We are a family of nine, and not surprisingly everyone likes to eat. Whereas I used to be a drive thru queen, these days we rarely eat out. That leaves two options – either everyone is one their own, which isn’t practical, or someone has to cook. Fortunately, over the years I have moved from being ambivalent about cooking to finding joy in preparing meals for my family. I collect and adapt recipes like other people collect shoes, and often try new recipes, even if we are having company. (Sometimes with less than stellar results.)
This begs the obvious question. How do you prepare healthy, appealing meals while either losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight? There are several strategies you can use to prepare food for other people or for your own family while watching what you eat. Here are some simple ideas that I used while I was in process of losing 150 pounds and still use today.
Plan your meals– By simply planning what you and/or your family will eat for all meals during the week you will have taken your best first step at controlling your food and calorie intake. I got in the most trouble when I didn’t know what we were having for dinner. That is when we would order pizza, run through a drive thru or pick up something quick to prepare from the grocery store, like fried chicken nuggets, etc. (Here’s a meal planning worksheet you can use)
Adapt your recipes – Are there family favorites you don’t want to kick off the menu? In most cases you don’t have to. By looking at each ingredient you use and changing them or adapting them when necessary you can still enjoy your family’s favorites without blowing your weight loss plan. I’ve put together a tip sheet you can print for adapting recipes. As long as your portion size is appropriate you can eat without guilt.
Involve your family– Family support is one of the greatest gifts. My class participants who have support from family and friends undoubtedly have an easier time than those who don’t. Before changing everything you eat, sit down with the people who you are cooking for and discuss the changes you’d like to make. This could involve the cessation of purchasing high calorie/high sugar snacks, etc. By gathering input from everyone, it will make transitioning from fatty foods to healthier foods easier. This is what I did when I started losing weight. I explained my plan and asked for input. We decided together on a plan of action. We gradually changed some of our snacking habits, choosing to attack one thing at a time rather than changing everything at once. This worked well for us.
Believe me, I cook for a lot of people and I don’t always make everyone happy. (Especially the little guys!) By planning meals, adapting recipes and involving the family I think you will find that you are able to successfully cook meals that everyone appreciates – and usually likes!!
Question: What techniques do you use when cooking for other people? Diane
I came across this great article, Healthy Eating Begins at the Supermarket that you might find interesting.