If your lifestyle means you’re always rushing around then poor food choices may severely affect performance, as Eleanor Jones explains

Does the following scenario sound familiar? You get home from work or school and have only 15 minutes or so before you need to leave for training. Yes?

Eating on the go is the norm for many of us and, if you’re not prepared, it’s easy to make poor food choices and sabotage your diet.

Tips for quick and easy food for athletes

» Don’t be fancy

» Use time-saver options such as ready meals, microwaves or frozen goods

» Try to plan in advance

Plain and simple

If you’re eating in a hurry then don’t try and cook a masterpiece – it’s not the time or place for finicky gastronomic delights. Know what you need to eat and get on with it. Trying to cook something with five spices, three pans and 17 ingredients can be a recipe for disaster.

Simple ideas

» Beans on toast

» Poached eggs on toast

Freeze a loaf and toast what you need as required to reduce wastage. Beans can be heated in a microwave for those focused on endurance or poach eggs in boiling water (about 2-3min) for a high-protein option.

Quick versions

Many supermarkets stock convenience foods – items that are prepared or cooked in advance for you. They usually cost more than preparing your own from scratch, but if you know that you’ll need them once a week, add them to the shopping list.

For a quicker stir-fry, use a pack of ready-prepared vegetables (about 3-5min to cook with zero preparation time), add ready-cooked noodles for three minutes, if you’re an endurance athlete. Choose fish or seafood as they cook quicker than chicken.

Desperate measures

Ready meals are an option – but you can also make your own by simply cooking in bulk so you have a meal ready to heat up on your time-limited night.

Make sure you check the label for fat, sugar, protein and salt content though as many are alarmingly high in one or all of these ingredients.

Meal ideas

» Pitta bread pizza
Add tomato ketchup and tomato purée on top of the pitta and mix. Garnish with Italian seasoning. Add grated cheese, ham, pepper, sweetcorn or other toppings and grill. This takes less than 10 minutes.

» Omelette
Beat 2-3 eggs together and season. Add vegetables, meat or both to the pan to soften. Cook eggs around them. Grate cheese on top and serve with a side salad.

» Chicken salad
Use a ready bag of salad. Add leftover roast chicken from Sunday lunch, additional vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, avocado, onion). Serve.

» Eleanor Jones is senior sport scientist at the University of Birmingham and a BASES-accredited sport scientist with an IOC diploma in sports nutrition