Cook? Who has time to cook? Too busy driving kids to and from sports activities, dance classes, martial arts, school, friends’ homes, play dates, and more? Well, you are not alone. Most families are very busy and in many households both parents are working outside the home as well.
We’re inundated daily, with TV, magazine and newspaper articles touting the importance of good nutrition, healthy eating and dining together as a family. To add to the guilt trip is the continuous commercials, billboards fliers, etc. for fast food and speedy drive through meals…. including discount coupons! Great!! Dining out and take out are costly ways to feed your family, to say nothing of the poor nutrition and bad habits it encourages.
So, if you are concerned with nutrition and helping your children grow into healthy adults…here are some ideas to consider:
- Check the bookstores for a quick meal cookbook. Be sure the ingredients are few in number and lists the nutritional values of each recipe. Many recipes are fast & tasty and full of calories & fat. Be sure the recipes look like something you would realistically consider cooking and food your family would actually eat! Check out online recipe sites for quick and easy also.
- Plan a week’s menu, including eating out 1-2 times a week. Occasional fast food is OK, but not every day. Get the family involved in planning as well as the cooking. Make a list of what they like. Include their favorites each week. Invite one to cook each week. Those too young to cook can help set the table.
- Keep good fast food in the house. Frozen pizza crusts (some are wheat) can be topped with healthy ingredients, containing much less fat & calories as delivery pizza. Add a big tossed green salad and you have a quick and nutritious dinner. Buy the individual size crusts and each child or adult can make their own individual pizzas! Does a pepperoni happy face ring a bell? And…the low fat cheeses and pepperoni and salami slices are very tasty.
- Consider buying a slow cooker cookbook. One may have been included with your cooker. The evening before, plan what you will put in the pot…chicken or meatballs or a roast or ribs or a pork loin or whatever meat your family likes. Add some veggies & sauce or broth. The next morning, load the pot and set the dial. Psst…get those special slow cooker bags to line the pot to eliminate messy pot clean up. They are great!! Then head go about your busy day and when you arrive home, the house smells like someone has been cooking all day. Add a salad, some bread or wheat rolls and bon appetito’. Let the kids choose the recipe and help load the pot. One of my favorites is to slow cook (frozen or fresh) turkey meatballs or sausages with a tomato sauce. Serve it over pasta. Another favorite, and super simple idea, is to slow cook chicken breasts and fresh or canned mushrooms with canned cream of mushroom, celery or chicken soup. Toss in some veggies for added nutrition. Cook it slow and low. Serve this over brown rice or pasta. Add a nice big side vegetable or salad for a complete and delicious meal. A real no-brainer and tasty too! Yumm!
- Pantry meals are also great and simple. Stock your pantry with an assortment of pastas, rice mixes, orzo and couscous, along with a selection of jar sauces, Alfredo, Tomato, Pesto, etc. You will have another dinner on the table in minutes. Frozen veggies; corn, peas, greens, potatoes, etc. are all easy to store, quick to cook and easy to add to main dishes or as sides. Keeping tortillas, ground beef or turkey, a variety of canned beans on hand will ensure another quick meal in the making. Add pre-washed, bagged greens and grated cheese and it’s “make your own taco night!” You can do this and the family can help.
You CAN have Fast Food at home, which is nutritious, simple and easy on the budget!