Anyone else tired of cooking? I know I sure am. Anyone else running out of easy to prepare, healthy meals? Needing a little inspiration these days? Yes, I love cooking and yes, I love having the ability to be at home and cook for my family regularly…but after nearly a year of preparing every single meal for everyone every single day…even I’m a little bit burned out and feeling less creative in the kitchen.
And in January, everyone starts looking for ways to clean up their diet and lose a pound or two.
So to get my mojo back, I’ve put together a list of ideas for keeping healthy meals on the table — without too much fuss. If food is too difficult to prepare, I find that it doesn’t get cooked, and that’s when we fall into the take out trap.
Here are my ideas…and be sure to share with me your best tips and tricks too!
Start With A Strong Foundation
When we fail to plan, we plan to fail, right?
And keeping a steady stream of easy to prepare healthy meals on the table requires a little bit of planning. Wait until 3:45 to start thinking about dinner and you’ll probablly find yourself on a trip to the drive thru — unless you have a plan in place. With just a little bit of forethought, healthy eating can be something that happens effortlessly.
Some of my favorite ways to make sure I’m creating an environment that allows healthy food to be easy:
- Farm To Home Delivery
Not everywhere has a nearly year-round growing season but even the winter, you can find local farms that will deliver fruit and vegetables to your doorstep (or at least a co-op location nearby that you can pick up from). There are also a growing number of hydroponic farms that grow microgreens and lettuce year-round. A quick search for ‘farm to home delivery near me’ can yield a surprising range of options that could even let you have locally and ethically raised meat, bread, dairy, eggs, coffee, and baked goods delivered regularly alongside your veggies. It’s a great way to eat seasonally and with variety (which is vital for the health of your gut microbiome).
- Cultivate A Strong Community
Now more than ever, it’s important to keep in contact with your friends — even if virtual is our only option right now. What’s one thing we all have in common, no matter what else we believe? We all have to eat. So putting together a virtual recipe sharing group text can be such a fun way to keep in touch and make sure you’re never run out of answers for the big question, “What’s for dinner?”
- Get The Kids Involved
Cooking with kids under foot can be challenging…but rather than send them away to sit in front of their iPad, why not try involving them in the process? Kids are much more likely to develop healthier eating habits and try new foods if they are brought into the kitchen. Even little ones can do age appropriate tasks, like snapping green beans or setting the table. This helps to build their confidence and it also helps for them to see that good meals just don’t appear like magic on the table — mom and dad have to work to make it happen.
- Meal Prep On The Weekends
One sure-fire way to beat the weeknight rush is to avoid it completely. Meal prepping ahead of time takes all the guesswork out the week and gives you an iron-clad insurance policy. Since your food is already cooked and ready to go, just grab and re-heat. You can prep a single large batch of something and divide it into several lunch servings. Or you can also get things ready for a quick cook. For example, you could combine all of your ingredients for a crockpot meal into a ziploc and freeze it — that way, you just dump and walk away when you’re ready to “cook.”
- Develop A Somewhat-Homemade Arsenal
One thing that concerns me is when I see health seekers sabotaged by all-or-nothing, perfectionist thinking. Too much of ‘diet-culture’ has made its way into mainstream thinking, which means we feel shame if our macros aren’t perfect. Or worse, we fall into the trap that if we can’t eat perfect for the day, we may as well dive head first into a bag of chips. And we develop extensive lists of all the “can’t haves” on the way to develop healthier eating habits…The better way to think about your diet is finding what you can ADD to your plate, rather than take away. Focus on getting those veggies in. Try some fermented. Or top them off with a little olive oil. Make an effort to eat something with Omega-3 in it once a day. And yes, this means that you can pick up a rotisserie chicken (even if it’s not free range!) and add it to a soup or a salad.
Need A Little Extra Guidance?
Most of the time, January rolls around and we have a tendency to make BIG plans for the New Year. We vow to change everything all at once and even if we do plan ahead, things tend to go off the rails pretty quickly.
If that’s where you’re at — don’t beat yourself up. It’s all just a part of the yearly cycle.
Here’s the thing though.
With a little bit of guidance, the *right* plan, and a bit of accountability, I’ve seen some pretty miraculous things happen for my patients.
If you’ve decided that 2021 will be your year to thrive, I’d love to help you finally take control of your health and make those big changes you’ve dreamed about — one step at a time.
“Kids who cook are hungrier for healthy food choices ….” 27 Jun. 2012, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120627103352.htm.
“Influences on the Development of Children ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/.