Looking to eat well? Keep it simple to make it stick
At the start of 2017, many of us vowed that this year would be different. In 2016, we were too busy to grocery shop, our kids turned their nose up at dinner – so we caved and got takeout more than we’d like to admit. But this year it was going to be different. We were going to eat better, take proper care of ourselves and our families, and not fall into the same traps. But chances are old behaviours have already started rearing their heads, prompting many of us to ask: what am I doing wrong?
You’re doing nothing wrong. Contrary to popular belief, it can take anywhere from 18 to over 250 days to form a new habit. Every single one of us operates on a different timeline, which means our environment greatly influences our success. And when it comes to forming new eating habits, what we keep in our kitchen – or put in our pantry – can sway what we actually end up eating.
Not to mention, getting a meal on the table during the week is no easy task. There is a reason why dinnertime has earned the title of the “witching hour.” From picky eaters, to turning into a short-order cook, or being just too tired to shop, these parental pain points have us yearning for a mid-week win. Well, wait no longer. Help is on the way, with the Minute Rice #WeekdayWin Challenge. Need a 15-minute recipe for a real? A meal your picky eater will actually eat? The #WeekdayWin network – a community of moms, foodies and family experts – has the answers. For the next eight weeks, the network will uncover the best, mom-endorsed recipes and meal planning tips to solve the most common pain points for Canadian families. Sourced from their community of moms, our network will help families across Canada to create a new habit with simple meals they can feel good about. After all, who knows better than Mom?
So just what are those dinner time dilemmas for parents?
Shop your pantry for that mid-week win.
Recent Canadian Minute Rice Research confirms that eight-in-ten women (82%) say that when they’re too busy to grocery shop, they rely on a stocked pantry with key items like rice, pasta or olive oil to prepare easy, wholesome meals at home. As much as many of us romanticize the idea of the daily, European-style shop, our busy North-American lives rarely – if ever, during the week – allow for it.
“When you spend as much time online as we do, you can be lured into falsely believing that every meal you make needs to be an original creation, with carefully-sourced ingredients that were bought day-of,” says family food blogger and #WeekdayWin Network member Julie Albert, who co-founded Bite Me More with her sister Lisa Gnat. “We love cooking like that occasionally, but we can’t do that every day. Our pantries are packed with simple basics that we can quickly match up with a few other ingredients to satisfy our families when we have lots of other things going on,” echoes Lisa.
Kid Friendly meals? The struggle is real.
Every parent has experienced it in one form or another – the long-faced, pouty-lipped expression coupled with an “I don’t want to eat this” (or on worse days a “you can’t make me.”) Minute Rice’s study reveals that nearly four-in-ten parents admit to struggling to find kid-friendly meals their family will eat, and 36% avoid dinnertime altercations altogether by preparing a different meal or dinner for their kids than they do for the adults.
If the adults want fish and veggies with rice, it’s easy enough to substitute scrambled eggs in place of fish, or fruit in place of veggies, without having to create a second full meal from scratch. Interestingly also, a person’s willingness to do this may somewhat depend on where they live: the research shows that people in Ontario are almost twice as likely to customize meals for kids as those from the Prairies.
“Between school, work, and activities many parents have limited time with their kids these days,” says Julie. “Many simply don’t want to spend family time fighting over dinner. Pantry ingredients like instant rice allow for easily adaptable meals that every member of the family can enjoy.”
In keeping with these sentiments, the majority of women (79%) feel that meals they can make at home in 15 minutes, with fewer ingredients, make their life easier during the week. And simple ingredients can help solve that dinnertime dilemma.
Wholesome doesn’t have to be pricy.
The study also revealed that 67% of Canadians want their family to eat wholesome and natural foods, but they feel it’s expensive to do so consistently. In reality, it doesn’t have to be. There are many wholesome foods available that don’t cost an arm and a leg – and many of them can live in your cupboard, which can come as a surprise to some Canadians.
For example, half of us don’t know that instant rice is simply rice that’s been partially pre-cooked, a fact men and women equally agree on. One in four of us admit to not knowing what instant rice is at all.
“Rice is a grain we’ve been eating for thousands of years, that is simple, delicious, naturally fat-free, gluten-free, and non-perishable,” says Norma D’Onofrio, Senior Brand Manager, Minute Rice. “Our instant rice is just rice that’s been partially pre-cooked and dried so that people can save time at home. No additives, and it’s just one ingredient. It’s really that simple.”
This means that those who stock their pantry with staples such as instant rice are in a position to save cooking-time, while also eating a wholesome grain that’s been around for ages.
“Once you’ve decided that rice is going to be a part of the family meal, you only have to select a veggie and a protein to complete your plate,” says Lisa. “A simple solution is imagining your meal in terms of ‘thirds’. Pairing a grain, a serving of vegetables and a protein – like beef or chicken – can be your family’s formula to making dinner time easy in three simple steps.”
What’s your #WeekdayWin?
Most Canadians decide what’s for dinner about an hour before they start cooking, and when you’re in the middle of your busy week, it’s fair to assume that creativity is waning. So start your year off right by following #WeekdayWin for the network’s inspiration, tips, and the winning mom-tested recipes tasted and scored by the network of savvy moms and Canadian families. And there’s more. This February 8th, Bite Me More will provide some mid-week inspiration on Facebook Live debut which tackles 15 minute meals (for real). Need further motivation? Visit MinuteRice.ca for versatile, delicious and easy 1-2-3 meal ideas and see the network in action.