Preparing Healthy Meals at Home

Update: 11/19/2012 - View: 14606

As parents, you understand the importance of providing nutritious meals for your growing children; and your home is the best place to start and invest in good nutrition!

Home-cooked meals are generally considered more healthy and nutritious as you get to choose the types of ingredients being used and methods to cook each dish. Cooking at home is also an excellent way to save money.

Prep-o-cook!

It is not easy preparing meals for your family everyday. With your hectic schedules, time is always a major constraint. However, all it really takes is to think a few steps ahead; plan your food purchases and meals preparation ahead of time. To make the planning process fun, get your family members involved in the whole meal preparation process.

Plan WISELY

  • Start planning 2-3 days ahead or even on a weekly basis to save time.
  • Be sure to incorporate different foods from each food group of the Food Pyramid.
  • Plan different types of dishes and cooking styles so that you don't bore your family with the same type of dish or cooking style everyday.

Shop SMARTLY

  • Shop according to a prepared grocery list based on the menu you have planned.
  • Choose fresh foods more than processed foods.
  • Buy perishables such as fresh foods at the end of your shopping trip.
  • When buying processed foods, read the nutrition information panel to look at the nutritional content. Don't forget to check expiry dates too.

Prepare EARLY

  • Prepare ingredients like onions, chillies, and garlic in advance and store them in airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Prepare and freeze beforehand sauces, stocks or even extra batches of food. Store them in microwavable containers so that you can quickly heat them up later.
  • Prepare foods that take longer to cook first; you can prepare other dishes while waiting for the food to cook.

Cook HEALTHILY

After all the planning and shopping, it's time to don your apron and get busy. The way you prepare and cook your food determines how nutritious your family meals turn out. Different cooking styles produce different results. This will also give you the chance to experiment with ingredients that can add extra health benefit or alter the texture and taste of a dish.

A good tip to remember is that some cooking methods are healthier than others, for example, it's better to roast than deep-fry as fried foods contain more fat. For wholesome dishes, you can try the following cooking methods:

  • Stir-fry
    This is a quick method of cooking that retains nutritional value. It's also easy to add lots of veggie goodness to your stir-fried dish.
  • Soup
    Children find it easier eat soupy foods. You can boil a chicken to make soup and add vegetables, potatoes, rice or noodles in. Alternatively, you can try chicken porridge. For healthier stews and soups, minimise the use of oil.
  • Steam
    This method of cooking is an excellent way to keep the food's nutrients and flavours in. Although steaming may take longer, you can save time by cutting fish, poultry or meat into smaller pieces. You can also save time by placing a bowl of chicken into a rice cooker (while it's cooking) so you can create two dishes instead of one. Steaming only requires a minimum amount of oil.
  • Stew
    Stewing is a great way to introduce veggies like carrots and tomatoes that add colour and nutritional goodness. Stew can be prepared by using a slow cooker (crock pot) or stew over a stove.
  • Bake
    You can bake chicken pie by adding veggies, spices and seasoning to chicken, placing everything into pastry dough and sticking it in the oven. Or bake chicken casseroles to provide children with the goodness of cheese.
  • Roast
    Roasting is convenient, but do remember not to cover your fish, poultry and meat with too much oil. You can also roast potatoes and carrots simultaneously to enjoy a balanced meal.

Grill

Grilling is another healthy cooking method to cook meats, poultry and fish without using fat and oil. The heat from the grill will seal the outer part of the food, thus keeping the flavour and nutrients in. If you do not have a grill at home, you can always grill meat in a microwave, to speed up grilling time.

 

Healhy cooking tips

  1. Add veggies and fruits whenever you can.
  2. Opt for dishes that are low in fat, sugar & salt and high in fibre and nutritional value.
  3. Aim for healthy dishes and tasty dishes.
  4. Present foods in fun and interesting ways.

Cooking with Your Child

Children in their pre-school or primary school years are at an ideal age to learn about good nutrition. They're always interested to try new things. They're also capable enough to help you around the kitchen. Here are some easy tasks your child can help with:

  • Wash fruits and veggies.
  • Tear veggies into pieces.
  • Garnish dishes.
  • Mix ingredients.
  • Help to set the table.
  • Prepare simple snacks or side dishes like sandwiches, salad, mashed potatoes, etc.

Preparing meals the old fashioned way - in your own kitchen - is not that difficult. With a little thought, planning and preparation, you could be enjoying delicious meals with your family. It can also be a wonderful way to bring your family together, while helping you save money.