I have mentioned before that meal planning has been key to not only losing weight but more generally in making sure I eat healthier food. It is much easier to eat well if you know you have food waiting for you at home. Otherwise the temptation to buy takeaway or dodgy ready meals can be very hard to resist.
Meal planning can be pretty straightforward and need not take an excessive amount of time. Mine takes a little bit longer as I am always trying new recipes to share with you on the blog. But if you aren’t doing this, then you can get in to a fairly good recipe rotation, though I do recommend mixing it up every now and again and trying something new. Variety is the spice of life as they say.
To help with meal planning I have developed a meal planner and documented my steps and tips to meal planning. If you would like a copy, just sign up to my email list and it will magically appear in your inbox – and you can unsubscribe straight away though I would love for you to stick around and cook with me. For those who have already signed up I’ll be shooting an email through to you so you can download the meal planner if you would like to. The meal planner will work for everyone, not just solo cooks. But I do have some tips that are specifically for those cooking just for one.
One tip I didn’t include in my list of tips is getting on board with frozen vegetables. While fresh from the farm is always the best, the chances of this are pretty slim. Even when you go to a farmers market you may well get food that is not 100% fresh. I have written about this before, but frozen veggies are frozen pretty quickly after they are picked and often contain more of those healthy vitamins etc than the sad looking fresh veggies you see in the supermarket.
For me frozen also has the added benefit of longer life. When I buy fresh, if I don’t use it all in that week then it tends to get thrown out (it should probably go on the compost heap but I am not exactly the most coordinated when it comes to that sort of behaviour). And freezing my own is unlikely to happen if I am being realistic about my domestic activities.
Plus with frozen peas, I love how quickly they are ready to use and in dishes like this spaghetti with prosciutto and peas, they make including vegetables a doddle. This recipe is lightly adapted from this recipe by April of Girl Gone Gourmet. I used prosciutto rather than pancetta as I had prosciutto in the house from another recipe I am working on that is not quite ready to share. I also used bucatini instead of spaghetti but they are fairly interchangeable pastas.
I was a little surprised how well this recipe turned out. I normally like my pasta with tomato based sauces or at the very least super cheesy. I have been trying out Cacio e Pepe recipes which does have cheese in it (though not in a gnocchi gorgonzola vein which I love) and have been underwhelmed. I have a couple more to try out but the lack of success made me suspect this one would not be a roaring success. But it is just lovely and not too heavy. The prosciutto adds a flavour pop while not overwhelming the wine and peas. Of course adding butter always helps.
And if you have leftover prosciutto from making this dish have a go at making this pesto and cheese stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto or my tomato, mushroom and prosciutto on toast with goats cheese.
- 60g of spaghetti or bucatini (I had bucatini in the cupboard so used that)
- 25g of proscuitto, chopped into pieces about the size of your smallest finger nail
- 1/8th of a brown onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp of minced garlic (equal to a quarter of a clove)
- 2 tbs of white wine
- 1/4 cup of frozen peas, run under hot water
- 1 tsp of butter
- 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tbs of grated parmesan cheese
- Pop the spaghetti or bucatini in a pot of salted boiling water and cook until nearly done - about 2 minutes less than that suggested on the packet.
- Heat a small skillet on medium heat and add in the proscuitto. Cook the proscuitto until it is just starting to crisp.
- Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan if necessary.
- Add in the peas and cook for a minute or two to reduce the wine slightly. It will happen fairly quickly so keep an eye on it.
- Remove from heat until the spaghetti is ready.
- When the spaghetti is ready, drain and transfer to the skillet.
- Using tongs make sure the spaghetti is well coated with the wine.
- Add the butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper and toss well until all the butter is melted.
- Serve topped with the grated parmesan cheese