“Research finds that people who eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis tend to be happier and healthier and consume less sugar and processed foods, which can result in higher energy levels and better mental health. Eating home-cooked meals five or more days a week is even associated with a longer life.”4
I grew up in a family where food was the centre of it all. No one is likely shocked by that statement if you know me at all. The women in my family loved to cook, the men and children loved to eat, and everyone loved talking about food. My mother and my aunt talked every morning when I was growing up and I am pretty sure the sole purpose of the daily phone call was to share with each other what was on the menu for dinner. Meals were eaten at home. Lunches were brought to school, on the ski hills and everywhere in between.
I was that kid envious of my friends with store brought treats in their lunches and of course, many years later I would send my own daughter to school with homemade treats. A proud moment for me now is seeing Olivia take the time to make her own school lunch nightly and spend time cooking and baking in our kitchen.
When I was 10 my parents got divorced and my mom had to take an additional job in the evenings, it wasn’t long after that I started to experiment in the kitchen and make dinners for us. I learned to meal plan and cook dinners by trial and error, also by watching my mother, aunties and grandma do it. These women were not only good in the kitchen, but they were also thrifty and savvy. I love to eat and I don’t sweat our food budget too much but I am never wasteful and will go to great lengths to use everything I buy.
Now into adulthood I realize that families do less and less eating and cooking at home. The skills once past on by our families are slowly getting lost. Being busy and overly scheduled is common and the family nightly meal has been lost to evenings spent driving from one activity to another. Our daughter was in competitive gymnastics for years until 8:30pm 3 nights a week, she now has a part-time job, my husband travels for work and I have my coaching gig. Sitting down at home for a meal together isn’t a nightly reality for us, I’m sure just like many of you. But we do make a concerted effort as often as we can we sit down together for a meal. And I make it a priority to cook almost daily whether or not the meal is consumed together as a family.
Cooking for my family is an integral part of me caring for them as a mother and a wife and showing my love. It is also if I am going to be completely honest a way for me to control what I eat and put in my body and that is something that is important to me.
By preparing your food at home, it lets you control the quality and quantity of your food intake better. It becomes easier to support your healthy eating goals. We should all have basic cooking skills, plan what we are going to eat this week and know how to build healthy meals.
Meal planning can vary widely from household to household. And no it shouldn’t always rely on mom to do so. I realize I enjoy cooking a whole lot more than the average person. So I tend to take that on for the family, but it is a choice. Trust me it can be as simple or elaborate as you want or need it to be and everyone can be involved in the process. My good friend shops and makes the menu while her husband carries on the nightly duty of cooking. It works for them. Find what works for you.
Just start by grabbing your day timer, seeing what your week looks like and plugging some meals in that fit into the time you have. I like to start with a pantry, fridge and freezer check to see what I have on hand that could be used. Then I sit and plan the weekly menu.
No time to cook at all on week nights? Spend some time batch cooking on the weekend. Need some help? Look for a meal prep service in your area or delegate some tasks? Tuesday night you can find me coaching until 6:30 and this means you can find Scott (or Olivia) in the kitchen making us dinner! The husband is also very capable of making a Costco run or grilling batches of protein for us. All great time savers. Another big time saver is to double the recipe and freeze half for a dinner another night. Cook once eat twice.
Once the menu is set I make the grocery list. Nothing worse than having to run to the grocery store after a long day of work when you are already too hungry to think straight and make good decisions. You will end up the proud owner of aisle 3 or like I have done before with a freezer full of ice cream. I try whenever possible to get it all done on the weekend and be set for the week. Or better yet, use a grocery service delivery, my sister with 3 young kids swears by it. I still have yet to try this, I truly do hate going grocery shopping, but the control freak in me cannot let go of picking my own apples. Having the right food available to you when you need to eat is one of the biggest thing you can do for yourself.
That’s it, start there, and you will have set the foundation for a successful week. Things may not always go according to plan, but you now have a plan and that alone is more than enough to put you ahead of the masses on the way to reach your health goals. Planning your menu ahead helps relieve stress. You will virtually always get a better final result when planning ahead. No matter what you undertake. Taking the time to plan intentionally gives your brain more time to think and make well-informed decisions.
Planning your menu ahead helps you build better meals to support your health goals and in the end will save you both time and money.
New some inspirations. We share a lot of easy meals throughout the week and every Sunday I like to post my weekly menu. You will see that while I love cooking I tend to be a very practical chef and keep my meals simple and quick to execute.