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Skip the Takeout: 5 Tips to Simplify Home Cooking

Skip the Takeout: 5 Tips to Simplify Home Cooking

Would you like to do more home cooking? Caitlin Boudreau of Wee Nourish has tips to make preparing healthy meals easier for busy Vancouver moms.

Home Cooking for the Busy Vancouver Mom

home cooking caitlin boudreauIt’s no secret that cooking meals at home is healthier for you and your family and lighter on your wallet. But say that to the mom (or dad) who’s juggling getting the kids to school, then soccer practice or dance lessons, walking the dog, and oh about 100 other things, and you’re likely to get a less than positive response. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional meal on the go or ordering take out. The key is to make it a planned treat, not a panicked, Quick what’s for dinner? Pizza it is! So how does one cook healthy, delicious and simple meals the whole family will love? Just get your personal assistant to do it. Wait, sorry that’s Gwyneth. You on the other hand, a time and cash-strapped mom, can make it happen with these simple strategies.

1. Plan Ahead

You’ve heard it many times before, and it sounds like more work than it is. Grab a pen and paper or your laptop and choose four or five meals you and your family will eat for dinner for the coming week (for some meal ideas, see my tried-and-true recipes below). When I’m feeling ambitious, I alternate a meal with fish, a veggie dish, etc. but this isn’t essential. Then jot down your grocery list and off to the store you go. The beauty of meal planning is it saves you from having to go back to the store every few days, wandering aimlessly through the aisles deciding what to make, which also saves you money.

2. Keep it Simple

I’m quite certain your family doesn’t give out prizes for the fanciest ingredients or best presentation, so don’t try too hard. Simple meals are often the best ones, and save you time in the kitchen and much frustration related to home cooking. If a recipe requires more than 30 minutes of prep time, move on!

3. Make Extra

When preparing any main dish, make at least double so that it can be frozen and served on another occasion. It’s just common sense. Using my advanced math skills (or not) this cuts your meal preparation time in half, as you’re essentially making two meals in one go.

4. Embrace Your Freezer

Okay, maybe don’t literally embrace it (that’s awkward), but do make it your best friend. This takes the strain out of preparing fresh meals every night, and saves you from ordering in when you’re in a pinch. Just remember to transfer a meal from freezer to fridge the night before to allow it to thaw in time.

5. Cut Yourself Some Slack

So you took some initial steps to cook more at home and still ended up ordering takeout. Not a complete fail. Go back to step one, get out that paper and pencil and start your list once again. If a week’s worth of meals is too daunting, try a few days’ worth. The idea is to organize your family’s eating and, hopefully, find some enjoyment in the process.
Need some more inspiration and guidance with home cooking? I’d love to help you out – be in touch!

Meal Ideas

Here are a couple of my family’s favourite dishes (all are baby and older-kid friendly). Just add a side of veggies and you’re all set.

Cheesy Lentil Wedges

Adapted from

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 small onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grated cheese (old cheddar works best)
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp cumin powder
1 squeeze of lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

See Also

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse lentils and add to a pot along with water. Cook lentils till all liquid is absorbed (approximately 20 mins). Fry onions in olive oil until soft. Combine all ingredients and press into an oiled 9” round pan. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until light brown on top. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving.

Turkey Veggie Meatballs

Adapted from

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or grease tray. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Form into 1 inch balls. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm and lightly brown. Serve with pasta.

Owner and Registered Dietitian with Wee Nourish, Caitlin Boudreau, RD, MPH provides individualized nutrition counselling and group workshops to parents and caregivers in Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland. She specializes in prenatal and postpartum nutrition, feeding babies and older children (including picky eaters), and family meal planning support. Catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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