Juggling full-time paid work with a busy home life can test my ability to prepare, share and eat tasty, nutritious foods with family and friends. I’ve found it helps to have a few things in place to make it more likely that a fairly balanced family meal is made and served in my kitchen most nights—although frozen pizza sometimes makes an appearance, too!
Here is what works for me:
- Make a plan for the week’s suppers and post it on the fridge door.
- Use the plan when grocery shopping so I have what I need.
- Cooking once and eating twice. I never make just one pan of lasagna, pot of soup or batch of spaghetti sauce. I make two: one to eat and one goes in the freezer for another meal.
- Making cooking go further. I make a big batch of oven roasted veggies that might get served with a piece of BBQ chicken and quinoa, but the leftovers get added to a pasta sauce, top a pizza, or get pureed with milk to make a soup.
Where I fall down is being social around food. The extra shopping, cooking and cleaning needed to host friends for dinner can put me off—and I know my friends feel the same way. To get around it, we’ve hosted “cook together” nights: we agree on a theme and then each family brings whole ingredients to one house to prepare, cook and eat together.
My favourite so far was the pizza party I hosted. I made whole grain pizza dough and salad dressing and others brought a topping for the pizza and a salad item. The result? Pizza with a pesto-infused sauce, topped with cooked red potatoes, chopped mushrooms, peppers, onions and tomatoes, and Parmesan and Havarti cheeses. Paired with a salad of leafy greens, grated beets, berries and toasted nuts served with my favourite blueberry salad dressing. Yum! Beyond the great food, the laughs and shared experience of hanging out and rolling pizza dough, slicing veggies and grating cheese was so much fun … and we all carried the leftovers home!
How about planning a cooking night with your friends? Here’s my pizza dough recipe to get you started:
Homemade Pizza Dough
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup enriched white flour
1 (28 gram) envelope quick rise instant yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
¾ cup hot water (heat for a minute in the microwave until 125 – 130°F)
1 tsp. oil
- In a food processor, mix the flours, yeast, salt and sugar.
- While running the food processor, add the water and oil and blend until a ball is formed. Continue running for one minute to knead the dough.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll out to form one large (12”) pizza crust. Add your favourite sauce and toppings and bake at 450°F for 10 – 12 minutes. This dough recipe can be frozen.
(Source: The Family Table by Marie Breton and Isabelle Emond, 2007.)
About Flo Sheppard
Flo has a dual role with Northern Health—she is the NW population health team lead and a regional population health dietitian with a lead in 0 – 6 nutrition. In the latter role, she is passionate about the value of supporting children to develop eating competence through regular family meals and planned snacks. Working full-time and managing a busy home life of extracurricular and volunteer activities can challenge Flo's commitment and practice of family meals but flexibility, conviction, planning and creativity help!