My family has fallen into a dietary rut. We try our best to cook nutritious meals at home; but lately we are eating more and more processed meals and ordering fast food. We buy vegetables and fruits, but much of the time they go to waste. It is a cycle I have experienced before and promised myself to avoid.
I was overweight in my 20’s, I ate too much sugar, not enough vegetables, no whole grains and everything I ingested was processed. I did not want to pass on these lifestyle traits to my son.
With this in mind, my family is trying to institute some lifestyle changes to promote healthier eating.
1. Create a fixed food budget, and keep it on the low side.
Pay extra for quality ingredients and avoid the cheaper processed meals.
High budget shopping usually ends up with large amounts of groceries that are unhealthy and never get used. Pre-cooked foods and processed meals are convenient, unhealthy, and expensive.
2. Shop for groceries more often, but with less products on your list.
North American schedules have dictated that we shop 2 to 4 times a month for groceries. We buy in bulk, not buying for what we are going to cook, but what we might cook.
Start small and make time for more frequent trips to the super market. Shop with a purpose; make sure you have only enough products that you can sneak through the 12 items or less line.
You’ll be motivated and inspired to cook if you have just bought food with a recipe in mind. Ultimately, you’ll cook with fresher produce and meats, which will produce better meals.
3. Make your list at home and stick by it.
Be prepared to walk into the grocery store and know exacty what you are buying and what isle you will find it in.
Store specials are flashy and tempting, but they are also distracting you from a lifestyle change. In a split second, that frozen pizza on sale is much more appealing than the salad you were set on making that night.
4. Make a list of 10 recipes that you can rotate.
Less recipes, make cooking times more efficient and reduces waste. This allows you to build a staple of groceries and reduces shopping times.
Changing the set of recipes you use for different seasons can also be effective in maximizing the freshness of the food and reducing the cost.
5. Order groceries online.
Shopping online will free up your time and keep children from influencing your purchases. How many of us have had children place a bag of cookies or chips in the buggy as you wander the isles?
People looking for high quality produce might be appalled about ordering produce without being able to inspect it for ripeness, but there has to be a certain amount of trust in the online grocer and their dedication of quality.
6. Get your kids involved.
Finding time to spend with your children is hard. Teaching them to cook and prepare meals gives you precious face time with your kids. The benefit for them will be unending as they will have the skills to feed themselves properly when they are out on their own.
By their pre-teens, they can take up some of the responsibilities for making meals and free up your time.
7. Eat at a table with the television off.
A good home cook meal should be enjoyed and intermixed with lively discussions of the happenings of the day. Even in silence the meal seperates people from the stress of the day.
Slowing down to eat together also impacts the food you cook . A meal eaten slowly is a meal enjoyed. Even if the family doesn’t always talk, eating a meal together is a bonding experience.
8. Use the microwave for cooking and not just heating up food.
The microwave was created for convenience, and companies took full advantage of this. Creating readymade foods that could heat up in a fraction of the time it would take in a conventional oven.
But, if you look online, you will find many recipes that use the microwave to cook good meals.You will save time and energy, and as a bonus it allows younger children to cook without the danger of using a stove or oven.
9. Get rid of the sugar.
Make drinking pop a prize, as it is literally a desert.
Clear out the fruit juices unless its freshly squeezed and bring in the milk and water. If you start kids early enough, they can learn to enjoying drinking liquids without sugar.
10. Make fruit a desert.
Avoid the whip cream and the extra sugar. Sell your family on the idea of fresh fruit as part of your meal.
11. Create 25 fast food tokens for the year.
Every time you order fast food or eat out, take out a token.
Once they are gone, they are gone; it will take discipline, but will be worth it. You’ll be teaching your kids that fast food is a treat no different than candy and that portioned out over time in a responsible matter it tastes that much better.
I hope that tips inspires people to find their own way to cook delicious and healthy meals while making time for things that are important for them.