Just turn on the TV or listen to the radio and you will hear commercials telling you to put down your knife. They go on with advice about your screaming kids needing to eat now and why should they not have to wait for you to cook dinner.
The message is clear: Don’t bother yourself with cooking when you can buy it all prepared and have a happy, calm family.
Your nutritious goodies from your kitchen are being undervalued. Yes, you are busy and parents today are juggling many hats but food preparation need not be drudgery or a punishment for you. Plus it’s a key skill to teach youngsters for both their future health and independence.
It’s March and that means Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month. The theme of Simply Cook and Enjoy can be a reality with a little planning and organization. But don’t keep reinventing the wheel. Keep your menus, grocery lists and schedules on your computer.
Here are some tips from the Dietitians of Canada to get you started.
Here’s an example of what you can make when you’re organized. Whip up a batch of these meatballs and put them in the freezer. You can then take out as many as you require. Need a little protein to make a bowl of leftover vegetable soup a complete meal? Just pop a few into the pot.
Or while the meatballs are cooking, you can cook up a sauce and then freeze them altogether. Alternatively you can use these right away and add them to a pasta sauce for dinner. There are indeed a great number of possibilities.
Because they’re baked, they also don’t require as much attention while they cook. Another bonus of baking versus frying: the fat content is slashed. They’re also great if you are entertaining and want to get a jump on the food prep.
Mini Freezer Meatballs
2 pounds (1 kg) lean ground beef
3 large eggs, beaten slightly
1 cup (250 mL) fresh whole grain bread crumbs (about 4-5 slices bread)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) ketchup
1/8 tsp (1 mL) salt, optional
1/4 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 500°F (200°C). Prepare a large shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
In large bowl, mix together all the ingredients; shape into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Place meatballs in baking pan without allowing them to touch each other. If pan is not large enough, they should be cooked in two batches with fresh parchment paper being used for each batch.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until meatballs are browned and no longer pink in the centre. Remove from pan and serve or immediately cool in refrigerator and then freeze.
Makes 48 meatballs.
Nutrition information per serving
• Calories: 45
• Protein: 5 grams
• Fat: 2 grams
• Saturated fat: 1 gram
• Carbohydrate: 2 grams
• Dietary fibre: less than 1 g fibre
• Sodium: 50 milligrams
© Rosie Schwartz