MEAL PREP: READY TO EAT
You may have seen the meal prep phenomenon taking social media by storm. Rows of containers filled with healthy meals line kitchen benches ready for the week ahead. Planning what you eat in advance is a useful tool to help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals, save money and most importantly, save time when life gets busy.
But does it mean you have to eat the same old meal of chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli day after day? Absolutely not! Meal planning doesn’t mean regimented, boring meals. It’s simply a way to help keep decisions to a minimum, which means you’re less likely to rely on takeaway or fast food when you’re pressed for time. Here’s how to get started.
Write a plan
As the saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Start by writing down what you will have for dinner for the next few days, week or fortnight. Then work out if you can make any of the meals in bulk to freeze for the next week, or if you can cook extra to have for lunch the next day.
Keep it interesting
You don’t have to eat the same thing every single day (unless you want to), but it can help if you have a theme for each night. For example, Monday: meat free, Tuesday: fish, Wednesday: mince, Thursday: eggs, Friday: homemade, healthy pizzas or burgers. Or maybe go with country themes, such as Italian, Mexican and Thai – variety is key!
Find a balance
Focus on preparing meal components, rather than a full meal. For example:
Carbs – roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, steamed brown rice or quinoa, cooked pasta;
Protein – shredded roast chicken, lean beef strips, grilled salmon fillets, boiled eggs;
Vegetables – chopped salad, steamed vegetables, canned beans and lentils.
Stock your pantry
It’s amazing what you can throw together at the last minute with what’s in your pantry. Stock up on microwavable rice, baked beans, canned tuna, dried pasta and pasta sauces for a last-minute healthy meal.
Brooke Longfield Healthy Food Guide’s Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Exercise Physiologist, BSc (Nutrition) (Hons), BAppSc (Ex&SpSc)