My patients often tell me that having to find time to cook for their family makes it harder to eat well themselves. I polled some of my friends who are working moms to get some real life tips, and I got an especially awesome response with lots of great ideas from my good friend Dr Ronagh Hatcher, a family physician in Calgary who has two little ones at home. Here’s what she had to say!
#1 – Be organized. It takes time to get there but the more you can plan ahead the healthier you will eat. As we have food alergies/intolerances in our family, we don’t have a lot of options so we have to be organized. Every Sunday, we plan out our meals for the week; from there, we develop a grocery list. That way, every day I know what we are having for dinner, and most days we already have everything we need. You will also find it saves you money!!
#2 – Make freezer meals. Once a week I try to make triple or more of a meal that freezes well. We have it for dinner that night, then store the unused portions for those days when you won’t have time to cook. After a few weeks I end up with a great selection in the freezer. This is a huge timesaver as it means I don’t have to cook a few nights a week. Things I find that freeze well are spaghetti sauce, pulled pork, lasagna, curries, chicken taco meat, shepards pie, turkey meatballs, chili… Just to name a few! Homemade muffins and soups also freeze well for healthy lunch/snack options. I invested in some quality Pyrex glass storage wear with plastic lids… They can go straight from the freezer to the microwave or oven.
Dr Sue’s comment: I’m secretly a bit envious of Ronagh’s family and all the great food they get to eat. Ronagh was my roommate years ago in med school, and I LOVED it when she cooked for me!
#3 – Get aquainted with a slow cooker – this is key for working parents!!!! It means you can take 5-10 minutes in the morning to throw stuff in your slow cooker, turn it on, and presto… dinner is done when you get home. I recommend buying a large volume one because these meals are usually good for leftovers, or for ‘freezer meals’. I have a recipe book that does not require you brown the meat first, which is also a big time saver.
#4 – Make ahead healthy lunch options. There are certain lunches that I can eat for days in a row and never get sick of them. It is worth making the effort one day to have the convenience for the next three! Things I like to do this with are homemade soups, like roasted butternut squash, or salads like couscous or quinoa ones that keep well. Some pre made options I really like are ‘Imagine Organic Creamy Tomato’ and Costco quinoa salad.
Dr Sue: Nutritional info for these foods is in the links – just click on them! Remember to portion control. 🙂
#5 – Shop around for healthier pre made food options for when you just dont have the time or energy… here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Superstore blue menu has some great flax chicken strips
- Buy Costco falafels, heat in a pan and serve with rice and salad
- Cooked whole chicken – chop and sauté with onions and tomato sauce for a quick pasta sauce, or serve over salad for a fresh lighter meal. The possibilities are endless here.
- If you need a pizza fix… Delicio harvest wheat thin crust pizza is a MUCH healthier opinion than takeout
- local premade food companies… I use one called ‘Green Figs and Yams’ – for $16 dollars a dish you can buy healthy freezer ready entrees for 3-4 people.
#6 – If you don’t know how to cook, learn! Some great healthy cookbooks are the Looney spoons/Crazy Plates ones. They have tons of healthy yet tasty recipes, complete with nutritional information.
Dr Sue’s comment – I use these recipe books too – I love them so much that I asked for (and received) permission from the authors to post the odd recipe from their collection
Dr Sue Pedersen www.drsue.ca © 2012 firstname.lastname@example.org
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