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Planning and Preparing Balanced Meals

From our Dietitian Alice Mika, here are some tips for planning and preparing balanced meals!

Planning and Preparing balanced meals

When you’re busy at work or can’t find time at home between meetings, the thought of planning and preparing meals can be overwhelming, let alone thinking of something nutritionally balanced. There are a few things you can do to make it easier to ensure that you’re making nutritious choices. 

Split your plate 

Aim for ½ of your plate to be vegetables, ¼ to be low GI carbohydrate (eg. rice, wholemeal pasta, bread or potato) and ¼ to be lean protein (trimmed meat, seafood, beans, tofu or eggs). It should look something like this: 

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This strategy also works when ordering takeaway or eating out – you may need to order a side of salad or veggies! 

Choose a cuisine

When struggling for inspiration, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. Sometimes choosing a cuisine can help make decisions easier. 

For example, choose Mexican cuisine, and then build a plate using the above structure. This could be a burrito bowl with cilantro lime rice/quinoa (carb), grilled chicken or bean mix (protein), and fajita vegetables/corn, lettuce, tomato, and avocado for vegetables. Check out Healthy Food Guide for this full recipe!

Have a think about how you could achieve this with other cuisines. 

Reduce preparation time 

If you feel that the preparation of ingredients for meals is one of your big barriers to eating healthy or cooking at home, work to reduce these barriers. 

Sometimes, buying pre-cut or frozen vegetables to add to your meals is the easiest way to ensure that you’re including them regularly. 

Other examples of this may include:

    • Buying salad mix instead of individual ingredients
    • Buying pre-cooked chicken or other meat to have in salads/rolls meals 
    • Freezing extra sauce/stock to use instead of making from scratch 
    • Choosing premade sauces – opt for reduced salt/sugar
    • Stocking up on tins of beans/tuna/lentils to add to pasta sauces or soups for an extra protein top up 

These options are often no more or less nutritious than using and cutting up fresh ingredients, and at the end of the day – if it makes the difference between including vegetables and protein into your diet or not, it is going to be a positive change regardless. 

If you would like to make an appointment with Alice, please call (03) 9534 0611 to book in!

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