How Do I Cook More at Home?

Posted: Sep 28 in Health And Wellness, Nutrition, Weight Management Strategies by

My patients often say to me, “I’d like to cook more, but it’s so hard! I just can’t find the time, and don’t know where to start! With the average meal out racking up over a thousand calories (this is without appetizers, caloric beverages or desserts (!)) and costing more than an arm or a leg, especially if you have several hungry mouths to feed, eating in is a wise choice! The place to begin is with a weekly menu. Just grab any old piece of paper, and all persons in your household who are old enough to know what they like to eat. We’ll start with the dinner meal – the toughest one on which to get a consensus. Have two people to please? The cook gets four choices, the main eater gets three. Three people? Two each, with again, the cook getting three. More power to family members who’d like to make and present the meals they choose! No ideas? Take out your healthy cookbooks and find some! Write the cookbook name and page number on your menu. Divvying up the dinners helps people to be more appreciative and (maybe) encourages them to try new things. Cooks get a pass on clean-up!

Think about time-savers: Pre-made turkey breast or salmon burgers (six minutes from frozen on your George Foreman), canned beans, shredded cabbage, turkey meatballs, veggie steamer bags, salad kits with low-fat dressing. Try to get fish in there two or three times a week, and go Veggie once a week with a salad or hot-pot featuring beans, veggies, low-fat cheese and perhaps a couple of nuts. Casseroles are fine, if starches are part of your current program. If not, just give the spouse and the kids whole wheat bread while you dine on protein and veggies. Fruit is fantastic for dessert; Even more fun with a quick squirt of light whipped cream!

Once you have the dinner menu done, flip it over and make your grocery list for the week. Take it to the store with you and make changes if you come across a sale that must be come part of your menu! Remember your staples: Cottage cheese, whole grain breads and cereals, Skim, unsweetened soy or almond milk, romaine lettuce, beans, chicken breasts or thighs, whole grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa. Look for veggies and fruits in season. They’ll be fresher, yummier and less expensive. Sending kids to schools with a healthy lunch? Sandwiches, salads, cheese and whole grain crackers…Don’t forget leftovers! If kids want pizza, try the whole wheat Boboli crust with sauce, turkey pepperoni, veggies and low-fat mozzarella. So much healthier, and done in 20 minutes! Breakfast on the run? Boil up a bunch of eggs early in the week. Take string cheese and a banana in the car on the way to work or school. Don’t forget fruits and veggies for at work snacks and the after-school meal, which has been shown to be the largest of the day for most kids. Whew! This is definitely a project every week, and the money you’ll save plus the nutrition you’ll serve make it one of the most important pieces of work you’ll do for yourself and your family! Bon Appetite!

By Tracy Boykin, RD


One Response to “How Do I Cook More at Home?”
  • Heather Thomas says:

    Great suggestions, Tracy. One staple that I often grab is a Rotisserie chicken. We will have it night one with veggies, starch, etc. I then will pick from it over the next few days to shred over salad, or use in chicken-cheese quesadillas (with low-fat cheese and tortillas of course) for after school snacks. Some weeks I will make a chicken tortilla soup from it by adding black beans, tomatoes, bell peppers and corn.

    I am desperate for quick ideas, so I hope many of you will chime in with your super quick and healthy weeknight suppers.

    Heather Thomas

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