter, I suddenly have all the patience in the world to find extra tasty toppings and make a delicious healthy dressing to go with it. This from the girl that would live on toast for every meal if it was a serious life option. Weird.
I’m also trying to add in some fermented foods to every nourish bowl too, as fermented foods are useful at strengthening your gut health and this will be a top priority for me this year. This could be sauerkraut, kimchee, natto etc. I’m also taking a daily probiotic for the same reason.
I then top my nourish bowl with a healthy protein source, some nuts, seeds or avocado for the healthy fats and grab or make a quick dressing.
Here’s a quick list of my favourite ingredients to power up my nourish bowls. Please let us know in the comments if you have any to add.
Healthy protein ideas:
- Fish (tinned, fresh, defrosted & grilled/steamed/poached, sashimi)
- Legumes and pulses
- Nuts & nut butters
- Olive oil
- Ghee or butter (personally I believe these are healthy fats, but omit if you disagree)
- Eggs (specifically the yolk)
Healthy salad toppings:
- Nuts & seeds
- Toasted coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- Fresh herbs
- Goji berries
- Bean sprouts
- Sauerkraut or kimchee
- Pomegranate seeds
- Sundried tomatoes
Healthy salad dressings
- Tahini sauce
- Avocado dressing
- Olive oil & vinegar or lemon juice
- Oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes
Remember fat is not your enemy. High quality fat is essential for good health and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Meal Planning and Prep
I’ve always secretly sniggered at those Pinterest ladies that are so organised they know exactly what they’ll be eating for dinner, Thursday night two weeks from now. I pride myself on being much more a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.
But not planning at all has its own downsides, namely that I rely on foods that are more immediate (and therefore expensive/unhealthy) and I waste more than I should. So, my baby steps into the structured world of meal planning, begins here.
Breakfasts in our house are the same every day. Jonny has porridge with ‘sprinkles’ (dried fruit, seeds, toasted coconut etc) and I have a piece of rye toast with half an avocado and an egg.
Sunday mornings Jonny has the builders breakfast of champions, and I have a bacon butty with avocado & ketchup. We’re simple souls :)
Because we eat the same breakfast mostly every day, and have done for the longest time, we don’t need to plan this section. However if you’re aiming to completely overhaul your breakfast meal, you may wish to write down your new plan for each day until it becomes second nature.
Jonny works on the farm next door and I work from home so we normally both eat lunch together. As this is our main meal of the day it’s the only one I really plan for.
I use a small whiteboard to plan what each lunch will focus on. I’m only interested in the protein as the rest of the meal will naturally build itself around what’s ready prepped in the fridge, perhaps what bread or wraps we have in or if there’s any leftover rice or pasta.
Every evening I can see at a glance if I need to defrost some meat, fish, seafood or leftovers.
Pre planning = Being prepared = Positive action
Dinner is a very simple affair in our house. We generally have a sandwich, stir fry or wrap (stuffed with veggies from my pre prepped tubs of course!), and once or twice a week one of us will cook a hot meal if we are craving something like a cottage pie or chilli, or we’ll eat out.
Tips to avoid wasting food
Are you still with me? Need to go top up that coffee? Awesome, let’s go!
I have one word in the fight against food waste, and that magic word my friend is… FREEZER.
For the longest time I had this horrible habit of hiding foods in my freezer that I didn’t really want to eat.
For example, I’d make a soup for the blog that wasn’t great and knew I’d have to make again to get the recipe right. But I didn’t want to waste all those good ingredients… so I’d stick the soup in the freezer in the hope that one day I’d magically want to eat it. There it would linger, slowly drowning in frostbite until it was beyond recognition. And only then would I not feel any guilt about throwing it away.
Please tell me I’m not alone?!
Happily this doesn’t happen very often any more, but when it does I now man up, dispose of that food in the best way I can (compost bin, my chickens or the bin) and move on.
So my freezer has now gone from being a frosty waste ground to the hub of my meals. I’m actually tempted to write a whole post on how to get the most from your freezer, please let me know if that is something that would be of interest.
In short – my freezer now stores the food I want to eat, until I am ready to eat it. Duh.
Avoiding Food Waste
I’ve worked with Iceland (for those not in Britain, Iceland is a UK supermarket that specialises in frozen food) for a couple of years now. In creating the massive range of recipes that I have for them, I’ve spent a lot of time walking up and down their aisles. This has opened my eyes beyond belief to the huge range of simple, clean foods that are available already frozen.
Because frozen foods are preserved at the height of the growing season, often at source, and only in ice, their nutritional content is held in stasis until you get them home and defrost them, to suit you. They don’t contain the mass of chemicals found in other preserved convenience foods. And you only need take out and defrost the exact amount you need for each meal, rather than having a large bag slowly rot in the bottom of the fridge when life gets busy.
Here are some of my favourites that I tend to have on hand.
- Fish and seafood
- Leftover shredded meat
- Ready made falafel
- Cooked beans and lentils
Fruit (for smoothies, snacking and puddings)
- Bananas (freeze when they are going brown in your fruit bowl, with skins on. They’ll go black as they freeze, this is fine. Just peel and use in a smoothie or defrost & use for baking.
- Any fruit from the allotment or orchard during a glut
- Peas & sweetcorn
- Butternut squash chunks
- Avocado (I’ve finally got my hands on a bag!!!)
- Any veg from the allotment during a glut
- White or brown rice
- Bread (whole and/or sliced loaves)
- Rye bread
Ready meals (yes, occasionally even I want a meal that I haven’t had to cook, that is healthy and extremely tasty! These are my favourite ones from Iceland. They are all dairy free and utterly delicious)
- Mussels, squid, clams & shrimp in a tomato & herb sauce
- Fish & seafood casserole with squid, hake, mussels, clams & shrimp
- Squid, mussels & prawns in a paella sauce
Preventing Fresh Food Waste
Remember way back at the top of the page I walked you through our ready prepped boxes of veggies? The day before I go shopping, I empty all those tubs out, along with any remaining veggies or fresh herbs I have lying around and chop them up. They then get chucked into my slow cooker along with a couple of blocks of homemade frozen stock (see below), some spices, any meat in the freezer that needs using up or some lentils or legumes. Everything goes in this pot – radishes, beetroot, lettuce, even cucumber! Once the slow cooker has worked its magic, no one will notice their chicken soup or curry has lettuce in it #pinkypromise
Preventing Meat Waste
Say you cook a big joint of meat, or have a large roast chicken this weekend. Here’s how to make the absolute most from your leftovers.
Strip all the meat from the bones and slice, dice or shred the meat. Store this in sizes that would be most convenient for your family. This may be in single serving sized Ziploc bags, or enough meat to feed the whole family in one meal.
As soon as it’s cooled to room temperature pop these bags into the fridge, and the next day mark the bags with a sharpie and pop them in the freezer.
If you want to make stock from the leftovers, simply pop all the bones, skin, sinew and even fat into a slow cooker and cover with water. Let simmer overnight then strain into tubs, cool, and freeze. Whenever a recipe calls for some stock, simply grab one, defrost, top up with water to the required amount and you’re done!
If you made it this far, yay you! Seriously, I could keep going but this post is getting a little long now! :D
If you want to know more about any of the above, please let me know and I’ll do a follow up post soon. In the meantime, it’s your turn! Please dive into the comments and tell us your top tips for healthy eating, meal prep and avoiding food waste.
Huge thanks to Iceland for sponsoring this ultimate guide to healthy eating, meal prep and avoiding food waste, thereby allowing me to continue to bring you tasty content, for free. As always all thoughts (and leftovers!) are my own.