*This is a collaborative post
Knowing how to cook yourself a wholesome, tasty and nutritious meal in, in my opinion, pretty important. I’m not exactly Jamie Oliver myself but I do think that the importance of basic cooking skills and a knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods is highlighted more and more in today’s society. Getting the whole family in the kitchen can not only be beneficial to family life in general but can also mean your kids are taught to nourish themselves properly (the occasional microwave meal never did anyone any harm, but it’s probably best not to make these meals habitual). Granted, it can be hard to make every mealtime ‘fun’ by involving the kids in the cooking process (particularly when there’s about a million and one things to do before bedtime and you only have two arms and two hands) but on the odd occasion, you can follow these tips to show the family that you truly are what you eat and that eating healthily can be delicious.
Set a Goal
Having something to work towards often means motivation is higher and so setting a goal is recommended. Whether that’s a weight loss goal (maybe you want to lose a total number of pounds collectively as a family), a goal to eat your five a day every day or a goal to reach 10, 000 steps before 8pm. Write down the goal and stick it on the kitchen wall – maybe plan a fun day out for when the goal is reached.
Mix up meals
Trying to eat five a day everyday doesn’t just have to be meat and pile of veg at every meal, you can incorporate vegetables into all kinds of recipes and even trick the kids into thinking they’re something else! Once you get busy in the kitchen you will see how easy it is to cook with a lot of veg – note that five a day doesn’t just mean fresh veg and you can use tinned, frozen and even dried fruit. Whilst a green spinach smoothie for breakfast might not appeal to your little ones, why not try baking oats, eggs, mashed banana and peanut butter for delicious banana muffins, adding warm chopped apple and apricots to Weetabix or blending frozen fruit with yoghurt for a healthy ice cream alternative. For dinner, why not try a tomato based curry using spices such as Garam Masala, cumin and turmeric and a tin of tomatoes. You can spice the curry up with any veg you like (onions, garlic, fresh chilli, tomatoes and peppers all work really well) and you can fill it out either with meat or chickpeas/cannellini beans. Serve with wholegrains. Need something a little quicker? Replace your usual baked potato with a sweet potato, mash avocado, red onion and tomato to make a quick guacamole and pile it on the top. So tasty. By making your meals exciting and full of flavour, you’ll be showing everyone just how delicious healthy, nutritious eating can be.
Splash out on the Basics
Whilst you don’t need a state of the art Nutri Ninja or an all singing all, all dancing food processor and induction hob, there are a few things that are worth splashing out on to make life easier when it comes to cooking. A slow cooker is a great investment and can be bought second hand if you can’t afford a shiny new one. Simply throw your ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning (great for making stews or even slow cooking meat) and it will be ready by the time everyone is home for tea. In an ideal home, everyone eats dinner around the table together and chats about what they’ve achieved that day – in a realistic home, dinnertimes are just as hectic as the morning rush and with everything going on its usually impossible to sit down and eat together. The slow cooker is great for dishing out a bit at a time as most of them have a ‘warm’ setting to keep the rest heated for any latecomers.
Tidy up your Kitchen
I’m sure many of us would love to totally renovate our kitchen, make it bigger with fancy islands and workspaces so we can cook without struggling for space or working around mess. However, even if you can’t afford to transform your kitchen totally, there are a few changes you can make which will make cooking less of a chore and more therapeutic (maybe!). Firstly, tidy and clear out your draws, find out what cooking utensils you need and bin any you don’t use. Get rid of the 10 year old tea towels you’re hoarding in the draw and the tins that expired in 2015 and start completely from scratch. You might want to think about installing some new lighting as this can make even the smallest of spaces seem bigger. Undercabinet lighting is great for those that do a lot of cooking as it illuminates the work surfaces, not only adding an extra dimension to the room but also making the use of knives/scissors/tin openers a bit safer as you can see exactly what you’re doing.
The sooner people realise that eating healthily doesn’t mean you need a degree in culinary cuisine, the better. I hope my tips have inspired you to get the family in the kitchen to cook quick, fresh and exciting meals - even when you’re a little stretched for time!