Our dietary patterns are changing as we spend more time at home and inevitably more time in the kitchen. As the weeks pass we may find ourselves seeking recipe inspiration or looking for tips on efficient meal planning and grocery shopping or wondering if our new diets are healthy.
Take a look at these tips and tricks from our nutrition team on how to eat healthily during this time:
Meal planning and grocery shopping
- Planning and prepping meals in advance takes some of the pressure off during the week when we are trying to juggle kids, pets, work and meetings. Make grocery shopping easier by exploring options such as curbside pickup and delivery services. If you do need to go to the store, organise your grocery list by section to minimise time spent in the store.
- Start your meal planning by seeing what you have on hand. Left over veggies and meats are great for soups, frittatas, casseroles and sandwiches. Beans and grains can be used for salads and fillings. To save time, double your dinner recipes and have a ready-made lunch for the next day or freeze half for an easy dinner another night. The crockpot and pressure cookers are great for this.
- When choosing recipes and planning meals be sure to include each of the five food groups: fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein in each meal. Limit foods high in salt, sugar and fat. Include fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. They are nutritionally equivalent options that can make cooking easier. There is no magic bullet when it comes to immunity, but a balanced diet can help provide the nutrients we need to help support our immune system.
- Have go-to recipes that you will always have the ingredients for: Taco Tuesdays or Spaghetti and Meatball Saturdays! Having staples on regular rotation helps take the stress off meal planning and creates routine. Incorporate convenience foods: a chili with canned beans, tomatoes and corn; a frozen lasagna with a side of broccoli (can also be frozen!).
- Spending a couple of hours prepping at the beginning of the week can save loads of time when we are tired after a long work day and can keep us from being tempted by junk food. Chop veggies and fruit for snacks and meal add-ins. Roast a tray of sweet potatoes for a quick side for lunches or dinners. Feta cheese or tofu seasoned with turmeric can be added for extra ompf! Keep a container of cooked beans in the fridge. They can be added to salads, wraps, burritos – the possibilities are endless! Same with marinated, grilled chicken.
- Short on time, but love cooking? Try a meal service that ships the recipes, instructions and ingredients to your door. Some even do the prep work for you!
Mix up your dinner routine with one of these ideas!
Bake salmon seasoned with garlic salt at 425°F (220°C) for 20 mins. Get those healthy fats in! Serve with rice and a side of veggies.
Make a balanced bowl with what you have on hand. Start with a whole grain base such as brown rice or quinoa and top with veggies, dried fruit and protein. Add a little cheese or a sauce made with Greek yogurt.
Incorporate herbs to spice things up and reduce salt intake.
Grill fruits like pineapple, peaches and watermelons for a fun summer treat.
Add kimchi to fried rice, stews and sandwiches for some good bacteria and a little kick.
Freeze grapes and ripe bananas for banana “ice cream”: two healthy snacks the whole family will love.
Getting kids involved in healthy eating
- Involve the whole family in meal preparation and cooking. Little ones can peel and stir. Older kids can chop. Kids who are a part of the process are more likely to eat their creations.
- Speaking of creations, have a make-your-own pizza night or a baked potato bar. Crusts can be bought pre-made and veggies can be canned or chopped in advance.
- Introduce kids to new foods and flavours by hosting a taste test! Make it fun: use small portions, special dishes and score cards. Sample new dishes, new spices and new preparations.
- Sneak some veggies in by blending roasted veggies and adding to tomato sauce.
- Have a snack box available for grazing. It can include cheese sticks or cubes, yogurt cups, crackers, pre-portioned peanut butter or hummus for dipping, pre-cut fruits and veggies, or popcorn.
Lastly, give yourself grace – sometimes dinner is going to be a takeaway or bowl of cereal! As long as it’s not a daily thing, it’s okay!