Top 5 Tips for Meal Planning and Preparation
When you’re busy trying to fit training in with work and family commitments, trying to eat healthily can seem a little tricky – it often seems easier just to grab some take-away to curb your hunger. But eating healthy doesn’t have to be so hard. One of the keys to making healthy eating the easy option is meal planning and preparation. Pre-planning and pre-preparing your meals at the start of the week will help to ensure you have healthy options on hand and will ultimately help to optimise your performance. So, with that in mind, on the final day of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, Accredited Sports Dietitian Peter Herzig shares his top five tips for meal planning and preparation.
- Planning, planning, planning
Have you ever found yourself in the supermarket or fruit and veg shop, racking your brain for what to cook? Looking up recipes to give you some ideas. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but yes you guessed it, planning is the answer. While planning meals may take a little time initially, it can save you a lot in the long run. Planning five main meals for the week will reduce time spent at the shops (see point two for more).
- Have five ‘go to’ recipes.
Most of us can cook a few dishes from memory. Why not improve your repertoire and learn five new dishes. Write down the ingredients, or save them on your phone so that you can quickly check your supplies before heading to the shops. That way you have a quick reference for what to buy. You can always expand this list, or swap recipes out if you need more variety.
- Double up
For those who are time poor, it isn’t necessary to cook every night. By doubling or tripling your recipe ingredients, you can cook and portion out meals to freeze for later in the week. This is also a good option for future lunches. A little extra prep and planning in the short term save’s a lot of time long term.
- Use the oven
Don’t be afraid of using the oven for meal prep. It can be a real time saver. Cut up a whole bunch of veg and throw it in the oven as soon as you get home, set the alarm and go about your other activities. I like to bake sweet potatoes, Roma tomatoes, carrots, a can of chickpeas and zucchini, with a little olive oil and Harissa spice. Served up with some crumbled feta cheese a bunch of baby spinach thrown in.
Two of my favourite utensils for quick meal prep are the cheese grater and vegetable peeler. If you don’t have the knife skills of Jaime Oliver, you can save time with these two. Use the veg peeler for cutting carrot and zucchini into ribbons for salads or stir-fries. Grate salad veg or even sweet potato for a spaghetti bolognese. While you will lose some texture with grating, the benefit is that food cooks much faster and salad veg is prepared much quicker.
Text: Peter Herzig (AccSD, APD)/Centred Nutrition
Feature image: shutter stock.com