To maintain good health we need to solve the nutrition challenges - the constant need to cook, the cost of fabulous ingredients, and the variety needed for a healthy diet. Exercise alone will not be enough. It’s not only about health, the challenge is also about fun.
READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.
I love to eat out. I think it is one of the things that I love about travel, trying different foods and enjoying the restaurants of the world. I love taking food photographs. I have so many memories of wonderful restaurants and incredible taste experiences. I also love nights of not cooking, so eating out solves that problem.
I do love cooking for my family some times; sharing dinner that I have made. I enjoy the community experience of eating together. I do NOT love shopping for food or choosing the meal (the decision making process I find exhausting and overwhelming). It happens that sometimes I am also not a very successful cook (I get distracted).
If you cook well, or love cooking, or have boundless energy, this may not be a dilemma for you.
Nutrition, as a result of challenges (i.e. poor energy, tough budget, incompetence) contributes to poor health. To solve this problem for myself I created some new systems.
My solutions. I adopted an easy nutritious approach to breakfast that includes a protein smoothie most days so that I don’t have to do any preparation and I get off to a good start. Also, if I am very tired, I can have breakfast for dinner (or lunch) - honestly who has not had breakfast for dinner?
Whenever possible, I incorporate a meal kit dinner deal into our weekly grocery bill (meal kits are delivered to your door, with ingredients for you to cook). This isn’t exactly budget priced but it does enable me to cook a family meal that is nutritious and interesting without the decision making, and it is cheaper than a big takeaway order.
I developed a few easy cook meals that I can purchase on automatic pilot when I am very tired. These generally have 3 or 4 ingredients and are quick to make (like crumbed chicken and salad in a wrap).
Finally, for the really quick meals, I opt for a variety of take away foods that are based on fairly good options as stand-ins when I am SUPER tired. I make sure we have a variety of choices in case the options aren’t as well balanced as they could be; this minimizes any potential imbalances. There are some really good fast food options these days so that minimizes the negative of not cooking at home (super great sushi is a favorite).
It can be expensive. It’s expensive to eat healthy at home (and when out). It’s so cheap to eat badly. For about $5 you can buy pasta and some sauce, and cook up a storm. To have vegetables, and some lovely protein like lamb, and then add in something like rice or pasta, it starts to get more expensive (particularly if you are following a recipe). A recipe - that sounds expensive and exhausting.
Cooking at home is good for you. It is good for your health and good for your physical well-being if you cook at home (even if you are not great at it). The easiest way to manage the portions and control the content of what you eat is to eat home-cooked food (that is non-processed food). Therefore, even if we are often tired, the more systems we can put in place to support eating at home, the healthier it will be for our budget and our body.
What does this mean for you? The food that we eat powers our body for the energy we need each day, so it is an investment in our brain and physical function (as well as a joy to our taste buds). You may not always be able to eat the food that you want because it does get very expensive and tiring, but you can mix it up a bit. It’s a matter of balancing the budget and your time to try and eat the best food that you can (affordability and time can be different from week to week).
Try to think beyond the chore of cooking and eating, to enjoy the community of meal times. If you eat alone, don’t put off cooking for yourself, see it as an opportunity to care for yourself and enjoy the experience of cooking a meal in the way that someone might enjoy gardening. Cooking and eating are a tactile and sensory experience that can be enjoyable and fun (think fairy bread for three year olds). Let me know in the comments below about your favourite meal.