Planning, planning, planning You hear me go on about it, and you hear our clients explain what helps them achieve results. A lot of people blame lack of time and think that it’ll get sorted. But it seldom tends to sort itself out on its own …

These are other signs that your planning is failing:

  • You lack the right components and ingredients to be able to organise healthy and well-balanced meals so that it’s all too easy for you to opt for curry or pizza instead
  • You overeat in the evening to catch up on your calorie intake (if you have any idea what that is)
  • You throw food away every week
  • You miss meals at work because you haven’t got anything edible with you

There are some simple solutions to make planning a recurring activity that actually makes your life easier and doesn’t stress you out. Because the more stressed you are, the more planning is going to make life easier, and the less time you have, the more thankful you’re going to be not to have to think about what you should or shouldn’t eat.

Some tips:

You don’t have to spend a whole weekend planning meals. My best advice is to choose two occasions per week for planning your meals, e.g. Wednesdays and Sundays. An example of a quick meal: boil brown rice/quinoa on the hob – it takes no longer than 20 minutes. In that time, you can take some sweet potatoes, cut them in half and prepare the oven to bake them. And since you’ve got the oven on anyway, why not throw in some salmon fillets or chicken breast fillets in a dish? And while you have the potatoes in the oven, that’s a good time to boil some eggs. The eggs can be a part of a snack or lunch (e.g. a big filling salad) and the chicken a part of your sandwich lunch.

Another suggestion is to acquire a slow cooker. You basically wake up to a lunch box that’s all ready to go. And if you’re smart, you’ll prepare several lunches at a time – it’s not the end of the world if you end up eating 3 similar lunches during the week!

What about vegetables? That’s not a problem these days – you can buy ready-chopped (and washed!) vegetables in any supermarket.

Buy canned, tinned or packaged food. A carton of beans can be your saviour when you don’t have access to ready-cooked carbs. Open whichever can of beans you want, and you have access to nutritious carbs that are rich in fibre. You can even get good bean mixtures where you get various different beans, sweetcorn and salsa.

Other good tinned food: mackerel in tomato sauce, sardines, tuna.

What about spreads, dressings and sauces? Obviously, you don’t have to eat dry food! If you have don’t have much time to plan, keep some of these at home/at work: hummus, soya sauce, pesto, tapenade, mustard, honey, lemon/lime juice, anchovies and olives.

Sure, you can make your own sauces if you want to (there’s nothing wrong with that), but sometimes ‘good enough’ is fine – it doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’.

Other things to think about when you’re preparing your meals

Certain foods go well together, and others don’t. Avoid putting the dressing on a salad in advance. It may become soggy, the same applies to sandwiches, for example.

If you have coated meat with breadcrumbs, the breadcrumbs may become soft after a day or two in the fridge. If you know that you’re to have quark as a snack, avoid mixing it with things like nuts in advance. The nuts will become soft, and nuts are best crispy. Certain foods freeze well, and others don’t. Pasta, boiled carbs like rice and quinoa, soups and casseroles are excellent for freezing. Vegetables and fruits work as well, but remember that when you thaw them, they will become softer, so they’ll be better in smoothies and omelettes rather than in salads. Things that don’t work well are cottage cheese, crème fraiche, cheese, sour cream and yoghurt. They become gritty when thawed.