How many times this week have you opened the fridge or the cupboard just willing a meal to jump out at you? Even without all the challenges we are currently facing in our busy home lives if you are a busy entrepreneur one area we rarely put our energy into is a balanced diet.
Nutritionist Laurann O’Reilly owns Nutrition By Laurann, a nutrition consultancy business. Alongside clinics in Dublin, Kildare and Tipperary as well as hosting corporate seminars. Covid has forced O’Reilly to adjust her offering and during the restrictions she has developed methods to deliver her business online.
As an entrepreneur herself she understands the challenges faced when trying to keep a balanced diet up when time is scarce, but she is here to tell us it is possible.
“You’ll find that life gets far more seamless, and far more free flowing, when you do have your meals made in advance and when you put the effort into setting aside that one day a week to make your meals,” says O’Reilly. “Because after a busy day at work or home-schooling or whatever you have going on in your life there is nothing better than having your meals prepped in the evening. You take them out of the fridge or freezer and simply heat them up. It reduces the temptation of going for take away food or unhealthier options.”
So how do we get good at food prep? O’Reilly has given us a few tips on how to make sure we plan for the days and week ahead.
Make a shopping list and meal plan.
Vitally important if you are getting into a food prep routine. Plan which meals you are making, what ingredients you will need and make your list before you head to the shops. This will help you reduce food waste as you won’t be filling your trolley with items you won’t use – it’s also a cost-effective exercise.
Invest in good safe Tupperware.
This is a must. O’Reilly is a big fan of the Sistema brand of Tupperware which can be found in Tesco, and on occasion, Lidl and Aldi. Using cheaper products or reusing containers that you are not sure of their composition can be harmful when they are heated, make sure you are only reheating food in on BPA free products.
Plan one day in the week for meal prep.
Often a Sunday but if taking a few hours out of your Sunday is going to infringe on quality time with your family, or activities, then try finding an evening in the week once the kids are in bed.
Remove temptation from your kitchen.
O’Reilly recommends we clear our cupboards of any sugary snacks and quick fixes that might tempt us away from our pre-made meals and snacks. Replace these snacks with some healthier options which won’t create a sugar spike. Pre-chopped fruit and veg stored in the fridge and a pot of hummus to hand can keep cravings at bay.
If you lack storage space part cook meals.
Not everyone has large fridges or freezers, especially if you are sharing a kitchen in rented accommodation. If you are struggling for space the best alternative is to have your proteins precooked ready to pop into a few meals during the week. O’Reilly suggests cooking up batches of chicken and salmon that you can easily add to dishes in the evening therefore saving on long cooking times.
Get smart about your drinking.
Are you drinking enough water? O’Reilly recommends we become aware of our daily water and coffee intake. If you are not a huge fan of plain water, she suggests adding fruit to infuse it, this will help you avoid adding any dilutants which contain artificial sweeteners, and it should keep you away from reaching for the fizzy drinks. As for the coffee intake the daily recommended limit is four shots of coffee, so if you are out and about grabbing a takeaway coffee, while supporting your favourite coffeeshop, make sure you ask for one shot of coffee, that way you have three more chances to enjoy your favourite brew during the day.
If you do have to reach for the ready meals go for quality.
O’Reilly has lots of experience in this area having worked in quality control in a food manufacturing plant which made ready meals. Do your research, there are some great companies now selling freshly prepared ready meals like Dublin’s Eatto. Supermarket wise, you get what you pay for and O’Reilly recommends going for brands which have a bigger budget like Marks and Spencer. If the offer sounds too good to be true then it really is when it comes to ready meals.
If you are still at odds about what meals you want to plan for the week ahead, Nutrition By Laurann has a free meal planning guide which you can download here.