How To Still Eat Healthily If You've Had To Move Back In With Your Parents
The Debrief: No I don't need 'feeding up' thanks mum
After three years (or four if you’re an excellent human being like me) at university, chances are you’ve managed to substantially step up your culinary game from the bog standard pasta and pesto thing. Perhaps you’ve overhauled your diet altogether – turning veggie, vegan or even becoming a bin-bothering freegan?
You’ve had control over your budget as well as your menu, so what happens when you move back home and find yourself confronted with your family’s convenience-heavy eating habits and Texas BBQ Pringles aplenty? Here are some tips to help you stay salubrious and sane.
Come shop with me
Scrawling ‘salad stuff pls’on your parents’ shopping list probably isn’t the most effective way of getting your five-a-day. Conversely, heading out to the shops together is a win-win: you’ll know what meals they’re planning for the week ahead and, in turn, they’re getting a hand to help lug it all home.
And, of course, you can whack some healthy accompaniments/alternatives in the trolley, too. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
Just don’t get too nostalgic and eat stuff before you get to the checkout; it’s not so legit once you’re over 10.
Know thy enemy
While heading to the shops or even offering to do an online order can be a great idea, beware of gastronomic Trojan horses arriving during the course of the week. My mum is a fan of the starving-at-6pm shop, for example, and often visits the supermarket after work in search of reduced items.
Knowing this, I pre-empt her questionable shopping choices, from Lidl’s outrageously cheesy macaroni to Sainsbury’s cream slices, haemorrhaging jam and suffocated by a fondant so thick that it could probably be used to tarmac roads.
Having identified my nemeses, I can avoid gorging on them for the sake of it. Plus, almond butter and mashed raspberries on a pumpkin seed Ryvita is a much better breakfast than off-brand Coco Pops, right?
Keep it simple
Do you spend hours scrolling through Instagram, staring at fresh fruit ice creams in mason jars and peanut butter oatmeal and wishing you too had a lifetime’s supply of chia seeds? Perhaps you lie awake at night wondering whether a Nutribullet would be the cure-all to your newly acquired vitamin deficiencies.
Unfortunately, living back at home is a bizarre limbo between being an overgrown sixth former and an actual person, where your mum expects you to share your iPhone location at 3am, and a key part of this awkward dance is sharing fridge space, utensils and worktops.
You might not be able to go full Nigella in a kitchen that various family members are trying to use all at once, so if you’re whipping up a meal for one then keep things simple and wholesome, and adapt recipes if they’re overly complicated.
Also consider the pros and cons of splurging on gadgets, especially if, like me, you’ve already got 15 blenders gathering dust.
...And embrace some shortcuts
The thought of microwaving salmon initially perturbed me. Wouldn’t it just dry up, or get nuked to a slimy, unrecognisable pulp? I also had my reservations about steam bags of vegetables and instant rice, which at nearly £2 a pack are surely one of the most expensive ways to get your grains.
Thankfully, I gave all three a go, and they make an excellent trio of standby staples. Salmon fillet that’s been steamed in the microwave still has all the omega-3 goodness of an oven-cooked one (here’s a recipe), and it’ll be ready to eat in seconds. Just add Netflix and you’ve got a weeknight win.
Curb your restaurant enthusiasm
Whether you’ve returned from a small town to the big city or vice versa, you’ve probably got some local favourites you’re keen to get reacquainted with. Sadly, my definition of ‘local favourites’ has been known to extend to practically every branch of Pizza Express and Wahaca within a 10-mile radius of home.
Then there are takeaways – gorgeous, cardamom-infused, saffron-scented boxes of joy that signal the start of the weekend. Eating out and ordering in are arguably two of the best things ever invented, but don’t forget that – like charity – nutrition begins at home.
Weaning yourself off dough balls also means you’ll have a few more pennies for all the stuff you really want, from this summer’s shimmering bronze eyeshadows to new garms.
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Picture: Maggy Van Eijk
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