Cooking for Your Family

The world we live in has made it difficult to put healthy meals on the table. We are often running from one activity to another leaving less time to cook homemade meals or eat together as a family. This may mean we sometimes rely on convenience food and restaurant meals. Homemade meals are good for you and help in other ways too. Families who have fun cooking together are more likely to eat better and develop important food skills.

As a parent or caregiver you have a big influence over family meals and the types of foods your children eat. Positive experiences about food early on may help your children develop healthy eating habits later in life.

It’s all worth the effort. Cooking for your family at home can help you:

  • Choose healthier options.
  • Teach cooking skills to your children.
  • Provide more variety for your family.
  • Save money.
  • Have more family time together.

 

Simple Solutions to Everyday Challenges

"I don't have time to cook."

  • Prepare food ahead of time: slice onions, cut carrots, cook noodles and marinate meat so that they're ready to use.
  • On busier days, use pre-cut vegetables, bagged salads, pre-sliced meat and pre-grated cheese.
  • Make double batches of your favourite recipes and freeze the other half so you can heat and serve another day.
  • You can also turn tonight's leftovers into tomorrow's supper. Extra rice, noodles, vegetables and meat can be used in a soup, salad, stir-fry or sandwich.
  • Plan your meals for the week.
  • Look for one-pot recipes or recipes with a short ingredient list.
  • Slow cookers are extremely easy to use since you simply put all your fresh ingredients in the slow cooker and everyone can help themselves when ready.
  • Get the family involved for faster peeling, cutting, cooking, table setting and cleanup.
  • Make simple but nutritious meals with the foods that you usually have on hand.

Fast and Healthy Meal Ideas in a pinch

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk.
  • Whole wheat spaghetti tossed with a jar of pasta sauce, canned tuna or chickpeas, red pepper strips, zucchini and grated cheeses.
  • Stir-fried veggies with lean meat served over brown rice.

Adapted from Eat Right Ontario’s “Plan Your Own Menu”

 

“With our busy family schedule, we don't have much time to enjoy a meal together."

  • Plan supper around the day's schedule so that it’s either earlier or later on activity nights.
  • Set regular activities to encourage everyone to be home for the meal such as pizza on Friday or a pancake breakfast on Sunday.
  • Have lots of nutritious snacks ready, especially for nights when dinner will be later.
  • Let each member of the family take turns picking their favourite dinner menu.
  • Cook soups, stews and casseroles in a crockpot so it’s ready immediately when everyone gets home, even if that’s at separate times.
  • Plan special nights like dinner on the deck or a picnic in the backyard.

 

"How can I eat well on a budget?"

  • Check out the weekly flyers and plan your meals around the specials.
  • Cook from scratch when you can.
  • Keep your pantry stocked with basic staple ingredients.
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it – avoid shopping on an empty stomach.
  • Buy produce in season or visit a farmers' market.
  • Out of season, buy frozen and canned vegetables and fruit, which are nutritious, economical choices in the winter months.
  • Use store brands and buy in bulk.
  • Enjoy meatless meals a couple of times a week such as baked beans, vegetarian chili, lentil soup, eggs, tofu and peanut butter.

Adapted from Eat Right Ontario’s 10 Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget

Learn more about Access to Healthy Foods here.

 

For Further Information

Call the Nutrition Program: (807) 625-5900

or toll-free 1-888-294-6630

Last Updated: 13/10/2016