This post comes directly from that deep dark feeling in your stomach – also known as: The Sunday Fear.
The gloom of a full working week ahead of you. The early starts. The late nights. The lack of vitamin D. The limited free time. That miniature depression feeling, you know?
I started to realise my anxieties didn’t come from my actual job, but the lack of preparation for lunches and evening meals during my working week. I really enjoy cooking and eating, and I also enjoy having dinner before 8pm. Anybody that has a normal full-time job, a 1 hour commute, and an uncomfortable guilt to go to the gym 2 or 3 nights a week, will know that’s a bit of a logistical struggle.
As such, I now dedicate a few relaxing hours of my Sunday to food preparation for the following week. And no, that doesn’t mean I pack up 5 empty Chinese boxes with plain dry chicken breast, soggy broccoli and unseasoned brown rice. I plan and prepare nutritious and delicious lunches and hearty and (generally) healthy dinners for 4 or 5 nights, that can make any colleague a little jel.
I’ve almost nailed all aspects of my food prep, and have turned what could be a super boring weekly routine into a really enjoyable few hours, and I hope I can inspire you to do the same!
This post is going to focus on my lunch preparation, as I’ll talk in more depth about my evening food prep in more detail another time 😉
As we are well and truly into the chilly Christmas season, a yummy nutritious soup will keep you happy and full until dinner time. I sometimes make two smaller batches of different flavoured soups and alternate – depending on how demanding my taste buds are feeling. Here are 5 of my favourite soup recipes that I batch cook for the week ahead for a healthy, cost-effective lunch:
The classic roasted veggie soup
This recipe was devised by yours truly. I really have this one nailed now, but often get a bit sick of it because it’s my go-to because it’s SO easy to make.
I basically go into the shop and grab whatever I fancy veg-wise. Yes, it’s as simple as that. Typically, I’d go for:
1 large sweet potato
1 butternut squash
1 red pepper
1 pack of tomatoes
1 head of broccoli
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
some fresh herbs (I usually go for rosemary or thyme)
You really can throw in whatever you have available, but I find these ingredients create a sweet and indulgent flavour and texture. I also find that buying organic makes it taste EVEN better.
Chop everything except the broccoli into small cubes, make sure the butternut squash is chopped a little smaller than the other bits, and then throw it all into a roasting dish. Keep the garlic cloves whole, but peeled. Slow roast with a drizzle of oil (rapeseed is THE ONE) and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper for an hour on around 180 degrees or until everything is cooked and it’s got that slightly charred look to it.
Once the veggies are almost done, chop up the broccoli and cook in a pan of fresh water for 10 minutes. This is going to be your stock. Once the broc is soft, pour all your veggies into a big bowl with your broccoli and the boiled water. Blitz until smooth. Add more water to make it as thin as you like. Finally, season to taste.
Enjoyed best with a big slice of sourdough.
Roasted cauliflower and coconut soup
The next recipe comes from my main cooking man, Jamie Oliver. And this is for when I’m feeling like an indulgent and creamy soup:
What I love most about this recipe is how it tastes like a soup you’d get in a restaurant that has taken hours to cook, but most of the ingredients are stuff I’ve got in my cupboard so it’s super cheap and it literally takes 30 minutes…
I don’t love the texture of mushy cauliflower so, if you’re the same, make sure you give this a good old blitz.
When I was at University my housemates and I played ‘come dine with me’. Unexpectedly, one of the guys taking part told us his starter was going to be watercress soup. I was disappointed. I visualised watery soup with floating green bits. I was so wrong, it was one of the most deliciously peppery soups I’d ever eaten, and to this day I love it. Delia’s recipe is great, but add more pepper than she states – and make sure it’s freshly cracked black pepper! Mmmm…
I feel that I’ve got into a bit of a habit of telling stories about why I’ve chosen particular soups. How sad is my life? And more importantly, you must be bored to still be reading!
It’s the last one… I promise!
I found this soup recipe when I was determined to have a ‘packet/tin/pot/packet-free’ Christmas dinner. Mum usually buys the large plastic tubs of premade tomato soup as our Christmas dinner starter.
This creamy tomato soup from River Cottage is the one I went for for that Christmas day, and it’s the only one I’ve made since. I LOVE it. It’s deliciously creamy because of the cashew nuts, and it’s ultimately really healthy. I find the choice of tomatoes is key to this recipe. Buy cheap tomatoes, and you’ll get cheap tasting soup. Buy yummy organic tomatoes, and you’ll get the tastiest tommy soup in da world.