Healthy eating gives you the energy you need during the day and keeps your body nourished so that it runs at its peak. Preparing balanced meals might sound like a big ask when you’re a busy mom. But once you know which foods give you the nutrients you need, it can be easier to choose good foods and eat well.
For the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, your body needs a wide variety of foods from the five food groups:
- Vegetables – 6 serves a day for men and 5 serves a day for women
- Fruit – 2 serves a day for men and women
- Grain foods – 6 serves a day for men and women
- Protein – 3 serves a day for men and 2½ serves a day for women
- Reduced-fat dairy – 2½ serves a day for men and women.
Plenty of fluids prevent dehydration, which can make you feel even more tired and lethargic. Water is the healthiest, simplest and cheapest source of fluid – 8 cups a day for women and 10 cups for men are recommended.
Alcoholic drinks take fluid out of your system. If you’re drinking alcohol, top up with extra water.
Faster Food Tips For Healthy Eating
It doesn’t take long to make healthy meals and snacks with these ideas:
- Cook some pasta with a vegetable sauce and a salad on the side.
- Scramble, hard-boil or fry eggs and serve with baked beans and wholegrain toast.
- Top pita bread with vegetables and low-fat cheese for an easy pizza.
- Grab fruit, vegetable sticks, cheese, dips and yoghurt for healthy, easy snacks when you’re busy.
- Plan meals that you can eat hot or cold, like frittatas. These meals are very versatile, and you can also pack them into containers for outings.
- If you do run out of ingredients and energy, look for takeaway food that’s still healthy, like a stir-fry with rice and vegetables, sushi or fresh soups.
Pantry Food Ideas For Quick Meals
If you keep your pantry stocked with healthy foods, it’s much easier to cook healthy meals:
- Keep a stock of long-life vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions for stir-fries, curries and casseroles.
- Serve grain foods like wholegrain pasta, brown rice, barley, bulgur, quinoa and wholegrain couscous with your stir-fries, curries and casseroles.
- Add dried foods like pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms to pasta sauces, salads, stir-fries and more.
- Eat almonds, cashews and other nuts (but not salted or fried nuts) as snacks or as part of main meals.
- Use tinned tomatoes, corn and other vegetables, as well as tomato paste, for one-pot dishes like pasta sauces, soups and casseroles.
- Eat canned fish like tuna, salmon and sardines for protein. Tinned beans, lentils and chickpeas are also good sources of protein as well as dietary fiber.
- Add condiments like mustard, soy, chili, pesto or relish to quick snacks for extra flavor.
- Use ready-made stocks to add instant flavor to fast meals.
Healthy Frozen Food Ideas
If you have some healthy basics in the freezer, it can cut down the time you spend on cooking and shopping:
- Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables – they have a lot of nutritional goodness.
- Freeze meat like skinless chicken and fish.
- Grate and freeze cheese for homemade pizzas, pasta bakes and other dishes.
- Cook extra rice and freeze for a quick side dish.
Food preparation ideas
Here are some food preparation tips to save you time and fuss:
- Prepare and cook meals in bulk and freeze them – for example, casseroles and soups.
- Keep leftovers to use as snacks or in toasted sandwiches.
- Save on washing up by cooking one-pot meals like soups, curries and casseroles.
- Buy vegetables and meat already diced.