Do you ever get home from work and feel too exhausted to cook dinner? We all get like that occasionally. The best tip to combat stressful nights in the kitchen, when all you want to do is curl up on the couch, is to meal prep!
What exactly is meal prep?
Basically, meal prep involves making meals in advance in order to save time and money and to optimise the amount of nutrients that you consume during the week. Another great benefit of meal prep is that it can reduce temptation to consume takeaway or fast food options, which are usually the easiest if you cannot be bothered cooking, let’s face it!
- Pick a day during the week (preferably the weekend as most people find that they have more time compared to during the week) and set aside a couple of hours to prepare some meals. If your working hours are different, this could be best done during the week for you.
- Having some containers ready to go to store a couple of days or even a week’s worth of food can be handy! Freezing food can reduce the stress of ensuring that food is consumed within a couple of days, so if you are unsure whether you will finish all of your batch, freeze it for later.
- Including a meal with lean protein, low GI carbohydrate and vegetables/salad makes your meal the most nutritionally complete and balanced. Providing your body with a balanced meal will assist to fuel your body and brain through a busy day, as well as keep you full for longer and provide you with many essential nutrients.
Protein – Protein is vital for muscle replenishment and maintenance. Either lean meat, reduced fat dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese) or meat free alternatives (legumes, tofu, chickpeas and nuts).
Carbohydrates – The body needs carbohydrates for energy and should not be removed from the diet. Examples include high fibre breads (Multigrain, traditional sourdough, pumpernickel), Low GI rice such (Basmati long grain, wild rice, black and red rice, chia and quinoa rice blends), Low GI pasta (Wheat pasta, vermicelli, soba or rice noodles) or Low GI breakfast cereals (Untoasted muesli, rolled oats, multigrain weetbix). Also keep in mind that the main starchy vegetables such as potato, pumpkin and corn are a carbohydrate food as they raise the bodies blood sugar levels.
Vegetables/Salad – So many nutrients come from these foods. Making nutritious meals a priority in the colder months can reduce the likelihood and severity of colds and symptoms. Aim for a variety of vegetables based on colour variety. Zucchini, capsicum, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber, leafy greens, eggplant, beans etc are great vegetable options, just to name a few.
New blog coming soon with more information on The Glycaemic Index!
Although meal prep is a great idea, there are other ways you can save time in the kitchen and winter has its benefits in this regard. Making a slow cooker meal with lean meat and vegetables in the slow cooker to develop during the day can save time too. These meals are usually very quick to make and taste delicious! Another useful tip is to cook more for dinner to allow for an exciting and delicious lunch the next day.
Slow cook meal ideas:
- Beef/chicken stew or casserole with vegetables
- Chicken and/or vegetable soup
Some meals that freeze well are:
- Stir fry
Quick & easy winter recipe
Pumpkin & Chicken Risotto [Serves 5-6]
- 500g Chicken Tenderloins diced
- 2 cups diced Kent Pumpkin
- 1 Zucchini diced
- 2 cups Arborio Rice
- 1 brown onion diced or 2/3 cup leek
- ¼ cup white wine
- Handful of spinach leaves
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp Garlic infused extra virgin olive 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup shredded light tasty cheese to sprinkle on top
- Preheat the oven to 190C.
- Lightly pan fry chicken tenderloins with 1 tbsp garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.
- Place rice, chicken stock, remaining olive oil, pumpkin, zucchini, chicken, onion/leek, white wine and spinach in an ovenproof dish and stir gently to combine.
- Evenly sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
- Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 30 minutes or until rice is soft. You may find that the dish requires more cooking if it still has some watery residue inside.
- Remove from oven once cooked and let settle for 5-10 minutes.
- Upon serving, season with salt and pepper.
- Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Carbohydrates and Glycaemic Index (GI) [Internet]. c2017: https://www.baker.edu.au/-/media/documents/fact-sheets/baker-institute-factsheet-carbohydrates-and-glycaemic-index.pdf