How busy parents get healthy dinners on the table
It’s a new year, and we’re all off to the races. Routines are back in place and households are running like well-oiled machines. Families are recommitted to eating better, but busy schedules make that nearly impossible to achieve on a consistent basis. Why is getting a home-cooked meal on the table SO hard? The answer is that it doesn’t have to be if you break it down into easy steps.
Here’s something to consider: Millennials are leading the cooking-at-home trend. Millennials want to increase the cooking they do at home and are twice as likely as baby boomers to do so. With 72% of Americans cooking meals at home four nights each week or more, 53% of those cooking at home want it to be easier. Most millennials want inspiration for quick and easy cooking, while boomers are more concerned with nutritional value.
How can you make it easier to eat better? Here’s the key: it’s all in the planning. Follow these 7 easy steps:
Step 1: Narrow the criteria down for what makes a good dinner.
Does it have to come together quickly? Does it need to be healthy? Does it need to use simple ingredients? Can I use the leftover ingredients for other things? Proper meal planning will save time, energy and money. You also won’t need to ask for divine inspiration when you walk into the grocery store or sit down to order your groceries online.
Step 2: Pick the recipes you want to make.
Consider how much time you have to cook, and choose recipes to fit your criteria. Try to avoid recipes that involve too many ingredients or ingredients you won’t use again. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better when you are trying to create healthy home-cooked meals. You’ll find that certain recipes become family favorites and will become your staples.
People who cook don’t cook something new every night. That’s just too hard. Most cooks rely on a handful of recipes and, every once in a while, try something new to keep things interesting. Don’t pressure yourself to pull off a gourmet meal every night. A good, simple, healthy low-pressure meal is the goal.
If you are a visual person look for Healthy Video Recipes.
Video recipes can quickly demonstrate techniques that are hard to explain in writing. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to cooking, and videos make a great teaching tool.
Step 3: Make a list.
A shopping list is a beautiful thing. On your phone or on paper, organize your ingredients into these categories so you don’t forget items, and you’re not running in all directions all over the store.
- Packaged Foods
Remember that the healthy stuff in a grocery store is around the perimeter of the store. The stuff in the middle of the store is the most processed. Be aware and read nutrition labels.
Don’t forget to add other things you’ll need throughout the week for breakfasts and lunches. The better the list, the less time you’ll waste running back and forth from the grocery store multiple times each week.
Step 4: Head to the store or order online.
When you’ve got an organized, well-thought-out shopping list, getting your groceries is a breeze—even enjoyable. If ordering online, the first time will take a while; but once you have your list selected, re-ordering is a breeze. Enjoy a good cup of coffee while you shop and relax whether you go to a grocery store or shop from home in your PJ’s.
Your planning and organizing is going to make home-cooked meals happen more easily and more often. Remember to stick to what’s on your list to save money and avoid impulse purchases that you won’t use up.
Step 5: Unpack, prep and store your food.
Unpack your groceries. Wash fresh produce and store properly so it’s ready to go and lasts longer. That means rinsing fresh fruit and vegetables. Remove excess moisture and store in the produce drawers of the refrigerator. Now is a good time to throw away anything that’s gone bad and to wipe down the shelves. There is always a certain amount of waste that comes with home cooking, but you can minimize it by storing your food the right way and using leftover ingredients in creative ways.
Step 6: You’re ready to go!
You’ve got a plan and the ingredients to execute that plan, so relax and enjoy making your meal. Get family members to help by setting the table, chopping ingredients or helping with the dishes. A home-cooked meal takes some effort, but if everyone contributes just a little, the process can be less stressful and good for everyone. Now, you can sit down and enjoy your mealtime together knowing that what you’ve made will nourish the body and feed the soul.
Step 7: Repeat
The key to meal planning is consistency. Make meal planning a habit, not a chore. Once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll realize how much time and energy it saves.
Healthy home cooking doesn’t have to be hard. Use tools to help you get the job done. If you enjoyed this article and would like to share it with a friend, please do. At MEAL5.com, our mission is to help busy families eat good food with simple, easy recipes and healthy meal plans. They are offered in Quick Cooking Videos that are easy to learn from. Thank you for taking time to read this article. Eat well! Feel better!