Working women in India today face various challenges when managing their work life and family at the workplace and back home. The sole responsibility to fulfill their work needs and maintain the entire family's health lies with the woman of the house. Managing time and resources in the best possible manner to maintain the health and nutritional needs of all becomes a priority. Meal prep done correctly saves up most of your precious time, money, and energy with the primary purpose of maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
As a Nutritionist, I have developed some simple tips for managing time and maintaining the nutritional requirements below. I hope it helps.
1) Set up a proper kitchen space by doing so, you not only save time, but meal preparation becomes easy and convenient. Have utensils/tools in limited quantities to use what is required. More equipment takes up more space and creates clutter in the kitchen, creating stress while working. Use dedicated spaces/cabinets/shelves for particular items and stack groceries accordingly.
2) Have weekly meal plans in place to help you with grocery shopping. To make healthy, nutritious meals, ensure you have included all the major food groups in the meal plans. Try to create a rotation in meal preps to keep people from getting bored of the same old food. Try new recipes over the weekends so there is no need to go out/order food from outside. Take cues from kids/family members about what they want to eat and prepare accordingly to avoid eating junk food from outside.
3) Create and organize a grocery list online or manually to mark products that need to be re-stocked by the end of the month. Only buy items you are sure of using or lying in cabinets.
Ensure you also use online portals for daily grocery shopping like milk/bread, seasonal vegetables/fruits, etc. One advantage of these websites is that you sometimes buy things at cheaper rates due to offers, saving time and energy.
4) In traditional Indian households, we have seen a lot of meal preparations that have proven to be the best ways to preserve and utilize fresh ingredients for longer durations and that have brilliant medicinal values and uses and also save time. For example, pickling helps keep fruits/vegetables or even meats for months together, which also has immense health benefits.
Gulkhands, jams, murabba, cheeses, fermented foods, etc., take little time for preparation but can be used daily. Parathas and pickles are one example we all are familiar with.
5) Utilise your weekends/weekly offs in preparation for the following week. Clean and chop veggies, green leafy vegetables, etc. that take longer. For example, make bulk ginger-garlic paste and store chopped onions/tomatoes, sorted mint, coriander, greens, etc., that would take added time while cooking. All these can be stored in the refrigerator and can be used instantly. These tiny tricks help save your time during cooking over working days.
6) Also, here, you would avoid instant/ready-to-use/cooked food items that could be healthier. Always use fresh meats/dairy/fruits and vegetables instead of canned/packaged/preserved/processed foods to avoid health complications.
7) Use healthy food options for snacking purposes. Try to include seeds, nuts, dried fruits, yogurts, and fruit juices instead of packed and processed snacks. Try including traditional foods as snacks that are healthier, like chana jor moong jor, roasted peanuts, etc., and make children use them.
8) Try creating your spice mixes. Buy fresh/dry ingredients and further process them at home instead of buying them from stores. This is more economical and also healthier. These things can be done in huge quantities, and such spices last up to six months or more.
9) Waste management: You must help maintain cleanliness- have a maid or do so yourself. Use separate dust bins for wet and dry waste. Make sure the others at home follow the same rules. Keep a separate bowl for kitchen waste while cooking-saves time.
To sum it up, we need to utilize our available resources wisely to achieve optimal health and well-being for our family and maintain our productivity at work with effective meal preparation strategies.