My 6 healthy hacks

Many people think being healthy is all about willpower – but in my experience, making healthy choices is directly linked to preparation and organisation. The less organised you are with meal planning and prepping, the more likely you are to have to grab something less healthy on the go, or to reach for a sugary snack to keep you going.

With that in mind, here are a few healthy, time-saving hacks, for which your future self will be grateful:

01. Frozen fruit and veg

Most supermarkets have a great selection of frozen fruit and vegetables, which are so handy when you haven’t been shopping. Some of them are also higher in nutrients than fresh produce, which may have travelled many miles before it has reached you.

Overripe bananas? Stick them in the freezer, and use for smoothies and ‘nice cream’. Frozen veg can be added to cupboard staples (see below) for a quick and easy meal.

02. Batch cook

Cook more than you need, and freeze the rest. Sounds obvious but this is a proper time (and cost) saver. I will usually do a big batch of Bolognese sauce, chilli, stew or soup to stick in the freezer, so I’ve always got something ready to go when I’m short on time. Look at the serving quantities in recipes and double them to stick the leftovers in the freezer. If you know you’re going to have a busy period coming up, it’s worth investing a few hours in the kitchen beforehand to fill up your freezer.

03. Cupboard staples

There are some things that I always have in the cupboard, which I know that I can add to a basic meal for extra goodness:

  • Tahini – for salad dressings and smoothies. And my favourite – hummus.
  • Tinned beans – add to any salad for an extra protein hit. My favourites are chickpeas (did I mention I love hummus?), black beans, edamame, butter beans. 
  • Eggs – for the quickest and easiest of meals. Enjoy on toast (use your frozen veg), omelette, frittata, boiled in a salad. The list goes on…
  • Lentils and grains – especially the cooked ones in packets for a quick meal.
  • Seed mix – full of healthy fats and protein, and great for sprinkling on salads, eggs on toast, smoothies.
  • Kimchee – a gut-loving addition to salads, soups, or eggs on toast.

04. Healthy snacks

We all know that feeling when we’re so desperate for food that we end up making not-so-healthy choices. Make sure you have some healthy snack ingredients in the cupboard to keep you going. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Oatcakes
  • Olives (in a jar)
  • Ingredients for hummus
  • Protein powder (mix with milk for a shake or smoothie)
  • Dried fruit (though careful not to overdo it as dried fruit is high in sugar)

It might sound dull and obvious but planning ahead can save a lot of time, stress and food waste. If you’re the kind of person that likes to plan each meal for the week meticulously, then great. If not, don’t worry – personally I prefer to plan two or three meals throughout the week, but otherwise decide what I fancy on the day based on what’s in the fridge. The key is having enough in your fridge to do this – I order a veg box (mine’s from Riverford) or stock up on a variety of colourful veggies early in the week, then plan a meal around whatever I have (and what’s looking a bit peaky!).

05. Plan ahead

A meal planner can be really helpful to keep you focused and track healthy habits – I love the Frugality’s meal planner, and Papier do lovely ones too.

06. A final note… Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Sometimes we’re so focused on eating healthily that we see anything less than ‘perfect’ as a failure, and then give up entirely. Make small changes and swaps, do the best you can with the time you have and try not to let eating healthily become a chore.

Don’t have all the ingredients for a healthy recipe you want to make? Don’t be afraid to make substitutions and do it your way. It’s not all about complicated recipes and weird and wonderful ingredients that you spend several hours hunting the shops for. Experiment and have fun in the kitchen with different ingredients that you love – you can’t go wrong.