Whilst I had my head in the books I became alot more aware of how I spent my time and realised that despite not being a great cook I do spend a hell of a lot of time cooking (and eating!!). In the main this is because I like to be able to eat really healthily and the best way to do this is to cook your food from scratch rather than using pre-prepared sauces or ready meals. However if you're doing this for three meals a day it does take up a fair portion of your evening.
So whilst in study mode a few things had to change, firstly I did end up buying a few more lunches than I would usually do, for sheer convenience. Secondly I limited myself to dinners I could cook in 10 minutes and finally I initiated some batch cooking.
Batch cooking may sound like something from a 1950s housewife's manual, but infact it's a strategy that anyone who doesn't have lots of time on their hands (and who does!) should adopt. I'm very late to the game, but always happy to learn new tricks. This one requires some discipline (I have a tendency to cook a double portion and then eat it all) but in the long-run can save you alot of time and money
The principal is that you make up larger amounts of whatever you want to eat and then freeze individual portions what you don't need so that you can defrost and reheat for a dinner another day. This can be anything from homemade soups, stews, curries or even breakfast foods. This generally works best for meals with proteins and veggies but without starchy carbs, so bean stews, chicken or seafood curries, ratatouille, tomato based pasta sauces - all freeze well and you can quickly cook some rice or new potatoes to go with them whilst you defrost them.
Here are a few recipe ideas for healthy dinners you can freeze:
But I have to admit I didn't much use my freezer - partly because I only have one small drawer that's pretty full already! For me batch cooking mainly involved making a double portion of dinner and taking it to work the next day as lunch - which did get a bit repetitive and I generally like to eat different foods everyday.
One meal I did really enjoy though was breakfast for which I made up a big quantity of muesli in advance to keep at work as an easy breakfast. I also started making batches of breakfast breads (pumpkin bread, banana bread, carrot bread), cutting them into generous slices, freezing them and then leaving them out to defrost overnight to take to work for my breakfast. These were delicious and filling (fyi I have a protein shake at home before I leave for work to make sure I'm also having some protein with my breakfast).
This is the kind diet pumpkin breakfast bread I made, I halve the recipe, which then uses one can of pumpkin, and used agave syrup instead of maple sugar as I didn't have any, and gluten-free flour:
I also made up and froze the Leon vegan carrot cake from their brilliant Leon: Baking & Puddings. Book 3 but added some extra nuts to the recipe.