Food seasoning and cooking methods can be very personal. Normally that is not a problem, but it may be when your helper cooks unhealthy food for you and your children.
In this day and age many people worry about eating healthily. In a city like Hong Kong we may often eat outside where we have no control over amounts of salt, oil, sugar and food additives used. So eating a healthy meal at home becomes so much more important. Sounds simple, but it becomes much more complicated when others are cooking our food.
Don’t forget your helper comes from a very different food culture. In the Philippines food is expected to be a combination of sweet, sour and salty. Changing your ways of cooking is actually not easy, but use these 5 solutions and the food on your table may become healthy and delicious!
#1 Your helper cannot cook well if she doesn’t know your expectations.
This may seem straightforward, but you’d be surprised how often employers forget to simply talk to their domestic helper about their preferences. But how can she cook exactly what you want without you telling her? If you tell her to make spaghetti bolognaise she may use a lot of salt and oil simply because she is used to cooking that way. The solution is easy: sit down with your helper and discuss with her the amounts of salt you like in your food. Don’t be condescending, but rather try and make her understand by relating to her.
#2 Show her how you like your dishes by cooking together.
Cooking together is another easy way to show your helper what amounts of oil and salt to use. The best way to do this is by doing things simultaneously. Give her the same ingredients, show her how to cut the vegetables, how to season the meat and how much oil to put into the pan. Don’t rush, but give her the time to absorb everything. You can also ask her for her feedback if your helper is willing to give her own input. After you have cooked the dish together, you can ask her to do it again so that she remembers every step. And of course let her taste the food so that she can taste the difference and see that the food can still be yummy. It may sound very time-consuming, but in the long run it’s worth it.
#3 Don’t expect your helper to remember everything by heart, but use recipes.
So you’ve shown her some tricks and cooked a delicious healthy meal together. But what happens when you are not there to guide her? Make sure you write down a detailed description of your own recipe. Don’t just say “season to taste”, but instead say 1 teaspoon of salt or turn the salt grinder around once. It’s even better if you ask her to write down the recipe herself if you have shown it to her so she can remember it in her own words. If you feel this works well, you can give her more detailed recipes without showing her. And make sure to compliment her when she has followed the recipe well.
#4 Discuss nutrition in an easy and respectful manner.
Don’t do this too early as it may sound condescending, but it’s good to have the discussion at a point where you feel she is starting to get it. Don’t start the conversation in an accusing tone and remember that there are cultural food preferences.
#5 Enroll her in cooking classes specially designed for helpers.
There are quite a few good cooking classes in Hong Kong in case your helper cooks unhealthy food. You can discuss this with her and ask her if she is open to going to cooking class. Do a bit of research and find out what the best cooking classes are in Hong Kong for domestic helpers. It may cost a bit of money, but when it comes to health it’s probably worth it. Ask her how it went to see if the course suits her.