As we all find ourselves spending more hours than we could ever have imagined in the sanctuary of our own homes, this is the perfect time to focus on good food to nourish our bodies, minds and souls.
This is not a time for dieting, cutting back or food restrictions. Instead, with more time on our hands, this is the ideal opportunity to eat more healthily, keep ourselves well nourished and get creative in the kitchen.
Here are some ideas to help make mealtimes an important part of your new daily routine.
- Keep your mealtimes regular. For most of us, our working day has changed beyond recognition, so sticking with regular mealtimes is one way to maintain a daily routine. For some people stress and anxiety can result in a lack of appetite, so sticking to set mealtimes makes it easy to remember to eat. Skipping meals can trigger the stress hormone adrenaline, and we have enough of that coursing through our bodies right now without adding to it, so please do not skip meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with a snack or two will help keep a routine in your day and keep you well nourished.
- Make your mealtimes an event. With cafes and restaurants closed, it’s time to transform your kitchen into the best little restaurant around – even if it’s just spaghetti bolognese for tea! Clear the clutter from your kitchen table, pick a flower from the garden and put it in a vase on the table, and maybe even iron that tablecloth stuck in the back of a cupboard somewhere. Make your dining space a nice place to be. Eating when we feel relaxed helps aid digestion and means we are more likely to absorb as many nutrients as possible from the food we eat.
- Dust off your recipe books, check out some more recipes online or ask family and friends to share their favourite recipe. Then get into the kitchen, stick some tunes on and get creative. A wee disco dance around the kitchen always makes us feel better, doesn’t it (or is that just me)?!
- Use your cooking time as a chance to switch off from what’s going on in the world outside. Switch off the news and put on a podcast or music instead. Make your kitchen your sanctuary.
- Plan ahead. Sit down once a week and plan what you are going to eat over the next seven days. Then use this to make your shopping list. That way you will not buy stuff you are not going to eat, and you will have all the ingredients you need for the recipes you are planning without unnecessarily having to nip out to get food.
- Share your food with family and friends. How about arranging a virtual coffee break or lunch date with the people you love by video messaging. Then sit down at your respective tables and catch up over a cuppa or some good food.
- Cooking is an essential life skill, and this is the perfect opportunity to get the kids into the kitchen. If you have tweens, or teens, why not set a family cooking challenge. Get them to choose their recipe and have a family cook-off!
- Grow something. Use the extra time we have to grow something – it’s a good idea start with salad leaves. They grow really quickly, you can just pick what you need and they taste so much better (and are a lot healthier) than the bagged salads we get in the supermarket.
This blog post first appeared as my column in The Irish News on Saturday 28 March 2020.