Ten healthy eating tips for parents this World Health Day

South Africans are all tightening their belts after Pravin Gordhan’s latest budget speech. One-headed households are probably the hardest hit, which is why for World Health Day on 7 April 2014 Nestlé South Africa shares some tips on how to keep healthy eating a priority with a little planning and minimal effort.

“When time and money are two pressure points in a single parent’s life, it’s tempting to take healthy eating off the priority list,” explains Nestlé Wellness Manager Naazneen Khan. “But looking after your health is an essential investment in your future and your children’s future.

“Food preparation can be a source of fun, especially if you plan ahead, get your kids involved and make a game of replicating your favourite restaurant meals at home.”

Here are Naazneen’s ten essential healthy eating tips that will save you time and money:

  1. Superb side dishes: If the protein you want to cook is expensive, buy smaller portions and make sure you get all your nutritional needs with a creamy samp and beans side dish that is high in protein and energy.
  2. Love those leftovers: Plan for deliberate leftovers that will make brilliant additions to the kids’ lunch boxes the next day: bolognaise sauce is a great sandwich topping the next day and leftover pasta is a nice addition to a healthy chickpea and tomato salad. Excess tinned fish can be mixed with mashed white beans to make the batter for quick and easy frikkadels go further.
  3. Full of beans: Remember that adding inexpensive vegetables and legumes (baked beans, lentils, kidney beans and butter beans) to meat-based dishes extends the number of portions and provides energy.
  4. Door-to-door delivery: Most of us buy readymade meals and fast food when we’ve got no food in the cupboard or feel uninspired to cook on the spot. Consider buying your groceries online (many local food retailers are offering this service) and having them delivered. Not only does this focus your shopping list, but it saves you time after work that could be better spent. This saves you petrol costs and helps you prepare more balanced meals.
  5. Visit your local farmers market: Make an outing of visiting your local farmers markets on the weekend. The kids will love the outing, and you’ll be able to shop for fresh produce and good deals while you’re at it. Buy long lasting vegetables like butternut and pumpkin in bulk and freeze seasonal berries and fruits for use in smoothies and desserts later in the year.
  6. DIY sauces are cheaper: The temptation to buy packet sauces is a great one, but they can be more expensive than making a sauce in bulk at home and freezing it in small portions. White sauces freeze very well, as do chicken and vegetable stocks for gravies and marinades.
  7. Skip buying salad dressing:  Instead of buying expensive salad dressing opt for your own quick and easy homemade versions. A dash of lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a refreshing and healthy dressing that is delicious and easy to make as you need it.
  8. Simple ‘one pot’ meals: The fast food temptation is greatest when you’re driving home and dreading making a complicated meal. But don’t forget that there are many quick, nutritious and affordable meal options that will deliver on your whole family’s nutritional requirements. Whip up a boiled egg on a slice of whole wheat toast or a baked potato with tuna and salad.
  9. Replicate your favourite fast food: Try to replicate your children’s favourite fast food meals at home – fried chicken can be done at home using olive oil and skinless chicken breasts and burgers can be made using wholegrain bread, lean mince, fresh salad and low fat cheese.
  10. Recruit your kids to help in the kitchen: Enlist your kids’ help in the cooking process – it’s a wonderful opportunity to chat to them about their school day and chances are they’ll enjoy grating the cheese and peeling the veggies while you chat.
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