Ask the dietitian – How can I make healthy meal delivery choices?

Ask the dietitian – How can I make healthy meal delivery choices?

Meal delivery services are here to stay. They are convenient, and free up precious time for us to do the things we love. However, they are not always good for our health or our waistline. Fret not though, for you can make healthy meal delivery choices by following these tips!

1. Always try to create balance in your meals

There’s no other way to eat healthily than to have a variety of foods from different food groups daily. At every lunch and dinner meal, you should have a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fibre from vegetables. Protein helps to maintain your muscle mass and immune function, fibre helps prevent chronic diseases and ensures regular bowels and a healthy colon, while carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy.

healthy meal delivery choices - choose balanced meals

Always choose dishes with a mix of all three. Examples may include grilled fish with corn, roasted potatoes and salad; Vietnamese pho with beef slices and beansprouts; or Chinese-styled shared dishes of black pepper beef, stir-fried kai lan, and rice. When you want to make healthy meal delivery choices, thinking about what forms a healthy plate is the way to go.

2. Look out for high-fat cooking methods

Beyond trying to create a balanced plate, it’s important to look out for hidden fats in dishes. You may have the most balanced meal, but if they’re high in fat, you can be consuming more calories than you intend to. Dishes that are deep-fried will contain a lot of oil, worse still if they are then re-fried in sauce (i.e. sweet and sour fish). Eggplant is a vegetable I always flag up because they tend to be deep-fried in commercial kitchens before being re-fried in sauces for flavour (that’s how they get so creamy and flavourful!)

healthy meal delivery choices - avoid high fat foods

Dishes that are cooked in coconut-based products, such as chicken curry, beef rendang, or nasi lemak are also full of hidden-fats. Don’t forget about fatty-cuts of meat such as pork belly too (read more whether it’s actually nutritious here). Lastly, fried or flavoured rice like nasi goreng, yang zhou fried rice, chicken rice, or briyani would have a higher fat, and thus calorie content than plain rice.

3. Pack leftovers

You may find yourself ordering more than you need in order to get free delivery, or maximise on the delivery fees. I had a client who once told me she found her clothes getting tighter after meal delivery became her main source of meals. If you can relate, it’s time to beat the system.

how to make healthy meal delivery choices

Save on delivery and cut your calories at the same time by portioning your food out. Plate what you need for the meal before digging in, and pack the rest in microwave-safe containers. This way, you can bring leftovers to work for lunch, or have it for dinner the next day. Sometimes, you may even be able to pack away two or three meals from one order. To prevent food-fatigue from eating the same meal every day, place foods that you’re not going to eat within the next 3-4 days in the freezer, where they can keep for 2-3 months.

4. Don’t forget that about healthy meal delivery services out there!

Looking for healthy meal delivery choices? Don’t forget about Tingkat! There are also many other healthy meal delivery services out there. Depending on the menu and cooking method of dishes, you can get much healthier options. When picking dishes from the menu, make sure you pick dishes that are stir-fried, sautéed, boiled, steamed, or grilled. Also, watch out for classic dishes that are normally deep-fried or rich in coconut milk (without it being explicitly stated). This would include dishes like sweet and sour pork, Thai-styled crispy tofu, chicken curry, or ngo hiang.

If you’re frequently ordering from restaurants through meal-delivery services, you might find that these services make for a much more affordable alternative in the long-term.

5. Value-add wherever you can

Sometimes, all you may want is a spicy, steaming bowl of laksa, or a hearty plate of chicken rice for dinner.  I’d say if this was an occasional indulgence, go for it! Do remember though, that if it’s being delivered, you would’ve saved some time from having to get it yourself. While waiting for your food to arrive, you could value-add to your dish and still have a balanced meal by cooking up some vegetables at home.

healthy meal delivery choices - add salad

You may blanch some vegetables, or give them a zap in the microwave. Microwave-cooking of vegetables retains more nutrients than blanching them as there are no nutrient-losses through water. Otherwise, whip up a quick salad; balsamic vinegar and olive oil makes for a easy and fuss-free dressing!

Want to know which vegetables have the least prep-time and how to prepare them? Check out my post here. Want to go one-step further and cook on some days? Check out how you can save time in the kitchen here.

Making healthy meal delivery choices is within your control.

Set your mind to it, and you can save time while watching your health. We want to make the most of this convenient system that is available to us, without falling prey to the negative effects of meal delivery services on our health. With these tips, you don’t have to only be ordering salad on GrabFood. What you eat, and what you choose for your health, is just a click away.

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