Preparing your own meals

Why in this day and age of fast food and prepared meals would anyone invest their time and effort in preparing their own food? There are many very good reasons to consider planning and preparing your own weekly menu. For one thing, its healthier!

For another it is cleaner and you know how long it has been kicking around. Making your own food at home saves you a great deal of money and if you make batches ahead of time it can save you time as well.

This is not to mention that you can make your favorite dishes, season your food just the way you like it and cook it just right!

If you are interested in strategic weight loss or body weight gain, preparing your own meals is an imperative. Not only can you prepare the food in a way that is healthy and in the correct portions, you can reduce the stress of “what to eat” and reduce the mistakes of last-minute dining choices. This helps you stay on track with your fitness goals whether they involve losing body fat or gaining lean muscle mass.

Personally, at our house, we rarely eat out, because first of all we like to control what we eat, but also, we have seen that the same dish prepared at a restaurant is essentially double the price over making that dish at home.

Even cheap fast food or prepared foods from the supermarket are not as inexpensive as doing it yourself, especially when you compare the nutritional value of the foods. Eating healthily is one of the least expensive health care options out there.

I have a client who recently observed that her healthy nutritious food is far cheaper than medicine or medical interventions.

Some suggestions for foods that are commonly used to plan sensible meals and are important to have on hand for ready consumption are chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, cooked sweet potatoes, cooked brown rice, raw veggies, salad greens and fruit.

These basic staples can be combined in many different ways literally from soup to stir fries to casseroles. Some fruit that keeps well in the fridge for a week or so are apples and pears. Brown rice and bean dishes are also easy to prepare and keep for a few days in the fridge. By pre-preparing a few dishes you won’t get bored with “leftovers” but rather can combine the basics into a different dish every night.

To make your prepared at-home foods interesting as well as healthier, learn to use spices rather than butter or salt. Many herbs and spices as well as being flavorful contain health-giving nutrients. Experiment with garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, parsley, oregano and so on to reap the tasty and nutritious benefits they have.

Your family can easily get involved with at home healthy eating so that they grow up with valuable skills and knowledge. Even little children can help wash veggies and fruit.

Helping children understand that most Americans are killing themselves with their fork and that the Standard American Diet is SAD is important. Teaching our children that dinner does not have to come from a drive-thru or a packet from the grocery store is a lesson that will create a healthier society and a stronger connection to the idea of family meals as a time to come together and eat healthily.

Many children do not have any connection to their food as a part of their health and also do not have a connection that meal time should be family time. By preparing meals at home and getting the whole family involved you can form these important associations.

The local fresh air farmer’s markets are a good place to start in getting your family healthy and united around the dinner table. Taking the children shopping for fresh wholesome food to prepare at home helps them understand where good food comes from and teaches them it is not from a package or from the drive-thru but from Mother Earth.

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com, www.discoverthis.isagenix.com.

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