family having a healthy meal together

Cooking healthy meals for yourself and your family does not have to be a complicated and painstaking effort that you need to endure day after day. With a little planning and preparation, you can serve up delicious, attractive and nutritious meals at home in a jiffy.

Read on to pick up some great tips to keep healthy home cooking a quick and easy task.

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Make a Commitment

making a commitment to healthy meals

Your family deserves nutritious meals. Leaving your family's health to the hands of the hawker or the restaurant chef is a risky affair. If your motivation is to nourish your family, then the effort you are willing to put in to select, prepare and cook healthier meals is definitely going to help. So, even if you are working, make a commitment to prepare healthy family meals.

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Plan, Plan, Plan

planning for healthy family meals

To make family meal preparation an efficient affair, you need to take a little time out each week to plan your family's menu. Select simple dishes to make up well-balanced meals. If you know that you will be pressed for time, plan to prepare a simple one-dish meal. A healthier fried rice or fried bee hoon, a wholemeal sandwich or a mixed rice dish will be just as nourishing as a three-course meal of rice, vegetables and meat.

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Make a Shopping List

make a shopping list 

Now that you know what you are going to cook, consolidate the shopping list and go shopping. You save time doing the shopping once a week rather than running to the shop every day for the essentials.

Some supermarkets even offer the convenience of shopping online. To save time looking for healthier food items, look for items with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). These products meet the Health Promotion Board's evaluation criteria and are healthier than products in the same category.

At the supermarket, ask the butcher to trim off the visible fat, or skin the poultry and pack it in portions that you will use at each meal. You can also pick up portioned meat and seafood at the chiller counter as well.

Drop some frozen vegetables and healthier canned food into your grocery cart to serve as a quick standby for busy days. You can also buy a peeled onion, minced garlic and ginger to help you skip the preparation steps that usually take a longer time.

There are several brands of pre-packaged herb and spice mixes that make up delicious and traditional dishes so buy some and keep them ready at home. You can save quite a bit of preparation by using these products.

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Prepare Ahead

preparing ahead 

Each homemaker has his or her own unique way to save time and get the cooking done efficiently. Preparing for the week ahead is one way to save time.

Here are some tips to get you up to speed:

  • Peel, slice or mince onions, garlic and ginger. Store prepared herbs in the refrigerator for the week ahead.

  • Marinate the meat, fish or seafood items and chill or freeze.

  • Boil up a large pot of stock with bones and vegetables. Cool, chill, remove the fat and keep it ready to serve as the soup base or to flavour dishes.

  • Pre-cook a few recipes and store in your freezer. Stews and curries do well for this purpose. These ready-prepared dishes are lifesavers for those special days when you may turn up late from work.

  • Defrost the meat you are going to cook the day ahead, by placing it in the lowest level of your refrigerator. Once this step is done, you can cook it up real fast.

  • Use efficient equipment. Turn on the rice cooker as you enter your home after a hard day at work to have hot steaming rice ready in 15 minutes. Prep all items and place in a slow cooker before you leave home in the morning, to come back to a piping hot meal.

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Select Simple Recipes

choosing simple recipes

Pick recipes that are simple and uncomplicated. Simplify the methods of traditional family favourites to make sure that it takes no more than 30 minutes to place a warm meal on the table. For example, serve up steamed fish more often instead of fish curry. Making stir-fried chicken with vegetables takes less time when compared with sweet and sour chicken.

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Use Less Equipment

using less equipment

One of the banes of cooking at home is washing dishes. So, prepare neatly and efficiently, using less equipment. Try cooking up one-dish meals to reduce the number of utensils you need. Roster your family members to help with the washing.

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Make It a Family Affair

a family affair 

Encourage everyone in the family to do something to get the family meal ready. Children can set the table. Adults can take on different chores to shorten the time taken to prepare the meal. While one takes care of the rice and vegetables, the other could attend to the main dishes.

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So Remember

remember healthy eating for family

Make a commitment to cook healthier meals for your family. Support it with planning, shopping and some preparation to ensure that you have everything ready for the week ahead.

Buy food or pack away food in portions that you will use at each meal. Pre-prepare onions, ginger, garlic and even a good tasty stock to save time. Use time-saving equipment such as rice cooker, microwave and pressure cooker to make cooking much faster.

Use simple recipes and work efficiently to save time. Use disposable crockery and cutlery to reduce washing. Encourage the family members to pitch in, it not only makes work lighter, but also helps family bonding.

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Quick and Easy Recipes

Healthier Fried Rice (serves 4)

        Lean minced meat, 200gIngredients:

  • Light soya sauce, 2 tbsp

  • Soya oil, 2 tbsp

  • Garlic paste, 1 tsp

  • Frozen mixed vegetables, 2 cups

  • Cooled rice, 4 cups

  • Eggs, 2, lightly beaten

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Marinate meat with light soya sauce and set aside for ten minutes.In a wok, heat oil, add garlic paste and fry until fragrant.

  • Add marinated meat and cook until done.

  • Add frozen mixed vegetables and cook until dry.

  • Add cooked rice and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Create a little well in the centre and pour in the egg. As the egg sets, scramble it and stir to mix it well with the rice.

  • Serve hot.

Simple Stir-Fried Noodle

Ingredients:

  • Skinless chicken breast, 2, boil, shred

  • Soya oil, 2 tbsp

  • Garlic paste, 1 tbsp

  • Carrot, 1, slice thinly

  • French beans, 100 g, sliced thinly

  • Fish cake, 1, slice

  • Fresh noodles, 4 cups

  • Light soya sauce, 2 tbsp

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a wok, heat oil, add garlic paste and fry until fragrant.

  • Add shredded chicken, fish cake and vegetables. Stir-fry until vegetables are tender but crisp.

  • Add noodle and stir well. Season with light soya sauce, salt and pepper.

  • Stir well and serve hot.


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