Going back to work and school comes as a shock to the system. Don’t get stressed, get organised – and healthy meals will be one less thing to worry about

IN ALL THE CHAOS of new shoes and uniforms, heightened emotions about little ones growing up (even if those little ones are off to uni!) and getting after-school childcare sorted, it’s very easy to neglect the issue of what to feed everyone (and yourself). After a summer of BBQs, wine and parties, it can all seem too stressful. But don’t let healthy eating slip to the bottom of your agenda in a bid to save time. Here are a few shortcuts to staying healthy, however busy your week.

1 VARY THE BREAKFASTS Mixing it up means you get a lot of different valuable nutrients to help kickstart your day. To avoid the usual time-wasting arguments over who has what, pin the choices on the fridge/planner at the beginning of the week, and let the kids pick one each so everyone’s happy.

2 MAKE A LIST OF LUNCHES and shop for them at the weekend, so everyone has the ingredients for a healthy packed lunch to take to school or work. Use wholegrain bread for sandwiches, include protein, such as egg, cheese, ham or tuna, plus some cucumber and carrot sticks and an apple and yogurt for dessert. Get some more lunchbox ideas here.

3 USE OUR RECIPES SECTION to plan healthy dinners for the week and make a shopping list from the plan. No more arriving home at 6pm searching an empty fridge for inspiration.

4 SHOP MORE ONLINE so you don’t get tempted by all the offers and less healthy foods in store.

5 AVOID THE SUPERMARKET after work and when you’re hungry, whenever possible. Go armed with your list and don’t deviate from it.

6 KEEP VEG STICKS ready sliced in airtight containers in the fridge so there are always quick and easy snacks available for the whole family.

7 TAKE A BAG OF NUTS to work to store in your desk… Nuts are a really healthy snack (but stick to around 3-4 brazil nuts or 10 almonds or hazelnuts to avoid calorie overload). They’re full of protein so they satisfy the mid-afternoon munchies without having to resort to the vending machine.

8 SUPPLY EVERYONE with their own water bottle, which they can top up throughout the day. When we get busy it’s easy to forget to drink but being dehydrated can cause you to feel tired and lose concentration. And make sure you keep a jug or bottle of water on your desk so you can top up morning and afternoon. Aim for six to eight glasses per day.

9 GET THE SLOW COOKER out of the cupboard. It’s a great way to use up leftover ingredients – prepare it before going to bed, then switch it on the next morning and your healthy dinner is ready when you all get home. Pop any leftovers into the freezer for another day, or take them to work for lunch the following day. Try these healthy slow-cook dishes.

10 GO OUTSIDE EVERY DAY for at least 20 minutes (even in the rain). It’s important to expose your skin to light so you can make Vitamin D, plus it’s really good for your mood. A brisk walk around the block at lunchtime… Breathe and relax… You’ll soon be back in the swing of things.

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