This is one of the biggest dilemmas of modern fatherhood. It’s not easy to get a balanced dinner at the table directly after a busy day at work; If you are busy with a career or taking care of your family full time, there is always a lot to do. Even if you already know what a healthy meal should look like (a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, carbohydrates, bluefish, dairy), finding the time to make sure the whole family eats as this may seem like an impossible task.
Make a menu and create a shopping list for the week. If you don’t do anything else on the list, be sure to do it, because making a plan is key to healthy eating. In fact, it is almost impossible to meet your healthy eating goals if you don’t have a plan. I like to start thinking about the menu and make my list a couple of days before shopping; If I wait until the last minute, I usually end up with a menu I don’t like or an incomplete shopping list or both.
- Prepare food on the weekend to save time (and stress) during the week.
- Group similar tasks and foods and make enough for two or three meals.
For example, I cut and saute onions and peppers once, then use them for two or three days in tortillas, quiche, pasta, spaghetti sauce or other dishes. You can also save time by cutting salad vegetables for several days (it is much easier to serve a salad on a busy afternoon if the vegetables are ready to eat) and prepare all your fruit for several days to eat or use in the kitchen.
- Cook a large batch of brown rice and freeze a little. Brown rice is healthy and delicious, but it’s definitely not fast food. On many nights, if the choice is between brown rice and instant white rice, instant rice will win! So cook a double or triple batch and freeze a little to use at night when you don’t have 50 minutes to wait for the rice to cook!
- Choose your snacks from the health hall: when you are hungry and on the move, it is very easy to fall short of comfort and take chips or sweets from the vending machines in a hurry.
For a healthy alternative, try looking in the healthy food aisle for bags of nut and seed mixes, or dried fruits. These can be divided into small portions and put into work and school bags or left in the car. If you have time and like to bake, you can try baking some treats using these as ingredients, such as flapjacks and homemade granola bars. These are always appreciated at lunch for children.
- Make a large batch of homemade pizza dough and freeze half. Have you seen pizza dough balls in the grocery store or in your supermarket freezer? If you have a blender with a dough hook or a food processor with a dough blade, you can make the dough in less than 10 minutes. All you need is unbleached and/or whole wheat flour (use a combination of unbleached and white whole wheat), yeast, salt, olive oil and water. I like to let it go up for 30-60 minutes, but some people say it’s not necessary. Having a batch or two of pizza dough in the freezer can save your life on a busy day.
- Make a large pot of spaghetti sauce, use it for two meals, then freeze the rest. Start with quality canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. Add your own vegetables (like some of the onions and peppers that you cut and saute early), meat if your family likes and oregano, basil and/or fresh or dried thyme. A little red wine is a good addition if you have it on hand. Cook to the consistency you want, then serve it with spaghetti one night, use it as pizza sauce another night and freeze the rest for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
- My family loves natural peanut butter that contains only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. The only drawback is that peanut oil floats to the top. So I have to mix it, then refrigerate the peanut butter to keep it mixed. I buy large jars (because my college son eats a lot of peanut butter!) And mixing them well requires a little effort and creates more than a little mess. Then, my husband came up with the idea of mixing two large jars at the same time pouring the peanut butter into a large bowl (a bowl with a nozzle works very well), mixing it with a hand blender and then pouring it back into the jars Peanut butter mixes perfectly and is no more messy than when I try to mix a jar by hand.