Watch Jane McClenaghan raid her kitchen cupboards as she shares some hot tips to help you shop, cook and eat more sustainably.
What’s in Season?
Pack your plate with the very best of local, seasonal fruit and vegetables.When we eat food in season, it is a taste sensation, packs a nutritional punch and is so much better for the planet.
Buy local, seasonal food that grows right here, on your doorstep and cut food miles to reduce your carbon footprint. Better for you and the planet! This is the best time of year to eat strawberries, fresh peas and beans and tomatoes.
Here’s what else is in season in July and August:
- Broad beans
- French beans
- Globe artichokes
- Lettuce and other salad leaves
- New potatoes
- Peas and mange tout
- Runner beans
Get organised. Shop smart to eat well!
When it comes to healthy eating, planning is essential.
Work out what you are going to eat over the next 3 or 4 days. That way, you can get yourself organised, work out what you need to buy and have all the ingredients you need.
Your plan for eating well:
- Do your menu planning in the kitchen. Have a look at what food you already have in your larder, fridge and freezer and think about how you can incorporate these foods into tasty, healthy recipes over the next few days. For example, if you have a can of chickpeas and some tinned tomatoes, this could be the basis of a great mid-week curry.
- Only plan 3 or 4 days at a go. That way, you can buy what you need, reduce food waste and not feel overwhelmed at having to plan a whole week’s food at once.
- Cook once, eat twice. Make more than you need so that you have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day, or a portion to pop in the freezer for another time.
- Try new recipes. Instead of the same boring bolognese, why not mix it up a little. Try a new recipe each week. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming - the quick and easy ones are more like to make their way into your weekly recipe repertoire than something that takes lots of time and effort. You can discover lots of seasonal recipes on www.whitesoats.co.uk for inspiration.
- Use your menu planner to make a shopping list. That way you’ll only buy what you need and not overspend on your food budget.
Use by and Best Before
When it comes to reading food labels, there is a lot of information packed onto a small space.
Do you know the difference between use by and best before dates?
Here’s the deal:
Use by dates are all about food safety. A use by date is found on perishable food items like houmous, yoghurt and foods that don’t have a long shelf life. If these foods are stored for too long, or at the wrong temperature, they can go off and may cause food poisoning. You can eat food until the use by date, but not after this.
Best before dates are all about food quality, you’ll find a best before date on foods like your porridge, frozen berries and can of chickpeas for example. These foods are safe to eat after the best before date, but their texture or flavour may not be at its best.
What is a portion size? Are you eating too much or too little? How much is enough?
Although I am not a fan of weighing foods, or calorie counting everything that we eat, there are some simple ways to know if you are getting it right in terms of portion size.
To make sure you are eating a well-balanced plate:
- Divide your dinner plate in half and fill one half with vegetables or salad. The more colour and variety, the better. Eat what’s in season for the best flavour and nutrition.
- Include a palm size portion of protein (eg two eggs, a fillet of fish, a chicken breast, a cupful of pulses, etc.)
- Add a fist-size portion of slow-release, low-GI carbohydrates (e.g. oats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholegrains, new or sweet potato). This section can include root veg as well as wholegrains.
- 1 portion of fruit or vegetables = 80g (about a fist-size portion). Aim for 7 a day. Eat more vegetables than fruit.
- 1 portion of carbohydrate = about the size of your fist - a portion with each meal
- 1 portion protein = about the size of your palm - a portion with each meal
- 1 portion of oils and fats = about a teaspoon - 2 or 3 servings a day
- Dairy products = a small matchbox of cheese, half a cup of live, natural yoghurt or a small glass of milk a day
- Water - aim for 1.5-2 litres a day
Fruit and vegetables
a variety of seasonal fruit and veg
fresh or frozen
aim for 7 portions a day
Eat what’s in season to maximise your nutritional intake
Bread, rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes, cereals and grains.
a fist size portion with each meal
Low GI carbs help to maintain and sustain balanced blood glucose and insulin levels, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. Choose wholegrains and higher fibre versions and avoid the white, refined and sugary stuff
Nuts and seeds
Beans and lentils
Cheese (goats, feta or cottage are best)
Sugar-free nut butters
a palm size portion with each meal
Nuts and seeds
1 portion nuts and seeds = 25g (a small handful)
1 portion olive oil = 1 tablespoon
Avoid margarines, fried foods and processed fats
Store cupboard essentials
Stock your larder with a few carefully chosen essentials to help make food prep and cooking easy and tasty.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Herbs and spices - fresh, frozen or dried
- Nut butters - choose the sugar free ones
- Wholegrains - jumbo oats, wholemeal pasta, brown rice
- Tinned stuff - tined fish, tinned tomatoes, pulses
- Tomato puree
- Frozen berries and vegetables
- Coconut oil and olive oil
- Olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers
- Good quality stock cubes
- Nuts and seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax, chic, almonds, walnuts, brazils, cashews
- Natural yoghurt