The Fit Foodie: Making the most of your food shop

This week I’m sharing my top tips for an efficient shop. The tricks I use help to keep it as cost effective as possible and to make eating well for the rest of the week child’s play.

Recipe-wise, it’s my chicken enchilada courgettes and a quick-and-colourful couscous dish.

Love it or hate it, the weekly food shop is part of most of our routines. 

I aim for one big restock at the weekend plus a few top-ups during the week for essentials.

Before you shop:

  • Make a rough plan of what you will eat during the week. If your routine allows sticking to a meal plan can be a great way to save money. Check the cupboards to see what food you already have, and what you need to buy.
  • Make a shopping list based on the ingredients for each meal — that way you’re more likely to stick to it and avoid filling your trolley with things you don’t need.
  • Try online food shopping. It leaves you 100% in control of what goes into your basket and can be delivered to your door when it suits. (This was a lifesaver for me when I was a new mum.)
  • Have a healthy snack before you head out to ensure that your head does the shopping and not your stomach.

While you are there:

  • Shopping with your little ones can make sticking to your budget difficult. Try to pick up a healthy snack at the start of the trip to avoid them pressuring you into buying treats. My toddler works her way through a punnet of berries.
  • Avoid the ‘junk’ food aisle, you don’t need the temptation.
  • Read labels and compare products. Look for short ingredients lists, ideally less than five and avoid those with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  • Check use-by dates.

What to buy:

  • Buy fruit and vegetables in season and try to source them locally. They will be cheaper and won’t have travelled thousands of kilometres to get to you.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are equally, if not more, nutritious than fresh.
  • Buy staple foods in bulk, for example, porridge oats.
  • Tinned foods are a cheap addition to any store- cupboard and have a long shelf-life. Beans, lentils, tinned fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna are cheap, tasty and nutritious. I love tinned tomatoes and coconut milk, too. Always look for cans without added salt or other nasties.
  • When it comes to meat, set yourself a budget and try to focus on quality over quantity. Try some veggie options or reduce the amount of meat in a dish by bulking it out with vegetables, beans or lentils. This is cost-effective, healthier and better for the environment too.
  • Shop around. I love going to the butchers, fishmongers and farmer’s markets. Time well spent.

After you shop:

  • Make things from scratch. I make my own protein bars and energy bites in bulk at the start of the week, which means I don’t have to spend money on expensive ones.
  • Be clever and use garlic and spices as a cheap way to transform ‘boring’ vegetables into delicious flavoursome dishes.
  • Keep it simple. The majority of things I eat on a day-to-day basis cost little but make me feel amazing. Don’t feel that you always have to make something fancy as that can take more time and end up costing more.

Fitspiration

This week my fitspiration is a good buddy of mine, Graham Donovan. A Cork-based professional chef, he helps me all the time with recipe development and testing. He’s always trying to find new ways to use ingredients and healthy ways to cook. He is just new to Instagram so why not follow him on graham.donovan.

Stuffed Courgettes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1tbsp tomato puree

1 red pepper, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

3 free-range chicken breasts, cooked and roughly chopped

2tbsp jalapeno peppers, chopped

1 bunch of scallions, chopped

1tbsp fajita spice seasoning

4 courgettes, cut in half and hollowed out with teaspoon

200g cheddar cheese, grated

100g parmesan, grated

Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 180C.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onions and fry until soft.

Add the tomato paste, peppers and garlic to the pan and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Next, add the chicken, jalapenos and fajita seasoning and mix well together.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the 8 courgette halves in a lightly greased ovenproof dish and fill with the mixture from the pan.

Top with the cheddar and parmesan cheese, cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Sprinkle the fresh coriander on top.

These stuffed courgette boats are best eaten immediately.

Quick and Colourful Couscous Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 6- 8

200g couscous

750ml boiling vegetable stock

2tsp turmeric

1tsp cumin

1tsp dried coriander

¼tsp cayenne pepper

1 small red onion, finely diced

½ red pepper, finely diced

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Place couscous in a large heat proof bowl.

Add the spices to the stock and pour the mixture over the couscous

Lightly mix with a fork, cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes approximately.

If the couscous hasn’t absorbed the water or still tastes crunchy after this time, cover and let it sit for a few more minutes.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork and mix through the onion, pepper, lime juice and olive oil.

Stir to combine everything.

Season to taste with salt and pepper

Serve warm or allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.



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