Monday, December 12, 2011

Always Prepared!

I have a friend, Jo, who lives alone in her very cozy and cute apartment in Ashrafieh. I love hanging out there with her. When I walk into her kitchen, I open the fridge and all I see is water, a bottle of wine, a small Tupperware of food prepared by her mom, an apple maybe and… that’s it! I open the cabinets and I see coffee, sugar, 1 pack of spaghettis and… that’s also it! When I take a look at her delivery menus, all I can see is fast food restaurants and some bakeries.

12% of Lebanese live alone and I can say that most of them are just like Jo. They don’t really fill their kitchens with healthy food or any food at all.

So this article is dedicated to all the Jos out there who would like to take that step and go from an unhealthy kitchen to an “Always prepared” one!

Let’s go to the supermarket…
Your kitchen has to have all the ingredients for breakfast, lunch, dinner and of course snacks.

What can you have for breakfast? A sandwich, some cereals, milk, eggs, etc. So in your fridge, you should always have at least one of each of the following food groups:

Breads: pita bread, toast, baguette, pain de mie.

Proteins: Your fridge should have one pack of labne, halloum, akkawi, double crème or Sylphide etc. Any kind of cheese would do; just try to go for white cheeses as they are less fatty than yellow ones. You can also replace cheese with ham, turkey, salami etc. Be careful! All of them, except turkey of course, are high in fat. So it would be preferable to consume them once a week or once every two weeks. Eggs are also a good idea every once in a while.

Milk: go for low fat milk.

Cereals:  You can have the sugar coated ones; however, it would be much healthier to focus on whole grain cereals such as Fitness and Special K.

For those of you who have a relative who can cook for them, they’ve got the best deal! I know some of you bring a couple of dishes from home and eat out during the rest of the week. Perfect! Let’s say Monday and Tuesday are covered. We still have around 3 days to fill. I know you won’t cook something very complicated or maybe you won’t cook at all. But try to do the effort of having at least one of each of the following food groups in your kitchen:

Carbs: potatoes, pasta, rice, noodles. You can always buy read-to-eat sauces for pasta and prepare a dish in 5 minutes!

Meat, chicken or poultry: Always have steak, kafta, kibbi, chicken breasts or fish filet in your freezer. Tuna can be a healthy and quick lunch for you.

Vegetables: when you eat out all the time, you start craving something fresh. Always be prepared! Have lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, maybe some rocket leaves, purslane, etc. Any type of vegetables would be a good idea. I’m sure you’re thinking about the time it takes to wash them, chop them and make a salad out of them. Well, I have an idea for that. You can always wash them as soon as you come back from the supermarket; you leave them to dry out and you pack them in a Tupperware with a napkin underneath and above them. It is very important for vegetables to be dry or else they will be spoiled very soon.

Cans: peas, corn, etc. are a great way to garnish your meat or chicken. Plus they are nutritive and satiating. 

If you have the ingredients for breakfast and lunch then you definitely have everything you need for dinner. You can have a sandwich and a salad or if you’re too hungry, there’s always that steak you have in the freezer. Add to that, soups for the winter season. I know what you’re thinking, ready to eat soups are a bit high in fat and sodium. Not exactly the best choice, but hey! Better than a burger with fries and a soda!

I’m sure you’re thinking about chips, chocolate bars, nuts, etc. Well, you can have them from time to time. You know that nothing is forbidden! But try to fill most of the space in the cabinet with light biscuits, cereals and cereal bars. Pack your fridge with fruits and yoghurt.
Finally, try to look for places that serve “plat du jour” and keep their menus on top of the fast food ones. Trick your mind into choosing the first menu that your eyes see.  

I know that this is a huge change and it cannot be done overnight. I know it’s easy to talk but a lot harder to do. However, you can always take things one step at a time and think twice before you dial that fast food restaurant’s number!


Maya said...

I just love your blog! This post just answered one of the biggest existential questions i've been thinking about.

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Ben Yates said...

A healthy life starts with a health food, some exercise and little hard work. Food should be little of oil and lots of protein, fiber and necessary aspects. Jo is having a perfect diet and it is the secret to a healthy life. Thanks for sharing the post. Health & Wellness Coach.

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