“A family that eats together stays together”. We have something to add on- “A family that cooks together adds more spice to their lives.”
For a weeklong family reunion, my husband and I were away from home. Due to school, the kids didn’t accompany us. I arranged their meals and stocked the kitchen with fresh foods and snacks before I left. I did not have to worry because they are quite good at household chores, but they still struggle with cooking.
A week passed, and when we got back home, I discovered that they had spent the whole week eating ordered food, which didn’t surprise me in the least. The food choices they opted for while I was away seemed to be more important to them than the home-cooked meals that I had always imagined they preferred, which raised my level of concern.
At that point, I determined they needed to be well versed in a fundamental life skill: how to cook. You feel more connected and creative when you become a part of the process. So I decided that for the next few days we would cook meals together, and everyone was deployed with some task. From buying groceries to chopping, cleaning, and cooking. Everyone gets to do everything. In this pursuit, my kids got more keen about nutrition, and they started planning meals and innovative recipes. This was what I wanted. They felt a sense of accomplishment and I-satisfaction.
When families cook together, they have the opportunity to bond, learn from each other, and create lasting memories. Together, along with nutrition, kitchen management, culinary skills, and life philosophies, we learned:
Plan your meals ahead of time: This will help you make sure that you have healthy meals on hand when you’re busy. Make a list of your favorite healthy recipes and make meal prep a weekly habit. Set aside some time each week to prep your meals for the week ahead. This will save you time on busy weeknights.
Use simple recipes: In today’s hectic lifestyle, eating fresh meals is a privilege. There are plenty of delectable and simple dishes out there. Start with recipes that only call for a few basic ingredients and little preparation if you’re short on time. One-pot meals could be your best bet when you’re short on time. It will save you time from making food and washing multiple vessels later. One pot meals like Dal Khichdi, Vegetable Pulav, Daliya or some simple and quick recipes like Dal Rice, Healthy Parathas, Idlis, Dosas and many more can be tried and re-invented.
Manage and Stock groceries: Buy more fresh and unprocessed options. Avoid packed, ultra processed foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Ensure that in a day you eat 6 servings of cereals, 5 servings of protein of your choice, 4 servings of colorful vegetables and fruits, 3 servings of Dairy, 2 servings of fat of your choice, and lastly, 1 handful of nuts of your choice. To learn more about servings, check out this link. While buying, plan your grocery trip ahead:
Vegetables and Fruits: Look for fruits and vegetables that are in season, as they will be fresher and more affordable.
Grains: Some popular Indian grains include rice, wheat, millet, and lentils. You can buy whole grains or processed grains. Whole grains are healthier, but they may take longer to cook. Look for grains that are high in fiber, as this will help you feel full and satisfied.
Protein: Indian cuisine offers a variety of protein options, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. If you don’t eat meat, you can choose from legumes, tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Consider some popular Indian dairy products that include yogurt, paneer, and ghee.
Spices and herbs: Indian cuisine is known for its use of spices and herbs. Some popular Indian spices include turmeric, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and chili powder.
Quick and Indulgent snacking: Eating healthy is a pursuit that requires some effort. Puffed or flaked snacks (poha or murmura) made of rice, wheat, corn, jowar, or makhana can be saviors when hunger strikes. Always carry a small tiffin of these puffed snacks. They require no extra effort and are shelf stable. If you want to go the extra mile, then you can chop some veges and add some nuts to make it more appetizing. An alternative is to make some healthy snacks once and eat them throughout the week. This option includes some traditional and contemporary healthy laddoos, chikkis, bars, etc. Munching on one or two of these snacks will keep you sated and maintain your sugar levels.
Invest in some kitchen gadgets: There are a variety of kitchen gadgets that can help you save time while cooking. For instance, a food processor can help you rapidly chop vegetables, and a rice cooker can quickly prepare rice.
Cooking with family or friends: If you have busy family or friends, you can cook together. This can be a ton of fun as well as an excellent way to save time and money. When you’re having trouble eating well, seek the support of your trusted friends and family.