The Busy Week Healthier Meal Plan

In our family my husband works long hours, I work every day and we have three small children and a dog. Add in the fact that we both volunteer on committees, exercise regularly, have hobbies and the children do after school clubs and our weeks can get pretty busy. Having a good solid routine (that is habit) helps tremendously but some weeks an extra deadline or commitment can tip the balance and I need to focus on that and not spending lots of time in the kitchen.

Here is my version of a healthy eating meal plan when you are time short but wanting to still eat well.

NB: I normally try to make as much myself as possible in part to avoid excessive single use plastic. In weeks like this I have to put that desire to the side so that I can focus on health first. I am no health expert (clearly! haha) – this is just what we do instead of getting takeaways or buying lots of processed food and whilst it is far from perfect it is better than the take out option.

Mon – V – Vegetable stir fry

Buy a bag of stir fry vegetables and cook as per instructions on bag. At the same time boil a pan of water and put in a nest of medium egg noodles per person. Either add a sachet of stir fry sauce to the veggies or just add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of Chinese 5 spice. Drain noodles, mix with veggies and serve.

Tue – F – Omega 3 Fish Finger Sandwiches

Cook Fish Fingers as per instructions on pack, serve in wholemeal or granary bread with lots of spinach and salad leaves.

Wed – V – Pesto Pasta loaded with Vegetables

I get a big pan out, chuck in some wholemeal pasta and an equal amount of frozen vegetables (green beans, peas, broccoli, spinach etc). Cook until the pasta is just cooked through and then drain. Mix with half a jar of red pesto and half a tub of soft cheese. Serve as it is or with a handful of salad leaves (from a bag) on the side.

Thu – F – Sardines on toast

Toast some wholemeal or granary bread. Add a tin of mashed up Sardines (the ones in tomato or spicy sauce are the best), sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese (buy pre grated if you have no time) and grill until it is warmed through and a little crispy on top.

My children normally have beans on toast instead of this – I am still working on convincing them…!

Fri – P – Chicken Wraps (or quorn if veggie)

Grab a bag of  frozen chicken strips/pieces, add some frozen sliced peppers – fry off and add the other half of the jar of red pesto (and a little water if too dry). Eat in wholemeal wraps with salad (from a bag if no time to prep).

Sat – V – Vegetable Soup & granary bread.

Either buy a fresh tub of soup from the supermarket (take caution though as they often have lots of salt and sugar) or buy a bag of diced sweet potato and butternut squash, put it in a pan, add a handful of frozen diced onion, two vegetable stock cubes and cover with water. Boil until cooked. Eat as it or blitz with a hand blender (you can make it less thick by adding more water).

Sun – P – Chicken Dinner

Put some chicken breasts in the oven (covered with foil) to cook. On the hob cook a selection of frozen vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans etc. Microwave a bag of frozen mashed potato. Once all cooked, serve with instant gravy.

Quick Healthy Snacks for the week (aside from fruit) can be:

Carrot batons (bought in a bag) with houmous or soft cheese.

Dried mango with a natural yoghurt ‘dip’.

Malt loaf slices.

Fruit toast lightly buttered.

Make it more guilt free:

To make it slightly more eco friendly make sure you check if the plastic bags are recyclable with carrier bags (a lot say on the back of the bag). One quick way to check is if the bag is stretchy (and not black) then it is likely to be able to be recycled. Save these up in a carrier bag and take to your local carrier bag recycling point (check your supermarket) or hand back to a delivery driver if you get online shopping. Also most plastic punnets can now be recycling along with the normal cardboard etc – check your local council for more info.

Healthier Lunchbox Treats & Snacks

As I have been living more consciously and reflecting on how I want to live my life, one of the areas that I have been working on is trying to reduce the amount of plastic we purchase as well as eating healthier.

One good way I thought to do this was to bake healthier items for lunchboxes and snacks instead of reaching for the sugar filled cereal bars and biscuits.

This week I have made:

Flapjack Cakes (recipe from The Savvy Shoppers Cookbook)

These are really easy to make and also nice and filling. The recipe makes 16 squares which are a perfect size for lunch boxes or a mid morning snack. I have never successfully made flapjacks so I am glad to have found an easy recipe that I can bake which is healthy and not as sweet as flapjacks are.

The other item I have baked this week is the Apple & Cinnamon Loaf Cake (from A Girl Called Jack recipe book).

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This is so soft and moreish – a firm favourite in our house!

I normally try to bake two healthier items each weekend and they last for lunchboxes during the week. If I am feeling really organised I will cook double and freeze half so I can have a weekend off.

These get put in reusable tubs in my children’s lunchboxes and so this avoids lots of plastic wrappers from cereal bars and biscuits which is an added bonus!

Buying less single use plastic is really important to me, it is such a huge task so I am approaching it by trying to swap one thing at a time.

Healthy Meal Plan 1

I am going to share some of the meal plans I have used as I find sometimes seeing other peoples meals can provide ideas and inspiration.

As a rule of thumb I try to have two fish based meals (F), a minimum of two vegetarian meals a week (V), two poultry based meals (P) and one other (O). I made this decision as we were eating quite a lot of red meat and I know that this is something we should cut back on and we also were not eating enough fish.

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My Meal Plan – This was for the first week in January.

Mon – V – Homemade Tomato & vegetable pasta (using up mushrooms, courgette and green beans from the fridge).

Tue – F – Homemade Mackerel curry rice – using tinned mackerel (The Savvy Shopper Cookbook)

Wed – P – Homemade chicken super noodles + veg sticks (The Savvy Shopper Cookbook)

Thu – O – Quiche, new potatoes & salad

Fri – O – Homemade Macaroni cheese, with bacon, green beans, mushroom & courgette (pictured) (A Girl Called Jack Recipe Book)

Sat – V – Naan Bread Pizzas – using courgette, mushroom, pepper, baked beans and cheese

Sun – V – Crackers, Cheese, Veg Sticks, Chutneys (using up the Christmas food)

I have a few cookbooks that I come back to again and again for cheap, healthy, tasty but most importantly quick to make recipes. These are:
The Savvy Shopper’s Cookbook
A Girl Called Jack – 100 Delicious Budget Recipes
Cooking on a Bootstrap
Feeding Kids – The Netmums Cookery Book
If I use these recipes during my meal plan I will note next to them which book I’ve used.