5 Tips for How to Cook More Healthy Meals at Home
Cooking healthy meals on a consistent basis does not happen in a vacuum. In fact, one of the keys to preparing and enjoying more meals at home starts with getting organized. The payoff for you: high-quality ingredients and meals that taste good and help you better manage your diabetes.
As someone who coaches women and men on how to "take back the kitchen" —while also raising my four children—I know the true value of what getting organized means. Ultimately, it means less stress and time pondering what to cook, fewer trips to the foodstore, less frivolous spending, and way fewer opporunities to resort to take-out, fast food and preprared, proccessed foods. When you're in charge, you control how much sugar, sodium and fat winds up in your food.
Ready to get started? Here are my go-to tips on getting organized with shopping and meal prep:
- Be a list-maker. I cannot stress the importance of noting what you are in need of as soon as you see that you are running low. You can keep a running list on your phone, by your fridge with a magnet or in a little book in your purse. This will reduce the frequency with which you need to go shopping. Lists are also useful when you go to different stores for different items. For example, your supermarket may have the best meats but your farmer’s markets may have the best and least expensive produce. Having separate lists will keep your shopping excursions more organized so you can be in and out of the various shops quickly.
- Schedule your shopping time. Hitting different stores at random times means you spend more money and come home with less of what you need, and more of what you don't (snack bars, anyone?) Also, if you can schedule a time when the kids are not with you, shopping can go a whole lot quicker, and be less stressful. You're also much less likely to make impulse purchases and won't need to give in to urgent kiddie demands for sugary cereals!
- Cozy up to online food shopping. Too busy this week to actually go to a store? No problem! Shopping online is a really efficient way to get what you need, especially without the temptation of things you don’t need! Many online delivery services are available at most supermarkets and for a reasonable fee will deliver or arrange to in-store pick-up.
- Consider a food co-op. An informal co-op may be as simple as telling your friends to alert you when they go to one of your go-to stores so that they can pick up healthy items for you. When you go shopping, you can do the same. I would suggest doing this with only a few friends so that it does not get overwhelming and make sure to set the rules in place early, such as no twelve-packs of cans of black beans that will break your back!
A more organized CSA, also known as a Community Supported Agriculture program may be useful for you. Vegetables and fruit are key to a healthy lifestyle, all the more crucial for the person with diabetes. A CSA ensures that you will be given a delivery of healthy and local produce every week or two weeks, depending on your individual program. Using a CSA has the added bonus of supporting your local farmers and the produce is usually less expensive than the organics in a supermarket. Most CSAs offer a place to pick up or a small fee for delivery to your home.
- Make time for food prep food. As soon as you can after going shopping, store prepped food like cut-up vegetables in clear tupperware in your fridge, with the most perishable food in the front row at eye level. Store grains, legumes and flour in clear storage containers in the pantry. Nuts and seeds can go in the freezer so the oils don’t go bad quickly. Organize your most used cooking tools in your “prime real estate” areas of your kitchen for easy access.
In a nutshell (and nuts are healthy!) the more commmitted we are to planning, prepping and organization, the bigger payoff we'll have with our health.