Most days start with a walk in my local woods, enjoying the wildlife, the fresh air and the solitude.

There are always loads of lovely birds around, and often I find myself surrounded (in a non-threatening way) by squirrels, which got me thinking….

We all know that squirrels gather nuts and store them safely for when times are hard or food is scarce.

What if we did the same, building up a stash of healthy food ready for when we need it?

Those times when we’re so tired we can’t think what to have for dinner, so instead default “to let’s order a takeaway”?

Or when the faff of preparing something then being faced with the washing up just feels a step too far?

Or when we’ve been so busy with other life stuff that the fridge is empty except for half a jar of capers and a soggy cucumber?

A lack of time, mojo or brainspace can all lead us to call on the services of Dial-a-Dinner, and on occasion, that’s no bad thing at all.

The problem arises when we are faced with prolonged periods of stress, extended work hours or the continual deprioritisation of our self-care. Frequent reliance on takeaway foods, which tend to be high in salt, high in fat, high in calories and not great on nutritional content can cause lethargy, weight gain and a real drain on the bank balance – just at the times when we need our diet to support our wellbeing and performance rather than drag us further down.

The solution? Be more squirrel.

Plan ahead for the challenging times: the end of term, the full-on projects, the house move, covering for colleagues, additional caring responsibilities…

While you’re still in the zone for cooking healthy meals, you could:

  • double up and freeze portions for when you need them; think chilli, curry, stew, pasta sauces, lasagne.
  • buy in some ready-made freezer staples: stir-fry veg, fish fingers (yum), a couple of pizzas (you can always add salad if you have some), a few decent ready-meals to have with frozen peas and broccoli
  • have store-cupboard items in stock so you can assemble something nutritious and lovely in the time it takes to wait for Deliveroo: wholewheat pasta, tinned tomatoes with garlic and herbs, tinned tuna and a few tins of beans – done!

This way, you can still enjoy the takeaways every so often, but they stay as more of a treat rather than being your default dinner.

Meanwhile you’ll be supporting your immune system, maintaining your energy levels, keeping your weight where you want it and saving your cash for something more fun.

Tufty would be very proud.