We’ve all had those days. The ones where the clock seems to move at triple speed as we rush from one job to another, barely stopping to take a breath in between.
It feels like an uphill battle just to keep on top of the basics and the notion of cooking up something healthy gets relegated to some forgotten backwater of our minds.
Often when life gets crazy tear-your-hair-out busy, it just seems easier to fall back on a diet of greasy takeaway meals, chips and chocolate snacks, and mountains of coffee. Right at the time that our poor stressed bodies are crying out for nourishing, real food!
This year, as I’ve gradually flipped to a more natural, fresh and plant-based diet, I’ve become even more aware of the lack of choice in takeaway shops and corner stores. So, without even realising it, I started inventing a few little fallbacks to help myself continue eating well even if I only have a few minutes to spare each day.
It’s surprisingly easy and requires only the tiniest bit of preparation.
Today I’m going to share my four favourite tips for wholesome vegan fast food when life gets chaotic. These options also helpful on those days when you’re feeling a little lazy or sluggish.
1. The freezer is your friend: Meals in minutes
Often it’s most difficult to eat healthily when you’re exhausted, starving and your pantry resembles a barren wasteland. But with a tiny bit of pre-preparation that won’t actually feel like extra work at all, you can store away your own tasty TV dinners that can be pulled out of the freezer and reheated in no time.
Here’s how I do it. Whenever I cook up a large, hot meal, I pop at least one serving in a reusable plastic container, click on the lid and throw it straight into the freezer. Done. Seriously, it’s that easy. No extra cooking required and less leftovers slowly rotting at the bottom of your fridge. As an added bonus, you’re saving on all the packaging of store-bought premade meals.
Soaps, curries and stews are the best candidates for this treatment. My favourite freeze-and-reheat recipes are Mum’s roast pumpkin and cannellini bean soup, Alana’s quick and easy chickpea curry, and this sweet potato cinnamon soup.
2. No, really, the freezer is your friend: Fast fruity breakfasts
Another way to combat the old “empty fridge equals junk for breakfast” scenario is to keep rich fruits stored away in your new best friend, the freezer. Pull them out and whizz them up with some soy milk for a healthy smoothie brekkie made in minutes.
Have to run? Pour your smoothie into a jar, pop on the lid and off you go.
A little tip: frozen bananas are smoothie miracle workers. You can throw them into just about any combination for a thicker, creamier and naturally sweeter smoothie. Like this choc-banana shake, for example. Yum. Overripe bananas are perfect for this treatment so don’t throw them out, even if their skin has turned brown. Just peel them, cut them into quarters and freeze them in a reusable plastic container.
Other fruits like strawberries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, pineapples and grapes all work well, too. I like to buy a kilogram or so of whatever is in season to keep the cost down, and chop half up for the freezer. Of course, you can also purchase frozen fruit from the supermarket.
3. Let nuts be your snack saviour
Carry a handbag? Pack that sucker with a small stash of nuts for those days when you’re crazy busy or find yourself far from home and ravenously hungry. It could be the difference between merrily carrying on with your day or a full-scale hangry meltdown.
Nuts are packed with protein so your body scores a sustainable energy boost and other nutritional goodies that chips and chocolate bars just can’t deliver. You can also mix in a few sultanas or dates to satisfy your sweet tooth.
4. Embrace the “bread” that never goes stale
Some people turn up their noses at rice or corn crackers, failing to realise their innate awesomeness: they’re a great bread substitute which, when kept in a airtight container, never go stale. Pull them out of the pantry for a quick meal whenever you’re pressed for time.
My personal favourite is four crackers slathered with tahini then topped with spinach, grated carrot and pumpkin seeds (as in the photo at the beginning of this post), which literally takes about three minutes to throw together. Or spread a little peanut butter or hummus across two crackers and sandwich them together for a quick snack as you walk out the door.
Do you guys have any hot tips for eating well while on the run?