Cook, stretch and dance: time-saving tips when life is ultra busy

At the moment I have a major looming deadline for a non-fiction book so managing time is crucial.  I’m not cooking as much, and I’m taking lots of short cuts, but I do still cook. And I do still go to my classes at the gym as these clear my head.

I’m always keen to hear how every body else saves time. Here’s what works for me: 

Natural energy zones     I’ve worked out when I am at my natural best (and least rubbish) in all aspects of my life. I’m at my most productive in the afternoons; I am at my most reflective in the mornings. Anything I don’t like doing (like self -employed accounts and home admin) I tackle in small chunks of time in between my time zones, between reflective and productive, or productive and physically active.

A delivery service for groceries    I have to confess here to a major luxury in the form of a boutique, exclusive delivery service: Greek parents. (If they’re unwell or away I order some things online.)

Local shops all over the city  

Foodie finds from continental grocery stores around London
Foodie finds from continental grocery stores around London

Wherever I am I keep an eye out for continental grocers because they have the best fruit and vegetables and lots of other interesting products from nuts to herbs.  I love delis too.

Bargain food shopping is a game    What’s at Lidl?

An active wardrobe     If I had to change to go from work mode to any of my classes (yoga, Pilates dance) I would be lazy and skip half the classes. As I work mostly from home I dress first thing according to the class I’m going to later.  If I have meetings or am lecturing or running workshops I dress so that I can easily and quickly adapt later in the day: a top that works for yoga, a skirt that doesn’t restrict my legs at tango, a dress that’s light for Greek dancing. My day footwear has to be made for walking too. I’m too slow making decisions in the mornings so I lay out whatever I’m going to wear the night before when I’m listening to late night news.

Cooking tactics when really pushed for time   

Root vegetable purée from the freezer gets turned into iced summer soup
Root vegetable purée from the freezer gets turned into iced summer soup

Over the years I worked out a system for super busy periods. If I prepare just one simple, basic quick thing a day in large quantities I can customise and create dishes spontaneously. I freeze a little of what I cook so that during super-stressed periods I can easily pull out jars and tubs.  Note I don’t use the word ‘cook’. By prepare I mean anything from cook to microwave via blanch, steam, grill, blitz and mix. So I end up with a week that looks like brown rice, steamed kale, poached chicken with vegetables, steamed broccoli, salmon ceviche, whole wheat pasta.

To every spontaneous meal I add:

Something new and fresh like extra vegetables and herbs

Good protein (e.g. smoked salmon, tofu, tinned sardines, deli chicken, feta or halloumi cheese, Greek yogurt)

Seeds, nuts

Flavour (e.g. herbs, olive oil, lemon juice)

Mindfulness

For me mindfulness is making sunshine salad  every day.

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