Healthy eating for busy people

By Christina Ross – Accredited Practising Dietitian

We know you are busy, so we’ll get straight to the point – here are 5 of the quickest, time-saving, short cuts to keep your healthy eating goals on track.   

Shortcut 1: Invest in your plan  

Many people feel overwhelmed at the thought of planning out their meals for the week (possibly because they feel they need to come up with a new dish for each meal of each day…you don’t!), but an investment of 10 minutes over the weekend to map out your weekly meals will pay dividends in saved time during the week. Simplify your meal plan by trying some of these strategies: 

  • Keep your weekday breakfast meals consistent, or opt for meals you can prepare in advance – overnight oats, frittata or a meal replacement shake are great options here (or if breakfast isn’t for you, why not try 16/8 intermittent fasting?) 
  • Repurpose leftover dinner for weekday lunches, eliminating another meal you need to plan and cook for
  • When planning dinner meals, use a ‘template’ to help narrow down your choice, for example, fish on Mondays, chicken on Tuesday, red meat on Wednesday. Alternatively, weeknight themes can also make it quicker to select meals, for example meat-free Mondays, taco Tuesdays, etc

Shortcut 2: Shop once 

Now that you have your weekly meal plan ready, you can shop accordingly, making sure you have all the ingredients you need to cook your healthy meals for the week. This will also eliminate the need to duck-in to the supermarket after work, saving you time and money. 

Shortcut 3: Batch cook 

If you are spending the time cooking a bolognaise, soup, stew, casserole or curry, make a double batch to freeze. Your future self will thank you for giving yourself the night off cooking, while ensuring you have a healthy meal on hand. 

Shortcut 4: Simple meal prep 

Prepping a meal or two is a great time-saver midweek, but if this feels out of reach for you, you might start by prepping a few ingredients. For example, pre-chop your veggies for a stir-fry or snacking (side note: the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends 5 serves of veg per day, so snacking on vegetables is a great way to up your intake), pre-wash leaves for a salad or hard-boil a few eggs for lunches. 

Shortcut 5: Pantry meals 

You get home late from work, and now you don’t have time to cook the meal you had planned – so long as your ingredients will keep until tomorrow, postpone your dish and turn to your pantry and freezer. By keeping a few healthy staples on hand – canned tuna, canned beans, microwave rice, frozen vegetables, marinated tofu, wholegrain crackers – you can throw together a ‘buddha bowl’ style meal in less than 5 minutes.  

Bonus tip: Don’t forget about meal replacements 

Meal replacement shakes and bars provide a very quick and nutritionally balanced meal, so are great to have on standby (i.e. in your desk draw or pantry) or to include as a regular meal option in your meal plan, so you’ll always have a healthy option on hand. 

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