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How to plan meals but stay flexible

Chopped vegetables in containers

Dietitians Anna Debenham and Alex Parker explain how to prep your meals ahead of time, without being tied down to your choices or the kitchen.

Q I like the idea of meal planning, but does that mean I have to eat the same meals every day? How do I get food variety without hours of shopping or prepping?

Liz Walker, via email

A A great way to prep food is to prepare individual ingredients, such as a tray of roasted veggies, rather than entire meals. This gives you more variety and flexibility to mix and match meals throughout the week, without spending hours in the kitchen.

We suggest you prep a few healthy ingredients so that your daily meals include a balance of carbs, vegetables and proteins. Try to aim for:

  • Good-quality carbs Make a batch of brown rice or quinoa and keep them in the fridge for a few days. Or roast some sweet potato or potato.
  • Colourful veg Roast a tray of broccoli, onion, carrot and capsicum. Or chop up vegetable sticks like carrot and celery, then store them in a container with cold water to keep them crunchy.
  • Satisfying protein Choose a mix of plant and animal proteins — like marinated tofu, boiled eggs and roast chicken — to give you variety all week.

Once you’ve prepped these ingredients, they’ll keep in air-tight containers for three to four days in the fridge. Then combine them to create easy, delicious meals.

First published: Aug 2021

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