Simple meal planning and preparation tips help you prepare delicious meals that the family will love, says the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Plan your menus for the week.
This will let you enjoy quick or late meals depending on your family’s activities.
Cruise the grocery store with a list.
This helps you to not load up on unnecessary items and usually saves money by avoiding impulse buying.
Choose seasonal produce and pick the brightest colours.
Buy fruits and vegetables in season to enjoy peak flavour at modest cost. In general, the darker the colour, the higher the nutrients (think bright red peppers or dark green broccoli). Canned fruits and vegetables are an alternative, but be aware of the sugary syrups and higher salt content. Read the ingredients and Nutrition Facts labels to choose canned products that are low in added sugar and salt.
Choose your fats wisely.
The type and amount of fat you eat is important. Choose fewer foods that contain saturated and trans fats, such as butter, cream, fatty meat, fast foods and pastries. Instead, choose healthier unsaturated fats as found in oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Use lower fat cooking methods when preparing meat. Broil or grill meat instead of frying. Baking on a rack in a pan, microwaving and barbecuing are other lower calorie cooking methods. A pan with a rack lets fat drip away from meat, and sharp knives let you remove fat easily and slice meat thinly.
Reduce or eliminate high-fat ingredients in favourite recipes.
Use nonstick pans to cook without added fat. Add tofu, bulgur or brown rice to casseroles to cut down the amount of meat you use. Use smaller amounts of stronger cheese to decrease the amount of milder cheese needed without sacrificing flavour. Chilling soup or stew allows fat to rise to the top and congeal for easy removal.
Kick up flavour with spices and herbs.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are classic herbs to savour. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add new taste to traditional dishes.
Go vegetarian for a night.
Try tofu in a stir-fry or vegetarian chili. Try Indian-style dal (lentils) or marinated bean salads. Use lentils and kidney beans in your favourite soups.
To control portions, think of the “space on your plate.”
A well-balanced plate consists of one-quarter protein (e.g. chicken or fish), one-quarter starch (e.g. rice, pasta or couscous) and one-half vegetables. Add skim milk to drink and fresh fruit for dessert.
Double-check your serving size.
Research shows that people who are presented with large containers of food eat more than those consuming food from small containers. Make this work for you. Eat dinner on a small luncheon plate – your serving will look larger.