The LEAN Team

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Free health and nutrtition tips

Planning quick-to-cook meals for busy evenings


The Basics

You are more likely to eat a balanced meal containing the vitamins and minerals that you require when you prepare your own meal and sit at the dinner table to eat, compared to when you eat on the run. (Unless you’ve packed your own…)

Regular meal eaters have a lower calorie intake than those who eat erratically and are often not as large as those who eat irregularly or who constantly skip meals.. Eating regular meals and snacks will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and avoid high levels of hunger which could result in you over-eating the next time you do eat.


Myths and Misconceptions

  • “Food eaten after 6pm is more fattening”. This is a complete myth. There are many ‘gurus’ out there who routinely state that eating late will turn the food you have eaten into fat. Making this claim is a sure way of telling the pretenders from the professionals. Research has shown that calories eaten in a large meal at night do not make the body store more fat compared to the same amount of calories eaten at another time of day. It’s the amount of calories eaten over the whole day that matter when it comes to weight gain or weight loss. Your body does not digest food eaten at 17.59 any differently than if it’s eaten at 18.01…

  • “A square meal is a cooked meal”. Not necessarily. Although lean meat or fish with two vegetables and potatoes is a balanced meal, so too is a hearty bowl of vegetable soup and bread, or a sandwich (or pitta bread) filled with lean meat and salad. Today, the nearest some people come to a square meal is a pre-packed process meal heated in the microwave – these can be eaten occasionally within a balanced eating planning – look for the healthy choices but beware - they often contain a lot of salt and the portions sizes are hard to judge.


Tips and Tricks

These work for families, couples or those living by themselves.

  • Plan ahead – if there is a day (or two) when you are always late home then plan to have a meal that is quick to cook that night, e.g. pasta and a tomato sauce can be cooked in just 10 minutes. There are lots of great cook books which have quick to prepare recipes – see our choice in our ‘Online Book Find’ section.


  • Cook in bulk. Next time you make a casserole, shepherds pie, or even a curry, make extra portions so that you can freeze some for a later date. This way you can ensure that you always have a nutritious meal in the house.


  • When making pasta or rice in the evening, cook a little more and add in chopped vegetables and nuts to make into a healthy pasta or rice salad for the next day.


  • Stick to the normal meal time for dinner so that as many members of the family as possible sit down together.


  • Keep some ‘healthy choice’ pre-packed frozen foods in the freezer so if you do get in late (or have to go out in a hurry), you have something you can pop in the oven/microwave while you shower.


  • Canned/packet soups (healthy, non-creamy style ones) are great for creating a near instant meal – toast a slice of bread and crumble it to make croutons or add a thin layer of a healthy spread and just dip it in.


  • Crack an egg into a microwave cup, prick the yolk and cover with cling film and microwave for about 50 seconds (ignore the explosions – unless you forgot cling film…!).. In the time it takes to toast the bread you can have egg on toast in a minute.


  • You can get filled pasta that takes 2 minutes to cook – enough time to microwave a small jar of tomato based sauce with added vegetables. Serve with a small bag of ready washed salad and a few cherry tomatoes.


We all like to be healthy and to be sure that we're doing the best we can for ourselves, and our families, health.