Due to hectic lifestyle, many of us will visit the supermarket after work, not to buy raw ingredients for cooking but rather ready-prepared chilled or frozen meals that can be ready to be consumed after microwaving for a few minutes.
These meals are called commonly called ‘ready meals’, ‘ready-made meals’ or ‘instant meals’, and attractively packed(though not always 🙂 ), they come in all varieties and qualities.
Despite the negative connotations (mostly to do with their nutritional values) with these meals, not all of them are bad. Here are some guidelines for making healthy choices when getting these ready meals and even tips on how to make these meals healthier.
If you buy ready-made meals to save time, buy only those things you do not have time to make.
This is because the less you buy ‘pre-made’, the more control you exert over the food you are eating.
So choose a low calorie stew, by all means, but also go to the fresh food department for a potato to microwave instead of usıng fried or roast potatoes, and add some spinach that you can quickly steam or some colourful fresh salad ingredients.
Instead of buying prepacked coleslaw that is drenched in mayonnaise, buy a packet of shredded vegetables used to make coleslaw and drizzle on fat-tree Italian dressing when you are ready to eat.
For a lower-fat alternative to mayonnaise for summer salads, you can actually mix equal quantities of mayonnaise with fat-free Greek yogurt.
This is more of a time-saving tip. Suggestions:
You know that whole roasted chicken you got for tonight? Well, it can also double as a chicken Caesar salad for tomorrow’s dinner.
If you are making a bowl of couscous to go with your takeaway dinner tonight, why not double the amount and pick up some extra vegetables and fetta cheese for a Mediterranean salad the following night? Or for lunch tomorrow perhaps.
You get idea 😉
Serve barbecued chicken with a salad, some instant brown rice and a couple of sliced tomatoes – and you have got a healthy, easy, barely-have-to-cook-it meal.
Optional : Removing the skin. Much of the internal fat from a barbecued chicken drips out in the cooking, but the skin still holds quite a bit of fat.
Grill some skinless chicken breasts, cut them into strips and add to a ready-made pasta salad. Toss in some fresh broccoli, capsicum and tomatoes with low-fat dressing, and you have got an easy and healthy main course.
Low in fat, sushi is one of the healthiest choices you can make when popping into your supermarket to buy dinner, and many shops now stock a good selection. However, if you can’t stand the thought of raw fish, all is not lost as most shops offer cooked-fish sushi and vegetable-only sushi.
When choosing sandwiches, check the ingredients before buying.
A particularly healthy choice is wholegrain bread, lean meat, chicken or fish filling, with lots of vegetables such as tomato, lettuce, capsicum and cucumber, and just a small amount of spread.
While buying your ready-made meal of salad, get a can of beans as well.
When you reach home, add the beans to the selection of salads you have just bought.
You will have then made an economical choice (because beans are so filling) while adding valuable fibre and other nutrients to the salad. Nice!
Minestrone, lentil soup and black-bean soup are good examples of prepared soups to which little fat is added.
However, avoid creamy or cheesy soups such as broccoli and cheese or cream of asparagus – if you’re not sure, check the composition of the soup stock.
Generally, the best soup base is vegetable broth, followed by chicken broth, then beet stock and, finally, cream.
But remember that while pre-washed leaves make salad preparation a breeze, it is always better and tastier to prepare your own from fresh.