Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

How to get the right mix of meat, chicken and fish into your weekly meal plan.

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Tassal.

Any mother or the chief cook will be familiar with the rather painful question of what’s for dinner? And while we often hear of the importance of meal prep and planning to make mealtimes easier, far less frequently do we hear about the best way to strike the right nutritional balance of the different protein rich foods in our diets.

As a dietitian, when it comes to meal planning each week I actually set the menu according to the mix of protein rich foods I am keep for the family to consume. Here, not only do I start each week with my meal plan sorted, but I also tick the box on the key nutrients we need each week. So if you are not quite sure how to get the right mix of meat, chicken, fish and vege based meals into your meal repertoire, here are the simple steps to get the nutritional balance right for your family too.

Different protein rich foods contain different nutrient mixes. Red meat for example contains significant amounts of well absorbed iron, while oily fish such as Tassal salmon contains extremely high amounts of Omega-3 fats. As is the case with many areas of nutrition, it is a balance of different protein rich foods over an entire week that will ensure your family has plenty of variety but also the right mix of these key nutrients.

1. Lean Red Meat

Extra lean mince, lean sausages, steak and lean cutlets contain iron and zinc, in amounts that are hard to find in other foods. For families who choose to include red meat in the diet, including a red meat meal at least twice each week (with enough for leftovers) will help to ensure all family members has access to the well absorbed iron they need for energy production in the body. My weekly go to’s are a mince meal such as tacos or spag bol along with lean sausage or cutlets serves with salad or mashed veges. Aim to include 2-3 times each week.

2. Fish – Salmon

Knowing of the huge health benefits associated with a high intake of Omega-3 fats, I introduced Tassal salmon into the twins diets very early and now as a family we include salmon fillets in the mix at least twice each week. Generally we have a plain or marinated fillet with roasted or mashed veges but salmon patties, tacos or schnitzels are all family friendly meals that can be enjoyed at least twice each week that will ensure your family gets their weekly dose of Omega 3’s, which are important for immune and brain function and heart and cell health long term. Aim to include at least 2x a week.

3. Chicken

A family favourite that is also cost effective and versatile, the only down side of chicken is that it lacks the iron or Omega 3 content that helps to dictate how often it needs to be include to support optimal nutrient intake. Chicken offers protein, is relatively lean if you buy breast or tenderloins and contains zinc. I tend to opt for chicken on my menu once a week. Aim to include 1-2 x a week.

4. Vege based meal

There are many health benefits associated with plant based meals. They are higher in fibre, bump up our vege intake and vege meals also cost a lot less than meat meals. I aim to include 1-2 plant based meals on my menu plan each week with soup, bean nachos, spinach pie or vegetarian pizza on high rotation. Aim to include 1-2 x a week.

5. Eating out or ordering in

With 5-6 meals planned each week there is room for a cheeky burger or pizza delivery to compliment a week of healthy eating.

So next time you have the energy to meal plan, optimise your nutrient intake by planning according to protein balance. It makes the process surprisingly simple.