When did eating get so complicated and expensive?
I have to say that talking to people about “A healthy diet” drives me bananas. The issue has gotten so incredibly and needlessly complicated. People do not know what to eat anymore and this is further complicated by our incredibly busy lifestyles that eat up so much time and leaves us with very little time to prepare and cook food for ourselves and our families. This is clearly proven by the enormous sections in the grocery store devoted to food that is neither fresh nor very nutritious but is ready to be warmed and eaten.
People are limited by money and confused by organic vs. industrialized farming, gluten or no-gluten, carbs, fats, sugars, those pesky nutrition labels and ingredients lists… I can give myself a headache just writing this. At the end of the day if you want to spend less money and eat healthy food, try to find a farmer’s market. If you can grow food or buy food from someone nearby who has grown it, then eat it. I don’t worry too much about organic or not when I am at the farmer’s market. I am getting way more bang for my buck by buying locally. I am supporting a local family and helping the environment all at the same time. Most communities have farmer’s markets or farm stands. Find ones close by and start shopping there first. Then supplement at the grocery store if you need staples like rice, pasta, bread, etc.
The best way to stay healthy and keep the infectious bugs and diseases away from us is to eat fresh foods, drink clean water and get plenty of fresh air. That means eating mostly stuff that looks like it came out of a garden. Here are some tricks to making great homemade meals more easily. It requires some organization though so be warned that this is not a quick fix. It will require you to make this a priority one evening. So, instead of sitting at the computer or T.V. tonight, here is my recipe:
- Make a list of the meals your family loves to eat
- Make a list of the meals you can make without a recipe book
- Make a list of recipes you love and reference the book and page
- Make yourself a 2 or 3 week meal plan. (remember that you need 3 meals a day). You will keep cycling through these meals for the next 6 months to a year. It may sound boring but chances are you will feel great and love it!
- Make a grocery list with each week’s meal plan
- Keep it simple. (Like have eggs for breakfast every work/school day, or oatmeal on those days and eggs on weekends, make soups, salads, sandwiches for lunch)
So, now you are organized. Everyone knows what’s coming down the pipe this week and you will save big bucks by going to the farmer’s market and grocery store only once a week. You will waste less food and you will feel like you gained a ton of time because you don’t have to figure out what the heck you are going to cook every night when you get home. You can just go right into action.
When you get home from the farmer’s market and the store, wash the lettuces, veggies and fruits and set them on a tea-towel to dry a bit. Then store them in the fridge. They will be ready to go when you need them.
Salads are your new best friend. Learn to mix and match different salad greens and most importantly, learn to make your own dressing (oil, vinegar, salt, pepper is a super basic one that you can modify with herbs to taste different every time). You can make a meal out of salads by adding diced cheese, chickpeas, French green lentils (they cook in about 20 minutes, just like rice and quinoa and keep their beautiful little lentil shape and are super tasty), quinoa, rice, apples, dried raisins, dried figs, sprouts, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, sauerkraut, sprouts, meat, etc. Salads are fast, can be done from start to finish in 20 minutes and are super healthy. You can grow salad in pots in sunny windows, backyards, decks… If you don’t grow it, it’s everywhere at the farmer’s market and CHEAP.
Other time and money savers in the kitchen are:
- Make a big pot of rice, quinoa, lentils, or chickpeas once a week and keep it in the fridge after it’s been cooked and cooled. You’ll have it on hand to add to salads or other meals
- Use your crockpot more regularly. If you don’t have a crockpot, do not rush out to buy one, instead you may want to order a WONDERBAG which does the same work but without the need for electricity. It is wonderful and you will be supporting a great cause at the same time (www.wonderbagfoundation.org for every wonderbag bought, one is donated). They can be purchased through Amazon for $75.
- On the weekends, consider making a big pot of soup or stew for lunches and or dinners.
- Buy a whole chicken. Drop it into a big soup pot, cover it with water, add some veggies that may not look so good anymore (but cut off any mould), add 2 Tbsp of vinegar and let it boil, then turn the heat to low and let it simmer all night while you sleep. In the morning you will be delighted by the smell of the broth and I urge to you put some in a cup and drink it right then and there. It is so wonderful for your health. Put a colander on top of another big pot and pour the broth through it, then discard all the veggies but be sure to put all the meat aside to eat during the week. Chicken pot pies, chicken-a-la-king, chicken salad, toasted chicken sandwich, broth for soups (you can easily freeze broth). Yummy!
Jamie Oliver is one of my kitchen heroes. He can be found at www.jamiesfoodrevolution.org. He has some incredible cook books, inlcuding 15 minutes meals and quick meals that can be found at your local library. The recipes are super simple with minimal ingredients and oh, so very tasty! Also, anything from Moosewood recipes is always reliable! Check them out at http://www.moosewoodcooks.com. The feeling you can get from providing excellent, tasty food to your family is priceless. Here’s to peas and carrots! Bon appétit!
Josée Nolet is a registered midwife with Generations Midwifery Care. Learn more about her here.