We all know we should be eating more fruit and veg. If you are not used to eating much, five servings can seem like a daunting target. Want to know how to get your 5-a-day every day? Incorporate these simple habits into your cooking and eating and you will be clocking up your portions in no time…
How to get your 5-a-day: 10 tips
1. Eat fruit with breakfast
We’re often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but that doesn’t mean we can get away with just eating a bowl of sugary cereal. Instead, always aim to have at least one portion of fresh fruit with your breakfast.
You could either eat a banana or apple after your usual dish, or try topping some porridge with berries or melon. Not only will this count towards towards your 5-a-day, but the sweetness of the fruit will also add some extra flavour to your meal!
2. Swap sweet treats for fruit
Another easy way to reach your 5-a-day is to get into the habit of reaching for fruit when you fancy something sweet. Many people get into the habit of munching on biscuits or sweets when they need a sugary pick-me-up in the middle of the morning or afternoon. However, fruit contains natural sugars which will give you the same burst of energy – without any of the processed additives. Fruits are nature’s own sweeties, after all!
For dessert, you can also try swapping ice cream or chocolate for warmed frozen berries with natural yoghurt. Sweet, tasty and one of your 5-a-day!
3. Snack on raw vegetables while making dinner
Plenty of us can’t help snacking while we wait for our dinner to finish cooking. If you find yourself needing something to snack on, why not cut up some extra veg to munch while your cook? Raw peppers, celery, cucumber and carrot sticks are perfect to nibble on – the satiating crunch is sure to satisfy your snacking needs.
4. Eat salads for lunch
Lots of people opt for a sandwich every day at lunch time. While these occasionally contain vegetables or salad, this is usually minimal and won’t help you clock up your fruit & veg portions. Instead, why not try making a hearty salad for lunch – or as a side dish to your usual sandwich or pasta?
Think beyond the usual lettuce and tomato – you can get really creative with salads! And, despite popular belief, they can be incredibly tasty and filling when you actually add a range of different ingredients. Try adding roasted butternut squash, beetroot, asparagus, beans and lentils. All are delicious and hearty additions to salads – and to your 5-a-day! Don’t forget to add a tasty dressing too – lemon juice and olive oil is a great basic combo.
5. Make homemade soup
A great way to instantly up your veg portions is to make your own soup with stock and leftover vegetables. This is also a great way to reduce food waste, as any veggies can be added (even if they’re a bit squishy!). There are dozens of different flavours to try, from pea and mint to classic tomato. Or, just throw in all the vegetables you have and get creative with the herbs and spices!
6. Always serve 2 different vegetables with dinner
Forget that tiny portion of peas in the corner of your plate: for your evening meal, half of your plate should be made up of vegetables. Mix up the flavours by serving at least 2 portions of different vegetables with every evening meal. This could be as simple as adding a large helping of salad leaves to your plate, alongside your peas.
7. Make homemade stews
Like soups, homemade stews also provide the perfect opportunity to use up leftover vegetables and get closer to your 5-a-day target. Some of the best vegetables for hearty stews include mushrooms, leeks, sweet potato, parsnips or peppers. However, you can once again get creative with the flavours here, by trying out different combinations. Stews are also a great way to sneak veggies into your children’s meals!
8. Limit the fruit juice
While it’s true that fruit juice does count as one of your 5-a-day, it’s best not to rely on this as a regular portion. This is because fruit juice is a concentrated form of sugar, which can damage your teeth in the long run. Limit yourself to one small serving (125m) per day and avoid drinking it every day for a long period of time.
9. Add beans and lentils to dishes
Did you know, beans and lentils also count towards your five a day? These hearty ingredients are great for upping your plant-based food intake, as well as your fibre and protein intake. Try adding them to dishes like stews and curries, or even substitute them for meat entirely. They also work well in salads: you can add cooked butter or cannellini beans to your salads straight from the tin!
10. Make your own pasta sauces
Jarred sauces from the supermarket tend to be full of sugar and artificial flavourings. Making your own pasta sauces from scratch will leave you with a healthier, cheaper and often tastier alternative.
Try cooking tinned tomatoes together with other veg, such as peppers or mushrooms, plus some mixed herbs, onion and garlic for a simple vegetable pasta sauce. Lentils and carrots are tasty veggie additions to a Bolognese sauce.