By Sarah Smith, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Bayside Dietetics
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I bumped into an old friend yesterday. She had just returned to work after maternity leave and was struggling to cope with the standards she was setting herself in different areas. One of the major concerns she had was feeding her family well.
“I’m either on or I’m off” she told me. “If I’m on, I spend part of my weekend planning meals, doing the shopping and cutting the vegetables. But if I don’t have time for that, my whole week of eating falls apart.”
My friend isn’t an isolated case, and there is now a whole industry to help busy people eat well. Here are a few ideas and some of the pros and cons of each.
Meal Delivery Services
The meals are pre-made and delivered to you. Most are healthy and meet a range of dietary needs. Companies include Dineamic, Lite N Easy, My Goodness Organics, Youfoodz and Choice Fresh. There are also lots of local ones around so it’s worth a google in your area.
Pros: A clean kitchen. Avoiding the supermarket. Dinner in the click of a microwave button.
Cons: Cost. Taste fatigue.
Ingredient Delivery Services
Ever find a Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon coupon in the letterbox? The ingredients are sent your way but it’s up to you to prepare.
Pros: No need to think of what to cook, no shopping for ingredients and no ingredient wastage. You may even be inspired by cooking again.
Cons: Not as instant as a delivered meal. Not chicken again!!
Commercial Meal Kits
So many options in so many different food styles. Online shoppers can even click on a meal kit “bundle” for all the extra ingredients.
Pros: Easy fast meal preparation. Plenty of variety.
Cons: Won’t be like gran’s home cooking and still requires shopping and cooking.
Jazz Up Just part of the meal kits
Your usual fish or steak can be transformed by varying the side dish. One day with Mexican rice, the next with Asian noodles.
Pros: Fast and easy way of getting variety and flavour into meals.
Cons: You’re still doing most of the work. Only helps with part of the meal.
The humble supermarket now has a range of meal kits to make your next meal easier. These include salad kits, pre-sliced vegetable and soup kits.
Pros: No need to chop your salad.
Cons: Facing the supermarket every day for fresh ingredients.
Precooked Grain pouches
Just heat the rice or quinoa in the packet and serve. It’s already cooked. There are plain and flavoured options.
Pros: Rice in 90 seconds. Yes it’s real rice.
Cons: Can’t just eat plain rice for dinner. Filling the bin with all the packets.
These days as nutritious as store bought fresh options.
Pros: Always fresh and doesn’t require regular shopping.
Cons: Limited variety. For some, hospital food memories are awakened.
Frozen Meals and Ingredients
Almost everything available these days including vegetarian sausages, wild-caught fish fillets, as well as the humble frozen roast dinner and oven chips.
Pros: Useful backups for the days when time got away.
Cons: Not for a foodie.
Linked Recipe Sites
taste.com.au links to a Coles Shopping cart while Woolworths uses Jamie Oliver’s recipe talents through their online shopping website.
Pros: Recipe selection and shopping can be done in several clicks of a button. Looking at new recipes can inspire cooking again. Recipes are simple.
Cons: Getting an available delivery time slot. And still doing all the work.
Rather than relying on just one of these, I recommend picking up a combination of the ideas you like. For example, chopped vegetables and grain pouches to save time on a daily basis, occasional use of online recipes when you are feeling inspired, and back up frozen fish and vegetables when you are tired.
I hope I’ve found you 5 minutes
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