Time-saving food preparation hacks

Four prepare-in-advance recipes to liven up your weekday meals

We’ve all been there.

After a weekend of indulgent restaurant meals or snacking by the TV, you promise yourself that this is going to be the week you start eating healthily and begin cooking adventurous recipes for the family from scratch using fresh ingredients. Then Monday rolls around and once again you find yourself reverting back to ready meals, simple sandwiches and boring breakfast cereals just to save time during the working week.

We’re here to change that.

With these clever kitchen hacks, you can prepare in advance so it’s quick and easy to whip up delicious yet nutritious breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for all the family throughout the week, no matter how busy your schedule.

Breakfast of champions

Start the day off right, without having to get up early to prepare breakfast. These overnight oats can be prepared the night before so you can get a few extra precious minutes of sleep in the morning. They’re the perfect source of slow-release energy so you stay full until lunch, plus the combination of smooth natural yoghurt, mellow banana, crunchy hazelnuts and sweet maple syrup creates a tasty breakfast you’ll definitely want to wake up to!

Ingredients

40g porridge oats

100ml natural yoghurt

20g hazelnuts

1 ripe banana

1 tbsp maple syrup

Super salads

Salad leaves like spinach and kale are packed full of nutrients and offer a fantastic low-calorie alternative to shop bought sandwiches, but they can become dull and repetitive if you’re eating the same standard mix day after day. On the other hand, if you choose to add dressing at home in the morning, your salad can often become soggy and wilted by lunchtime. Avoid this common dilemma by preparing this zesty Thai-inspired salad dressing in the blender at the weekend and bringing to work in serving-sized containers, ready to drizzle over fresh salad leaves.

Ingredients

25ml light soy sauce

25ml rice wine vinegar

50ml sesame oil

25ml lime juice

¼ onion, roughly chopped

10g piece of fresh ginger

1 clove garlic

1 lemongrass stalk, chopped

4 tsp turmeric

1 green chilli

1 ½ tsp tamarind paste

Snack attack

Guilty of ruining your best intentions by giving in to the temptation of unhealthy processed chocolate bars or cakes between meals? Then you’ll love these 6 ingredient snack bars, which are oh-so simple to mix up in the blender, require no cooking and are full of naturally sweet, vitamin-filled fruits and filling, protein-rich nuts. Oh, and did we mention they taste incredible?

Ingredients

170g dates

Juice & zest of 1 orange

1 apple

2 tbsp cocoa powder

225g almonds

2 tbsp maple syrup

Spice up your life

Cooking a curry from scratch brings out the flavour of the herbs and spices in a way ready meals will never capture, but with so many ingredients to prepare, it’s not surprising we often reach for microwave alternatives for weekday dinners. Thankfully though, there is another way.

Blitz the ingredients together in the blender when you have time to spare, then spoon into an ice cube tray and place in the freezer. Now, when you fancy a curry midweek, all you have to do is add one cube to the pan along with your choice of meat or vegetables, then once heated, stir in coconut milk, chopped tomatoes or yoghurt to create a rich, aromatic sauce.

Ingredients

½ onion, roughly chopped

2 green chillies

100ml sunflower or vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic

1 ripe tomato

1 tbsp cumin

Bunch of fresh coriander

20g piece of fresh ginger

Category: Advice