As part of moving back home and finally having a home of our own – I’m making an effort to eat better. Towards the end in London I was often too tired to cook once I finally got home from work – and not to mention going to the gym. Getting promoted last summer meant often not coming home until after 8pm, and then I was supposed to make something to eat as well as getting the energy up to go to the gym, work out for an hour, come home, and shower? I don’t think so. More often than not I’d end up with something like cheese on toast or cereal, and I think I went to the gym maybe once between October and March.
Before we got married I was quite good – went to the gym at least three times a week and at least made some food plans in advance with S. But when the wedding was over and I didn’t have that wedding-dress-motivator I just lost it. So if S and I didn’t plan what we were going to eat the day before, we were both too tired to go food shopping when we got home in the evening. Hence the toast and cereal.
Having been home for almost four months now (how did it go so fast!) I’ve been pretty good with my food. Almost always bringing a packed lunch for work and cooking enough for leftovers to have both for lunch and dinner. But lately I’ve been starting to slip back a little to not having the evening’s food planned in advance, and where I go to the gym after work on most Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (yes, I know, I’m really trying to be good with that) I again end up not having the energy and inspiration needed to cook something nice.
So here goes my new effort! I’ve made a meal plan for the week, after browsing through BBC Good Food and ICA for inspiration, and am planning on making that a regular habit from now on.
The first meal on my plan is a slightly adapted chicken and new potato traybake. I think the word ‘traybake’ is a bit misleading here though – because it makes me think of all the goodies they make in the traybake episodes of The Great British Bake Off! Though this was a nice enough meal, it was nowhere near as nice as a gooey brownie or a fruity/berry/lemony delight. (Yes, I’m a dessert person!)
Ingredients (4 portions)
600 g new potatoes
4 chicken thighs
6 cloves of garlic
8 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
Start by quartering your lemon and, if you want to, gently crushing your garlic (but no need to peel it now). Then throw in the lemon, garlic, potatoes and bay leaves in a big tray. (As you can see mine is a bit too small.) Douse in olive oil and toss around a bit so the potatoes are all covered by oil.
Add the chicken thighs and cook at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for about 1 hour – or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken cooked through. If you’re using chicken with skin, leave the tray in the oven for an extra 15 min to make sure the skin is crisp.
Peel the garlic and mash it up into the meat juices.
Serve the chicken, potatoes, lemon and garlic (you can discard the bay leaves – they’re not very nice to eat) with some salad or maybe a nice yogurt or crème fraîche based dip.
I got 12 medium-ish sized new potatoes, but if I do this again I’d make it 16. The original recipe calls for 500g potatoes, but I had almost 600g and that didn’t quite feel like enough. It may be because my potatoes were big enough that I only got three per serving, but I don’t think 500g would have been enough.
I also got chicken thigh fillets, because I don’t like thighs with bones in them. However, the largest pack of chicken in my shop only had three fillets in it (though they were very big). I therefore cut them up into smaller pieces, but that was a mistake. The chicken turned out a little dry because it was in smaller pieces, so if I’d cook this again I’d make the effort to get four fillets.
The original recipe also calls for olives, but I don’t like olives so I skipped them. They’d probably go well with the lemon and bay leaf if you do like them though.
All in all I’d give this meal 3 of 5 stars. It’s nice, but not wow. I found it a little bit lacking in flavour despite seasoning with salt and lemon pepper (Google it, it’s really nice), and I don’t think the portion size was anywhere near large enough. The BBC estimates that their recipe equals 323 kcal per portion – mine came to 422 kcal – and that’s not very much for a main meal. If you eat three meals per day and two snacks, your meals (as a woman) should be around 500-600 kcal each. It does make it good for someone doing 5:2 though.
Unless I make some amendments to this recipe I don’t think I’ll make it again. Now I only have to eat three more portions of it this week though!