Whether you’re at work, home or play; we all know the challenges of rushed mornings, meetings and events, lunchtime decisions, the mid-day slump, and commuter cravings as we try to eat healthy throughout the day.
Looking back at my own experience, mom always made it look so easy – juggling career, kids, and a social life of her own.
I remember, every day we had breakfast, a nice nutritious lunch, and a tasty well-balanced dinner at the end of the day. But now that I’m a grown woman, have completed two nutrition-related degrees and don’t have any kids (yet), I find I am struggling to feed myself and fiancé properly!
How did my mom do it?
Naturally, I had to find out her secret. Was she superwoman or did she have some tricks up her sleeve? Although I do think my mother is superwoman; she did have a few simple tricks that anyone can use to have well-balanced meals.
The first thing, a slow cooker can be your best friend! But in order to work within budget, her biggest trick was planning! She said she would sit down with a cup of tea on Sunday nights when we were gone to bed and plan our meals for the week.
Ok, planning, that makes sense. But what about on a daily basis?
“While I was waiting for the coffee pot to brew in the morning, I would throw some chicken, or a roast, or something like that into the slow cooker, sprinkle some herbs and spices over the top and let it cook during the day. Then when I got home, it was only to put on some veggies and we would have a tasty well-balanced meal,” said Mom.
Then I asked how she managed to make such wonderful lunches, because if I have any more sandwiches made with processed meats, I’m going to scream!
Again, she said it was all about planning! “In the morning I’d always make a little extra so I could make use the leftovers for lunches the next day.”
“Another good tip is on those weekends that you don’t have too much on the go, make a big pot of soup or chili, or lasagna and freeze them for those days that are too crazy to make anything at all. Then all you have to do is to take it out of the freezer and heat it up,” said Mom.
She reminded me that even if we end up eating out or getting take-out once in a while, it doesn’t make you a failure. Sometimes life is crazy and we need to treat ourselves!
After talking with my Mom, I was driving home and I said to myself that all these things were actually doable. Over the next week, my fiancé and I would give it a try!
On Saturday morning, while we had our coffee we planned our meals for the week and wrote a grocery list that we actually brought to the store with us. We were getting checked out and the most amazing thing happened – our grocery bill was cheaper! We had gotten everything on our list and it was less money than we would normally spend.
This was looking good, but shopping was the easy part. Would I be able to cook and plan consistently?
When Monday morning rolled around, I wondered if this new approach to meal preparation would work. I decided on making chicken breasts; something relatively simple for the first try. While I was waiting for my toast to pop, I put the chicken in the slow cooker, added a few herbs and spices and turned it on. It only took me five minutes to prepare. So far, so good!
When we got home that evening, the delicious smell of supper caught us at the door. We threw on some mixed veggies and some whole grain rice and within 10 minutes supper was ready. Then as we were cleaning up, we made some chicken sandwiches from the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Day 1 was a success!
The next day, I got a little more adventurous and made a whole chicken and threw some small potatoes in with the chicken – they cooked beautifully too!
We have been following these tips for a few months now and not only do we have a more well-balanced diet and more time in the evenings, we are also saving money!
I guess it’s true – Moms do know best! ■
March is Nutrition Month, a month dedicated to promoting healthy eating for all. The theme this year is ‘Healthy Eating from 9-5’ – helping Canadians learn how to eat well all day long!
For more tips and tricks to make healthy eating easy, quick and inexpensive, visit www.nutritionmonth.ca.
This story was written by Victoria Piercey in collaboration with Heather Ash, dietetic interns with Eastern Health.