BEAT THE DINNER DILEMMA
ORGANISATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS AND HEALTHY MEAL PLANNING IS NO EXCEPTION. IT’S OFTEN DINNER WHERE OUR GOOD INTENTIONS BECOME UNSTUCK, SO HERE’S HOW TO SHOP SMARTER
It’s 5pm and you’ve just walked through the door. There’s the kids’ homework to do, washing to put on and, oh, it’s probably the first chance you’ve had all day to think about dinner. You open the fridge for inspiration but all that jumps out at you is a wilted lettuce and limp carrot. Time to pull out the frozen pizza or call for a takeaway. Sound familiar? If you find yourself on this Ferris wheel of disorganisation at meal times, get yourself into gear with smart meal planning.
HAVE A HEALTHY RECIPE BANK
By reading healthy recipe books and following blogs and websites for inspiration, you will bank up a pile of ideas for your meal plans. This is the fun part. Search for recipes that take about 15-20 minutes to prepare and cook. Winter is a great time to try slow-cooker recipes that allow you to walk into the house to the magical aroma of a hot, nutritious meal. Print your bank of recipes and save the challenging ones for the weekend when you have more time.
GET SMART WITH YOUR SHOPPING LIST
The next step is to create shopping lists from your meal plans, but keep in mind we are talking healthy. Keep this list handy so you can jot down items that run low during the week. It’s this conscious way of thinking that makes you feel in control of the incomings and outgoings of your kitchen (and less inclined to impulse-buy junk).
There are also many meal-planning apps that can do the job for you. Aim to keep your meals as fresh as possible and resist sauces, breadcrumbed meats and processed meals. You want to stay as close to nature as food can be. Here’s a guide to get you started with healthy grocery basics for your weekly shopping list: Complex carbohydrates: Brown rice (the 90second microwave sachets are a godsend), wholewheat pasta, rice noodles, couscous, quinoa, sweet potato/potato to make homemade chips, wholewheat buns for healthy burgers or wraps. Salad staples: We’re talking in-season vegetables that you can whip up into a salad, use for a stir-fry or turn into a delicious bake. Don’t forget to load up on frozen vegetables as well — these are your best friend when it comes to dinners on the run and may be more nutritious than fresh vegetables as they are snap frozen immediately after picking. Add some cheese for variety, or fruit to a salad to bump up your nutrition if your day’s intake has been a little ho-hum.
Protein: Limit red meat to twice a week and try to alternate different sources so you’re not having one particular meat in succession. Look for low-fat cuts of lamb, pork, beef, kangaroo, chicken and turkey, plus a variety of fish. Try to include a vegetarian meal once a week using legumes or eggs, or make a vegetable soup and serve it with crusty wholegrain bread.