Preparing a meal for family or guests often brings a sense of a c c omp lish ment. But ma k i ng a dinner you’ll be eating alone can seem like a big effort with small reward. Consequently, many of us pay little attention to the foods we prepare for ourselves and how we prepare them. That’s unfortunate, because eating well can bring many rewards– enjoyment, a trim body, good health, and a reduced risk of many diseases.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to cook tasty, nutritious meals for one or two people. This information provides you with timesaving tips, menus and recipes for preparing meals that are delicious, inexpensive and healthful.
Choosing or preparing healthful meals:
1. Eat a grain food (preferably whole grain) at every meal. Grain foods including breads, rice, crackers, pasta, bulgur, tortillas, cereals, and bagels provide valuable energy and many nutrients, and they are naturally low in fat. Choose whole-grain products whenever possible for maximum nutrition and fiber.
2. Eat a protein-rich food at every meal. Protein helps the body repair tissues and fight infections. Protein-rich foods include meat, chicken, fish, peanut butter, cheese, milk, dried peas, beans, and lentils.
3. Eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Fruits and vegetables contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals (naturally-occurring compounds that promote health). Most are also good sources of fiber, helping to maintain regularity and lower the risk for some diseases.
4. When you cook, make extras. Then freeze the leftovers in singleserving containers. Casseroles, meatloaf, soup, and pasta dishes freeze well and taste great reheated. Be sure to heat leftovers until “piping hot” to help ensure food safety.
5. Eat a wide variety of foods each week. Variety helps you get all the essential nutrients and makes eating more fun! Enjoy trying a new fruit, vegetable, or grain product each month.
More tips for easy, healthful eating:
1. Purchase low-fat frozen dinners or entrees. You can quickly create a healthful meal by adding a slice of whole-wheat bread, piece of fresh fruit, and a glass of milk.
2. Buy frozen and canned fruits and vegetables (as well as fresh). The canned and frozen ones still offer good nutrition and are often less expensive than fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re also easy to keep on hand.
3. Drink water or a non-caffeinated, nonalcoholic beverage with every meal and between meals. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day to avoid dehydration and constipation. This is especially important during hot weather. Also, as we get older our sense of thirst diminishes; so don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink up!
4. When you go out to eat, take home whatever you don’t finish. Most restaurant portions are large and can be split into two or three reasonable portions. Just be sure to refrigerate foods within two hours to keep the food safe. Always reheat leftovers thoroughly.
5. Invite a friend or relative to join you for dinner or eat at a senior meal site when possible. Socializing helps you enjoy good food and good health!
Stop by the extension office for more information about health, wellness and nutrition, family financial management, family relationships or leadership and community development information contact Risley at 918-775-4838.