Meal planning for a very busy week

by sophie on June 1, 2008 · 14 comments

Post image for Meal planning for a very busy week
For the next two weeks I am going to be commuting from Oxford to London every weekday, a journey that takes about two and a half hours each way when everything goes smoothly and a fair bit longer when something goes awry. While eating healthily is very close to the top of my priority list I also know that exercise makes me feel good and keeps the stresses of the week in perspective and so I still plan to fit in most of my regular exercise classes during the week. This means that on most evenings dinner has to be ready in 15 minutes and there will be limited time for preparation and shopping. Today therefore has been all about meal planning and cooking for the week ahead, and so I have decided to join some of my favourite bloggers in writing about what I plan to eat this week.

First job this morning was a big shop to stock up on healthy foods for snacking on while I’m in London and on the way there and back.  On the list was easily portable fresh fruit, almonds, oatcakes and individual low fat fruit yogurts.

Breakfast will be eaten on the train, speeding through the glorious Oxfordshire and Berkshire countryside.  I’ve made a tray full of Cassie’s breakfast bars, which are bursting with oats, seeds and dried fruit and I’m planning to have this for breakfast on at least three of the days, with yogurt and fruit on the other two for variety.

In the spirit of saving energy as well as time, while I had the oven on for the breakfast bars I roasted some vegetables in olive oil.  The roasted peppers, red onions and half of the butternut squash will be made into a chilli, soy and lemon-dressed brown rice salad for lunch on the first couple of days (with enough for hubbie to have some too). 

The other half of the roasted squash is all cooked and so we’re all set-up to make my butternut squash and red lentil dahl one evening with minimal effort.

We have one batch of utterly delicious leftovers in the form of Kathryn’s one-pot Greek “chicken”, a citrus and oregano scented bean stew that has absolutely nothing to do with chicken at all.  The first dinner of the week is therefore already made, so hopefully I will have time to dash home from the station and straight out to my BodyCombat class.

On the busiest evening we will have ready-made tortellini.  Served with a spicy tomato sauce and a big armful of fresh or frozen spinach, this is ready in no time and provides two portions of vegetable.

My freezer will also come to the rescue on one night, either for a portion of homemade baked beans or for a bowlful of my vegetarian chilli.

When the brown rice salad runs out sometime mid-week all of the necessary ingredients are in to make a packed lunch in five minutes; a variation on this tuna and bean salad recipe.

No doubt there will be piece of cake at some point too, and a glass of red wine.  I’m not planning on eating perfectly, but a little bit of forward
planning should help me to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and
vegetables on each day.  I also know that if I have good stuff with me
I won’t have to hunt around for healthy food while I’m out and about.

There’s another busy week to plan for after this one so I’d love to hear your ideas for healthy suppers that can be ready in 15 minutes or frozen ahead?


kathryn June 2, 2008 at 00:00

What an excellent bit of menu planning
Sophie, sounds like a great food week – despite the busyness. And so glad to hear you enjoyed the Greek chicken.

mel June 2, 2008 at 06:14

While you’re roasting veggies, here’s my tip for freezer food – roasted veg lasagne. One layer spinach and bechamel w/nutmeg, layer of roast root veg (squash, beetroot, parsnip etc) and finish with layer of tomato and mushroom (lasagne sheets betwen each layer). Top with bechamel and cheese for a crispy top. Freezes really well and has oodles of veggies.

Helen June 2, 2008 at 07:59

I’m loving this Sohpie! I’m so curious to know what you eat on a day to day basis. I’m going to take a photo of my lunch today and put it into my post tonight, let’s all find out what we’re eating! Also, I used to commute from Oxford to London every day, so I knwo exactly where you are coming from. Are you just getting the train or will it be the good old Oxford tube as well? I feel like that bus is my second home!

Hippolyra June 2, 2008 at 12:23

Great ideas Sophie.
I keep a tub of mixed beans, sweetcorn and petit pois in my freezer – I rinse tinned beans and free freeze them, then tip them all into a tub and give them a good mix.
With some green salad and dressing it makes a healthy lunch, which takes 3 mins to put together in the morning. The frozen beans defrost all morning and keep the salad chilled and fresh if you do not have a fridge or are on the go.
Its also the perfect base mix for refried beans, get them out in the morning and leave in the fridge to defrost, quickly fry some mixed peppers and spring onion. Wrap in tortilla and top with tomato sauce (frozen in portions – I use my silicone muffin tray) 10 mins in the oven and you have a healthy low GI supper packed with protein.
Always carry a cereal or dried fruit bar. they are not perfect but better than buying chocolate on the train!
I weigh out 5 mini pots of nuts and seeds at the weekend for my snacks for each day, grab and go each morning.

Becky June 2, 2008 at 15:33

Spooky have just committed to around three months of commuting from Bristol to London on a pretty much daily basis so see you at Paddington station bleary eyed. Desperately trying to plan all my meals too will definitely post.

Maninas June 2, 2008 at 17:31

Mushrooms are my ultimate fast food! How about a simple dish of tagliatele with a mushroom, onion and creme fraiche sauce? Yum!

Wendy June 2, 2008 at 21:25

I’m hugely impressed by how organised you are and by your determination to keep exercising despite a very busy schedule. I tend to let my exercising slip when the weeks get crazy and I always feel worse for it.

Sophie June 4, 2008 at 08:25

Thanks Kathryn! The greek chicken was lovely and it made loads – I’m very pleased to report that we have another portion in the freezer ready for next week.
Mel – that lasagne sounds great. I like the idea of having different vegetable layers and I love the way lasagne goes a bit chewy in the freezer!
Helen, I’ll look forward to having a nosey at your lunch. You must be made of stern stuff commuting from Oxford to London every day! I’m just getting the train not the Oxford Tube – I’ve tried the bus in the past but it just takes too long, especially as I have another hour of travelling to get across London once I get there. I’ve treated myself to a mobile broadband modem so that I can bring my laptop on the odd day (I’m posting this from the train now)
Hippolyra – love the idea of the beans and veggies. I wouldn’t have thought of freezing the tinned beans and veggies together so that they are all ready to go. Very healthy!
Hi Becky, I think we should get some sort of food bloggers pin so that we can spot each other stumbling around Paddington first thing in the morning :-) Look forward to reading about your travel plans
Maninas – mushrooms and tagliatelle is an excellent idea, maybe with a bit of grainy mustard or similar. I wonder if it would taste good cold too – that way I could take it for lunch too
Hi Wendy, I try to be pretty strict with myself regarding fitting some exercise in. Much as I want to have a catnap on the sofa when I get home I just know that I’ll feel better if I drag myself out to the gym. I think it helps that I (nearly) always do classes which are on a fixed schedule – you can’t kid yourself that you’re going to go later, honest…

cookinpanda June 5, 2008 at 11:34

I really admire your planning. Despite our lack of time, all of your meals sound great. I should really follow your model of planning, as I will be returning to school next year, commuting about an hour and a half in each direction everyday. If I don’t work out something like this, I’ll be snacking too much on the wrong things and eating (gasp!) fast food.

Cassie June 6, 2008 at 00:38

Wow, Sophie, those are some long days! It really does help to plan ahead for those busy weeks, doesn’t it? And I like that you’ve thought about your exercise and are not forgetting the cake and red wine. :) I hope you’re managing to get a little rest and relaxation in – even if on the train. Sounds like a lovely – albeit long – commute!

Christie @ fig&cherry June 6, 2008 at 02:24

Wow, Sophie – you are so organised! I love it! Can we be friends? ;)
My standby quick dinner or packed lunch option is cous cous with canned tuna, feta, olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes – and lots of lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Always hits the spot!

Christie @ fig&cherry June 6, 2008 at 02:24

Wow, Sophie – you are so organised! I love it! Can we be friends? ;)
My standby quick dinner or packed lunch option is cous cous with canned tuna, feta, olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes – and lots of lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Always hits the spot!

Christie @ fig&cherry June 6, 2008 at 02:24

Wow, Sophie – you are so organised! I love it! Can we be friends? ;)
My standby quick dinner or packed lunch option is cous cous with canned tuna, feta, olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes – and lots of lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Always hits the spot!

Paula June 6, 2008 at 22:36

I don’t envy you that Oxford to London trip, its a killer. Like Maninas a mushroom pasta is my usual quick dinner, along with lashings of garlic, parsley and parmesan. That of pasta tossed with finely diced veggies like tomatos, olives, peppers, lots of herbs and some good olive oil.

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