If planning homecooked meals has always seemed like a complex task, check out these simple tips for planning and preparing meals that will keep you and your family satisfied throughout the week.
1. Optimize your planning
Plan a menu that spans at least 4 days to give yourself a break for some days. Your menu can even be spread over 7 days for those who need more guidance and structure. 15 to 20 minutes invested at the beginning of the week could save you time and stress when the kids ask you "Mom, Dad, what's for dinner? To reduce time spent in the kitchen, opt for dinners that can easily be used for lunch the next day. For example, a batch of our Fall Vegetable Casserole that will be even better reheated the next day or a roast chicken that can be converted into a chicken sandwich, the options are endless!
2. Find inspiration...
... from recipe books, magazines and websites
Choose two or three cookbooks that you like, that match your cooking skills and preferences. Keep these resources handy and save your favorite websites in a "favorites" tab so you can refer to them as often as possible. This wise choice is likely to motivate you when the time comes, a few days later, to cook that easy and tasty recipe you love so much. Want to try a new recipe that requires extra time and effort? Include it in your planning on a day when you have more time.
... In your local grocery store flyers
The front pages of flyers often feature healthy foods that are minimally or unprocessed such as vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood at discounted prices. Using these foods to create weekly menus is one way to save money. Think of two or three different ways to use these foods throughout the week so you don't get bored too soon. Roasted vegetables are a great example of a dish that can be reused in a variety of ways, such as in our Root Vegetable and Barley Salad.
3. Dare to substitute
Improvise with what you have on hand to substitute a missing ingredient in your recipe. The more you try to cook at home, the more experience you will gain in reproducing the flavours you're looking for in a recipe. Added sugars, fats and acidic ingredients can easily be substituted for each other, as long as they have similar flavors and properties. In other words, don't hesitate to replace avocado oil with olive oil, lemon juice with apple cider vinegar or brown sugar with maple syrup. In short, being creative will become an asset!
Give yourself time to adapt, with practice, you will gain autonomy, which is likely to increase your satisfaction in the kitchen. If you are still afraid to venture into the kitchen, a meeting with a Registered Dietitian could be useful to acquire the necessary basics to prepare healthy meals that will please the whole family.
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