Tips and bits

Cooking for 1 tips
  • Try not to buy in huge quantities – you will end up chucking things away or end up over-eating. Buy little and often or plan the weeks meals so you know you can use up the fresh items.
  •  Keep a stash or freezer bags and tubs for leftovers – either to freeze for another day or to take to work for lunch the next day.
  • Freeze sliced bread and rolls in a tub and just take out what you need each day. It will defrost quickly in the toaster.
  • Keep some essentials, but for things you may not use often such as flour and sugar (for me) just get a few tablespoons when you need it from other people!
  • Frozen mixed chopped veg isn’t that exciting but a good standby.
  • Be inventive, plan what you will have for the week before you go shopping and try to make sure they can be used each day such as ham, bacon and vegetables. If in doubt, anything goes in a paella or pasta dish!
  • Choose items with a long shelf life such as chorizo, halloumi, bacon, eggs, sundried tomatoes, pesto, hard cheese, etc. You will find they keep in the fridge for quite some time. Also pasta, spices, dried breadcrumbs and lentils keep well in a cupboard.
  • Instead of buying skinless chicken breasts which are really pricey, buy a whole chicken and joint it yourself. It is so easy but if you are not sure how there are lots of videos online. Then freeze into sensible portions and you can use them as you need. Also get into the habit of freezing fish fillets and sausages individually ana defrost as and when to save waste.
  • Make stock from a leftover roast and freeze. And freeze any leftover chicken as you will find you don’t need much for a meal such as a stir fry.
  • Batch cook and freeze portions – curries, stews, soups, tagines, Bolognese sauce, burgers – practically anything can be frozen! Then just microwave! It makes no difference in my opinion to flavour if used within a couple of months.
  • Choose cheaper alternatives such as turkey instead of chicken, grana padano instead of parmesan etc.

Calorie savers and general tips on losing weight
  • Put your knife and fork down between each meal and turn off the TV. Avoiding mindless munching and eating more slowly will help make your stomach register when it is full and prevent over eating
  • Stop just under when you feel full and wait a few minutes. You can always eat a bit more if you are not feeling satisfied but chances are by the time you have waited you will realise you do not need any more. Keep any leftovers for the next day, and make sure they are out of sight so you don’t get tempted to a late night nibble.
  • Measure out portions and this includes snacks – for example decant crisps and nuts and put the bag away so you can see clearly how much you are eating.
  • Eating from a smaller plate or a cereal bowl means you are likely to eat a smaller amount.
  • Have some low fat snacks to hand – I like corn cakes – they are so filling just 1 or 2 usually does the trick and only 25 cals each! You can add a bit of hummus or cream cheese to liven them up but just have the merest spread.
  • Low cal cooking sprays are excellent for roasts and you only need one spray to fry an egg!
  • Ready-made sandwiches are a bit of a minefield – they can be really surprisingly high in calories. Make your own sandwiches – Warbutons White Square Wraps are only 159 cals each and again, seem to be really filling. Add healthy things like sliced turkey with salad, tuna and sweetcorn, hummus, grated carrot and rocket – the possibilities are endless. As sandwiches can be a bit boring and uninspiring I might write a post later on all my fave combos.
  • Keep the skin on vegetables for extra fibre and nutrients.
  •  Use light Philly instead of cream or cheese in pasta sauces. Just a tablespoon is enough, and add pasta water to make it loose and creamy.
  • Add chillies to bump up flavour.
  • Grill food instead of frying. Or start things of in a shallow pan with a tsp of oil and then finish cooking in oven
  • When stir frying add a splash of water from kettle if things start to stick

General cooking tips I have learnt along the way:

  • Always season onions and mushrooms as soon as you start frying – it helps release the natural juices and caramelisation
  • Add soy sauce or stock cubes to mince dishes for added richness
  • Cut any meat across the grain for max tenderness
  • Always, always leave meat and fish to rest
  • Bring meat to room temperature before cooking
  • When roasting a chicken place on top of thick sliced rounds of red onion. It will go soft and sticky during roasting and make the most amazing gravy

Storecupboard essentials

I always have a supply of these items – they tend to get me out of a hole when it comes to boosting up the flavour or making something out of nothing!

Salt and pepper
Sweet chilli sauce
Kikkoman Naturally brewed soy sauce
Dijon mustard
Lea and Perrins
Oxo beef and chicken stock cubes
Curry powder (although my spice cupboard is admittedly huge and mostly out of date!)
Chilli flakes
Dried mixed herbs
Tin tomatoes
Green lentils
Cous cous
Basmati rice
Risotto rice
Cans of beans – kidney, cannellini, chickpeas etc

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