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What is the first thing fired at you when you finally walk into your house after a long stretch at the office? ‘What’s for supper mum?’ Same question in mine, usually followed by ‘Yeeessss’ or ‘Oh Noooo’. Get my drift? Depending what’s on offer. It’s either ‘hurray’ or ‘thumbs down’ for your offering. So how can you solve the suppertime dilemma of picky kids, finicky husbands, the food budget, staying on a healthy diet, and preserving your sanity? Some of the simple tips below worked for me. Try them and suppertime will become less tiresome.
Practicalise Your Healthy Eating Know-how
Keep two ideas in mind every time you prepare supper. Ask yourself: Where can I add fibre, and how can I reduce the fat? The typical African diet is high in fat and still far below the recommended daily fibre, leading to increased risk of some types of cancer and diverticulosis. Everyone knows that fat adds calories, but it is also a leading cause of heart disease. Here are some ways to make supper healthy, delicious, and effortless:
Put a fruit bowl or cut-up fruit on the table while you are cooking dinner. It is a healthier snack than chin-chin and fried plantain chips. Add vegetables wherever you can into beans, potato or yam casseroles, sauces, sandwiches, soups and stews. Use canned, frozen or fresh vegetables; the key is to add them to everything you can. Serve raw vegetables with every meal. Scan the supermarket for fresh produce that requires minimal preparation, such as carrots or mixed green salad in a food pack. Buy reduced-fat products whenever possible. Remove the skin from chicken and save nine grams of fat. Substitute ground turkey or chicken breast for ground beef in pies, rice, and pasta sauce and you will reduce your fat intake by two grams of fat per ounce.
A little preparation helps
After a hectic day at the office, you walk into the house at 6:30 p.m., and in less than an hour you are treated to an amazing aroma of beef stew. All that was required was ten minutes of preparation in the morning before leaving for work (bring out frozen boiled meat out of the freezer, get your stock cubes, spices, oil and mixed peppers ready). When you get home, throw everything into a pot and allow to simmer forty-five minutes. You can do same with fish, chicken or turkey.
Reserve, Freeze, and Use
Are you making chicken stew on a Sunday afternoon? Prepare two batches, and freeze one for another meal. Are you cooking beef casserole for a weekend get-together? Make a triple batch and freeze the extra for later use. It does not take any longer to make a double batch of a casserole, stew or soup, and the delicious results can be easily frozen for a quick meal later in the month. Remember to use the right size container to freeze the extras. Looking forward to fish pepper soup for lunch next week? Freeze it in a lunch-size container. Making an extra bean casserole? Freeze it in a family-size container. Use containers that go from freezer to microwave, oven or gas cooker. Remember to take the frozen meal out of the freezer the night before you plan to serve it. Store in the refrigerator, reheat and eat. Take yesterday's leftover stew and serve it hot on fried rice from a take away restaurant. Use the roast chicken you cooked earlier in the week, shred the leftovers and reheat with any leftover sauce.
Bring Evening Meal Home
More and more of us are buying supper on our way home. Where you stop to pick up supper plays a crucial role in the nutritional quality of the meal. A bag of extra crispy fried chicken may sound good to the kids, but who needs all that fat and sodium? Stop at the supermarket instead, or neighbourhood grocery and you can pick up salad things, vegetables, and prepared frozen chicken that is ready to roast. While the rest of the family sets the table and starts on the salad, you can roast the chicken and then sit down to a pleasant, delicious and healthy meal. Plus you shave 400 calories and almost 40 grams of fat from the meal. The next time you are at the supermarket, take your time to survey all the ready-to-eat food, as well as an inventory of healthy raw foods in the local open market. Look for salads ingredients, fresh produce like chicken or fish that require nothing more than the boiling or grilling, and whole-grain cereals and breads. Now that is what is called takeout!
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