A lot of people ask me when I have the time to cook and prepare blog posts. I plan a week ahead at the weekend for the following weeks blog posts and daily updates. Hootsuite means that I can schedule ahead all my social media and I also schedule my new blog posts. The photography part is difficult but if I have made leftovers I photograph the dish the next day with better light before popping them in the freezer or packing up for lunch. But the key to me being able to cook lots of delicious food is through a weekly meal plan and a big Saturday shop.
I make a weekly meal plan with a shopping list on Friday and then do the weekly shop on a Saturday so that I have all the ingredients ready at home to cook during the week. I have seen meal plans where people have breakfast, lunch and dinner planned out for every single day of the week. I don’t like that. I like going out for dinner with friends or to decide last minute to pop for a pizza date night with my husband. We both work full time and sometimes those late nights are even later than usual. We cannot plan for that and actually I wouldn’t want my schedule to be focused around my meal plan where I have to turn down afterwork drinks with the girls or colleagues because I have a fridge full of food at home that needs to be cooked.
My weekly plan is simple. First of all I scrap Fridays. I know that most of the time we will want to go out for dinner on a Friday night, it is the weekend after all! For lunch and breakfast I know that there will be plenty of leftovers to make some porridge for breakfast or a quick sandwich or salad for lunch. The weekends are for enjoying long, lazy dinners so this is my time to make dishes that require a little more time. Weekdays are made up of quick and simple meals such as this Chilli, Prawn and Rocket Linguine or a Leek and Spinach Spaghetti Carbonara. I also make sure that I plan to make the dishes made from scratch at the beginning of the week and to keep those leftover meals sitting in the freezer for the end of the week. This means that if I end up going out more than planned I can simply push back the meals I have all the ingredients for in the fridge by a few days. If I planned to make it on Monday I can instead make it Tuesday or Wednesday. The leftover frozen dishes can just stay in the freezer for another week.
It is a fine balance between meal planning and still having a social life but it is perfectly doable and prevents food waste. This Chilli, Prawn and Rocket Linguine is one of my favourite midweek dinners. I usually plan this for a Monday and Tusday so if I end up out on either of these days I can keep the ingredients in the fridge ready to cook later in the week. It is a quick, light and healthy pasta dish and perfect those busy weeks, yet whenever I eat this I start to think of the summer and sitting outside with a bowl of this pasta and a cold glass of white wine. The tomatoes are cooked with plenty of olive oil and garlic and perfect to coat the delicate linguine with. Mix with some prawns and peppery rocket plus the chillies for a little heat and you have a light and delicious meal ready in 15 mins!
- Linguine (enough for 2 people)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
- Handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
- Olive oil
- 2 handfuls of fresh rocket (roughly torn)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 100g prawns (de-frosted if cooking from frozen)
- 1 tbspn tomato puree
- 1 tspn smoked paprika
- 2 red chillies (finely sliced)
- 50ml white wine
- Salt/ Pepper
- Cook the linguine according to packet instructions.
- In the meantime heat a good glug of olive oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook on a medium heat for 3-4 mins until the tomatoes are soft. Then add the tomato puree, paprika, chillies and white wine. Mix well and leave on a gentle simmer for just another 3-4 mins.
- Add the prawns to the pan for just just 30 seconds - 1 min. Then drain the linguine and add to the pan with the rocket. Squeez in some lemon juice and mix well so that the tomatoes coat the pasta. The prawns will continue to cook during this time.
- Take the pan off the heat and add just a drizzle of olive oil and the rocket. Season with salt and pepper and then mix everything together one more time.
- Serve immediately.