Tips for creating quick and easy healthy meals

By Lisa Brant | 28th October 2015
A picture of a woman and child laughing as they cook using fresh produce

We all lead busy lives and sometimes we make choices about what to eat based on the time (in particular the short time!) it can take to cook. Many guests here at La Crisalida often express their concerns about how to continue with the healthy eating at home, and some even ask to take one of our chefs home with them! Although we can´t give away our chefs, in this article we give you some tips about how to create quick easy and healthy meals at home.

  • Cook once, eat twice!

Make larger portions of your favourite recipes and freeze. Things like bean burgers, veggie chili (with beans or lentils), soups (like our roast squash soup – insert link), all freeze and defrost well. Portion them up into the right size for your or your family, using plastic containers, add the date (and name) to the front of the container, allow to cool then place in the freezer. When you are in need of a quick meal or snack, all you need to do is take them out of the freezer before you go to work (or a couple of hours in advance of meal time) to allow them to defrost.

  • Cook two meals at the same time!

One of our guests explained that every Sunday she cooks for the next few days ahead. Whilst cooking her evening meal she would chop and cook at least one other dish that could be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer, so she has a different meal ready for her family.

  • Plan ahead

If you are having roast veggies for your evening meal, chop a double-sized portion and cook as normal. You can then use half of the roast veggies the next day, either with rice or in a soup.

  • Cook your beans and chickpeas in bulk

When using dried beans or chickpeas, soak all of the beans from the whole bag overnight. Cook the beans the next morning (maybe whilst eating your breakfast or getting ready to go to work), then put the cooked beans/chickpeas into a screw top glass jar, cover with boiling water, close the lid and turn upside down. Allow to cool. This reseals the jar meaning that the beans/chickpeas can be stored in your fridge for a couple of weeks. Remember to date the jar. If the seal does not reclose, use within 3-5 days.

  • Salad dressings

Most dressings will keep for a few days in the fridge, so make a larger portion and keep it in a screw top jar in the fridge, ready for the next time you want a salad. Some of our recipes for simple salad dressings can be found here.

  • One pot

One pot dishes are great. Our brown rice salad (make it hot in winter) is easy and filling. Remember to use a variety of coloured veggies. Adding in lentils, beans or chickpeas will make it a complete vegan meal. You can also think “one pot” for the oven – peel and chop some veggies (we love sweet potato, carrot, leek, garlic, courgette and parsnip), sprinkle with water and your favourite herbs, then place in the oven – leave to roast on a medium-low heat for up to an hour (shaking occasionally). Save even more time by buying organic and then all you need to do is wash your veggies – roast them skin on. You can get on with other things. Yum!

  • Speedy stir fry

Stir fries, served with rice noodles are quick and filling meals. Rice noodles only take 2-3 minutes to cook. Throw some veggies into your wok or large pan, use water instead of oil for frying (keep topping up with a little extra water to prevent the veggies from sticking) – this saves 135 calories per tablespoon. Serve and enjoy. Quick, fresh and filling.

  • Build up your supply of healthy recipes

Print your favourite healthy recipes and make your own folder containing any recipes that you love and that you find quick, easy and filling.

  • Order fruit, veggies and shopping online

Order your fruit and veggies, plus store cupboard items, online for delivery at a time to suit you. You can usually create a regular shopping list so that you can easily re-order next time. This helps to save time, and also money (as you will not be seduced by any tempting marketing in the shop!). Maybe consider signing up for a veggie box delivery from a local farmer – fresh veggies each week delivered to your door. The added benefits include eating fresh seasonal veggies, as well as supporting your local community. (Although you might need to get creative with your recipes!)

  • Stock up your store cupboard

Build up your standard store cupboard items – we always have rice, rice noodles, millet or buckwheat, some cooked beans or chickpeas, dried herbs and spices in our cupboard. Onions or leeks keep for a long time in the fridge, as does lemon. Frozen veggies like peas or sweetcorn are great to reach for rather than a takeaway. If you have an excess of veggies, you can chop them up and freeze.

Snacking tips

  • Hummus – make your own hummus and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze hummus and defrost whenever you need it. If it needs pepping up (after defrosting) or if you fancy a change, add in some cooked beetroot, olives or roasted peppers.
  • Veggie sticks – cut and place in a sealed bag in the fridge. It will save you time, rather than reaching for the crisps, the veggie sticks are ready and waiting.
  • Cherry tomatoes are a great quick and easy snack – keep a tub in your fridge.
  • Toasted/roasted nuts and seeds. We buy raw nuts and roast them in batches; toasted nuts store well for a few weeks in an airtight container.

What you will need

  • Portion sized plastic containers – try the local pound shop. If you are single, you want to pick single sized containers; for families pick larger containers.
  • Glass jars with screw top lids
  • A few of your favourite recipes!
  • An hour or two each week

Have fun!

Headshot of Lisa Brant - Founder of La Crisalida Retreats
Lisa Brant

Lisa has been working in the field of health for over twenty years, first as an epidemiologist and now following a more alternative route! She is a therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa is a nutritionist so designs all our menus, as well as running the retreats. She is also qualified in NLP and hypnosis. Over the years Lisa has overcome her own health challenges with severe endometriosis and is happy to share her story.

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Comments
  • By Pat Willard | 21st October 2017

    Great ideas everyone - so good you feel you can share your culinary experiences.! As a carnivore I found vegan food delicious but was concerned about time taken to prepare - thank you!

  • By La Crisalida Retreats | 21st October 2017

    Hi Pat, thanks for your comments. Glad they were helpful! Lisa and the kitchen team x

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