Planning and preparation is one of the most important steps in managing a sustainable diet.
Previously we detailed how to get your long term stores ready with a fully stocked pantry. Having the right food available to make healthy choices when it’s time to eat is further enhanced when you have fresh supplies in your fridge and freezer to choose from.
Doing so will provide the essential elements of a meal so if you’re unsure what to make you can search for a recipe via the key ingredients you’ve got and learn to cook something new.
Perishable food will have a quicker turn over than pantry food so will need to be restocked (and re-stacked) more frequently.
Including a range of foods in your fridge will allow a greater variety of options to call on for meals and snacks. Keeping food covered and in containers will keep it fresher for longer and preserve its life.
How you stack your fridge is really important for food safety – for example, don’t leave raw meats directly on a shelf or in a position where juices may drip onto other food.
Below is a range of foods to keep in your fridge and some extra tips on how to prep and use them to get fresh & healthy ingredients into your meals and snacks.
Vegetables – a seasonal range of coloured fresh vegetables. Roast up some root veges at the start of the week and add them to a container to include cold to salads or wraps during the week. Things like bags of mixed salads are a convenient idea to grab a handful and add to a meal for no fuss or prep. Cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers and carrots can be grabbed for a snack with no prep.
Fruit – not all fruit should be kept in the fridge. Grapes and berries will last longer in the fridge but most others will be best kept in the pantry.
Herbs – wash herbs and dry in a paper towel then wrap in a fresh dry paper towel and keep in the crisper of the fridge. Add to salads and pastas for extra flavours and antioxidants.
Dairy – dairy options will provide a great post-training protein source if it’s part of your diet. Milk, sliced cheese, ricotta, and natural or high protein yoghurt will provide the basis of a huge range of snacks. Milk alternatives will still be suitable to use but don’t have as much protein.
Meat / protein options – buy three or four different varieties of meat or protein alternatives each week to rotate choices and put in a recipe basic with a variation like using chicken mince in a Bolognese sauce
Extras – a dozen eggs, a tub of hummus, curry pastes or sauces, minced garlic and ginger, tubes of herbs, cold water, pickles or pickled vegetables
Meat – if buying meat in bulk portion it out to individual serving sizes before freezing so you can defrost as needed for a meal and not be left with too much defrosted meat (as you can’t refreeze after it’s been defrosted)
Fruit – peeling and slicing a banana and keeping in a zip-locked bag can be added to smoothies or to make ice cream. Additionally, bags of frozen berries can be added to cereal, yoghurt or smoothies for an antioxidant boost.
Frozen vegetables – a bag of peas in the freezer means you can always add a last-minute touch of green to any meal. Frozen veges are snap frozen when fresh so will still retain nutrient density, the texture may change a little so they are ideal for things like stir fries and casseroles. Add a bag of steamed veges to rice for a quick side dish.
Looking for more advice from the NSW Institute of Sport nutrition team? Here’s 11 resourceful shopping tips for athletes.\