Kate Freeman

My top tips to stay organised with your food

If we met for an appointment, is this is a conversation that you’d have with me?

New client: “Can you please help me eat well? I want to change my lifestyle and form healthy eating habits.”

Me: “Absolutely, I can definitely help you with that.”

New client:Cause I live a really busy life and don’t have time to cook, prepare food and do anything complicated.”

The tips that I’ve included are the habits that I put into practice every day. They help me and my family eat fresh, whole, healthy food, even when the week is full and I have limited time.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that there is no actual ‘secret’ to eating really well without any effort. It just doesn’t exist (unless you have a full time personal chef and in that case, I’m available but very expensive!).

You will need to change some habits, re-arrange some routines and put in a little work. Fresh food requires preparation and cooking. It has a short shelf life and needs to be regularly bought to keep your kitchen stocked. There is no magic bullet. You just have to use trial and error and find what works for you.

In saying that, you don’t have to be the other extreme. You certainly don’t need to be thinking about food all the time and prepping your meals every moment of your life. Food is there is fuel your body and help you live life to the fullest, not the other way around. You also don’t need to have a perfect diet. I don’t actually believe that there is such a thing. Work at finding the balance that’s right for you. Healthy eating looks different for everyone.

Here are my BEST EVER food organisation tips to help you eat well, even when you’re busy!

Portion up chicken tenderloins.

I buy a large packet of them in my weekend grocery shop and upon returning home from the supermarket, pop two tenderloins each into snap lock bags and chuck them in the freezer. Each morning I grab a serve of tenderloins, take them to work and cook them on my sandwich press.

chicken, sandwich press, healthy eating tips

To cook tenderloins on the sandwich press, season with herbs, salt, spices and cook for 3-4 minutes with the lid down.

Boil up rice, quinoa or pasta in bulk.

Wholemeal or brown are the best choices and once cooked, place 1/2 – 1 cup (depending on your relevant  portion size) in a snap lock bag, flatten into a disc and freeze your individual portions. Just grab and go in the morning and microwave for 30-40 seconds. Serve with a salad, curry or stir fry.

Chop up a watermelon, rock melon or pineapple into cubes.

Keep it in a container in the fridge for a quick, sweet, easy snack or smoothie ingredient.

Store your fruit and vegetables in PEAKfresh bags in the fridge!

They are AMAZING! Seriously, you will cut wastage of your fresh produce. Then, when you buy fruit and vegetables for the whole week, you can be sure that by the end of the week, it’s still fresh and delicious to eat.

peakfresh bag, strawberries, fresh

Strawberries in a PEAKfresh bag last for up to a week longer!

Make up a large bowl of salad to last you for a few days.

Using a big bag of green salad leaves, a cucumber, red capsicum, red onion, avocado, cherry tomatoes and carrot, make up a large bowl of salad, by cutting all your ingredients and tossing them together. This will last you a few days in the fridge and you’ve got a quick, easy way to add half a plate of vegetables to any meal you make.

salad, healthy eating, easy

A large salad just like this is a staple in my home every week. I’m asked to bring a salad to almost every social occasion I’m invited to. Sometimes I bring ice cream just to shake things up!

Keep your freezer stocked with individual steam fresh bags of vegetables.

These are the perfect way to add vegetables when you’ve run out of fresh produce. Vegetables make a meal more filling and nutrient dense, no matter what else you’re eating. Frozen vegetables are also just as nutritious as fresh vegetables.

Cook in bulk.

Large cook ups are a fantastic way to prepare your lunches and meals for a busy week. I love to cook up big batches of spaghetti bolognesegreen currylamb and lentil stewasian chicken broth, and slow cooked chicken korma! Tasty home cooked food in a flash! I like to think of it as my motivated self looking after my lazy self!

bulk cooking - lamb and lentil stew

Lamb and lentil stew – cooked in bulk.

Store bunches of herbs in a glass or small vase with a little bit of water, in the fridge.

Cover them with a PEAKfresh or freezer bag. They can last up to two weeks this way and then you can use your whole bunch of herbs over a few meals rather than it being used once and the rest going to waste because it won’t last it your fridge. I store basil, coriander and continental parsley this way.

storing fresh herbs

Place in a glass of water, cover with a plastic bag. No more wasted fresh herbs!

Make lunch at the same time that you’re making your dinner.

This has to be my all time favourite habit and is pivotal to me having a healthy lunch each day. I don’t have much time in the mornings, so it’s got to happen the night before. I’m inherently lazy after dinner, so if it doesn’t happen before dinner, it doesn’t happen. I do actually quite enjoy cooking, so making my lunch while I’m making dinner is all about killing two birds with one stone. I’m in the kitchen doing food prep, so I may as well prep as much as I can. This habit is about getting what needs to get done, done. Most times, to make things even easier, lunch is the same as dinner. I just serve out five plates (well, 4 plates and 1 container) instead of four. Easy peasy.

food organisation tips

Making my lunch at the same time I’m making dinner is probably my BEST tip!

Get your fresh produce delivered.

A few local Canberra businesses, Vegies to Your Door and farmerscrops, deliver great quality fruit and vegetables as well as yoghurt, milk, meat, coffee and more. If you don’t have time to go out to the market to get your fresh food, get market quality produce delivered and do your shopping without leaving the couch! I love it!

vegetables delivered

A box of goodness from Vegies to Your Door.

Finally, my greatest organisation tip of all time:

Meal planning.

It is so important. When I’ve organised my week, figured out what was going on each night and planned accordingly, myself and the family eat so much better. My meal plan helps me with grocery shopping, saving money and the stress of meal preparation on a busy evening with lots of commitments. The Healthy Eating Hub has some great printable resources that can help you with your planning and shopping.

The Tale of the Headless Chicken!

I wrote a book on the key principle of meal planning and how to eat well, despite a busy schedule! It’s called, The Tale of the Headless Chicken and it’s packed full of all of my best tips plus an extensive list of over 100 healthy takeaway foods, healthy tips for dining out and how to create a meal plan that encourages weight loss and it easy to follow! Buy now.

A note on ‘busy’

I recently attended a presentation given by Emma Grey from Work Life Bliss. She talked about the 7 Types of Busy. It was a fantastic presentation that really highlighted some key areas of why sometimes we’re too busy to eat well, exercise or just look after ourselves properly.

I would challenge you to look further at your lifestyle. If you’re too busy to do some basic planning, food preparation and organisation so you can eat well and exercise, then you’re probably too busy all round. Maybe it’s time to see how you can change things up so you can priorities yourself again?

Kate specialises in everyday nutrition for busy people. If you’d like some help with finding a healthy eating pattern that works for you please make an appointment with Kate. She sees clients on Tuesdays at The Healthy Eating Hub in Canberra via Skype or in person.

Article by Kate Freeman

Registered Nutritionist. Writer. Presenter. Home cook. Mother. Wife. Runner. Hiker. Amateur photographer.