PELLA, Iowa— School is starting and the dietitians at Pella Regional Health Center are reminding families to keep healthy nutrition and meals in mind, especially with fuller schedules. Many barriers can get in the way of cooking a meal at home such as lack of time, resources, and knowledge.
“We don’t have to be an expert in the kitchen to make simple meals that are quick and healthy,” said Cathy Pollock, Education Dietitian, at Pella Regional. “Planning ahead and preparing ingredients ahead of time are two ways that can help us try and eat healthier during the week.”
Planning Ahead: Take time to plan your meals for the week ahead. Look at what evenings your family will all be at home to enjoy meals together. Is there a night where you may have to eat earlier or later than usual because of schedules? Does it work to make a big meal one night and then have the leftovers another night? Check your pantry to see what ingredients you already have and then make a list of the remaining items that you need.
Ingredient Preparation: Prepare as much as you can beforehand. Cut and cook meat with your favorite seasonings to have on hand for on top of salads or pop into the freezer and pull out for a meal later in the week. The same can be done to your fruits and vegetables; when you get home from the store, wash and cut them up if needed before you put them in the fridge or pantry. Need a quick side? Simply throw a bag of frozen vegetables in the microwave and you have a side in a couple of minutes. Prepare a couple of meals on the weekend or when you have more time and put in the freezer for another day to pull out.
“In our world today, with fast-paced lives, busy work schedules and school activities, drive-through meals and takeout food have become the norm,” said Pollock. “But what impact does this have on our kids, our families and ourselves? The rate of adult and child obesity continues at an alarming rate. As the trend moves toward simplicity and convenience, let’s not overlook that preparing and eating healthy meals together stimulates communication, creates memories and establishes healthy eating behaviors that have a lasting impact.”