Prep ahead for a better work/life balance

14th October 2020 | Eativity editors

When it comes to making healthy choices at meal times and managing our work/life balance, time can often get the better of us. This can lead to the temptation of reaching for more convenient, less healthy food options. But if you’re smart and plan ahead, you can be prepared when hunger strikes with satisfying and nutritious meals and snacks. To help you reap the benefits of meal-prepping, dietitian Susie Burrell has shared her top tips with us.

Deciding on a weekly menu and writing a shopping list to take with you to the supermarket not only reduces the amount of time you need to spend at the shops, it also helps to reduce food waste. But most importantly for your health, making a plan for your week’s meals and snacks increases the likelihood of you preparing and eating nutritious food.

Food prepping is also a fantastic way to establish and then reinforce positive eating habits. By choosing meals and snacks that include a variety of fresh, whole foods, you’ll also be providing your body with enough energy to get you through the day.

With tasty and wholesome meals ready to go when you are, your busy day is sorted.

“Come meal time, when energy levels are depleted, our brains go into overdrive to find the quickest source of food,” Burrell says. “The temptation and convenience of fast food or takeaway can easily outweigh the time spent making a nutritious meal, especially if there’s nothing in the fridge. This is also why you should never go shopping when you’re hungry!”

Because fast food rarely provides your body with the nutrients it needs, eating it can make your body crave more food, which then makes it all too easy to fall into the trap of over-snacking or eating larger portions in an effort to feel full.

“When preparing your menu and shopping list, each meal should include a protein source such as meat, eggs, nuts or beans; a few serves of fruit or vegetables; and whole grains such as pasta, oats or wholemeal bread,” Burrell advises.

“Adding a protein-rich snack to your shopping list for when that afternoon hunger hits also helps to avoid a visit to the vending machine. A 100 percent natural peanut butter like Mayver’s on apple slices will provide an energy boost and help keep you fuller for longer.”

Lastly, Burrell says to ensure your meal plan takes your lifestyle into account. For instance, do you like to sleep in? Do your kids’ tummies start rumbling at 6pm? Also think about the kitchen facilities you have available to you at work as well as the logistics of your commute.

Run out of clean Tupperware? Big jars are perfect for salads.

Susie Burrell’s five tips for food prepping:

• Before visiting the supermarket or farmers’ market, write a weekly menu and shopping list.
• Choose meals that include a protein, wholegrains and fruits or vegetables.
• Take into account your lifestyle and how much time you have to prepare and eat meals.
• Don’t forget to add a protein-rich snack to your shopping list for when hunger strikes.
• When on the go, store cold and hot food separately for an easy re-heat, and don’t add dressings until you’re ready to eat.

Try these quick-prep recipes from Mayver’s and nutritionist Tracey Morter that build on the great taste of just nuts and a pinch of salt, are nutritious and take minimal time to cook.

Simple chicken peanut noodles

Serves 4

You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs, about 500g
1 tbsp olive oil
1 packet dried, flat rice noodles
4 tbsp Mayver’s Smooth Peanut Butter
4 tbsp soy sauce
1½ tsp sesame oil
1 cup chicken stock
½ red capsicum thinly sliced
12 snow peas
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Method:

1. Chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Heat a large frypan with olive oil and fry the chicken pieces for about 5 minutes, until browned and just cooked.
2. Cook rice noodles until just tender to bite (2- 5 minutes, depending on thickness of the noodles), then drain and rinse well with cold water.  Set aside.
3. In the meantime, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together Mayver’s Smooth Peanut Butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and chicken stock until combined. 
4. Add the capsicum and snow peas to the chicken in the frypan and tip the sauce mixture over, stirring and combining until it’s heated through and bubbling.
5. Add the rice noodles to the frypan and combine, coating all the noodles with the sauce.
6. Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of spring onions and sesame seeds.

Tip: if you prefer more texture and crunch, use Mayver’s Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter.

Peanut apple smoothie

Serves 2

You’ll need:

½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp Mayver’s Protein Peanut Butter
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ Granny Smith apple*, roughly chopped
1 pitted date
2 ice blocks

Method:

1. Place ingredients into blender in the order listed.
2. Blend on high for about 20 seconds or until smooth.

Tip: for a more robust peanut flavour use Mayver’s Dark Roasted Peanut Butter.
* You can use any type of apple for this recipe. Use the other half of the apple later, sliced and dipped into peanut butter for a delicious snack.

Peanut popcorn bars

Serves 12-16

You’ll need:

For the popcorn

2 tsp coconut oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup popcorn kernels

For the coating

100g butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup Mayver’s Crunchy Peanut Butter

Method:

1. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan on medium to high heat.
2. When oil is melted, add salt and popcorn. Put lid on the pan, turn up heat to high.
3. Shake the saucepan vigorously and release the steam at regular intervals by lifting the lid slightly until all the corn is popped.
4. Pour popcorn into a large bowl and let cool.
5. Use baking paper to line a brownie or slice tray.
6. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.
7. Take off the heat, whisk through maple syrup and Mayver’s Crunchy Peanut Butter.
8. Pour mixture over popcorn and mix thoroughly, making sure all popcorn is coated.
9. Pour mixture into lined tray, press down firmly with the back of a metal spoon all over.
10. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
11. Carefully lift out of tray by pulling up the baking paper. Cut into bar slices and enjoy!

For more recipe ideas, head to mayvers.com.au

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