In case you missed it, this is a 5-part series for September. Topic 1 was all about simplified surroundings. Today, Part 2, we are covering food!
Here is the schedule for the remaining weeks:
This is a topic I used to “teach” about all the time when I first opened my nutrition business in 2015. I have tons of resources for you here (and I'm even borrowing some from my first program: The Mindfull Makeover).
This was one of the “harder” areas for me to declutter… I'm not sure why?! Did I really need 7 frying pans (2 of which looked like they had been run over by a train) and 4 sets of tablespoons? I mean clearly not, but it took me up until this year to donate or get rid of the excess.
Before we even get to a plan for simple healthy foods, clear out this space. Have breathing room and space. What do you actually use? That is what you need to keep. Not the "rainy day" items.
If you aren't sure what you use, designate a space to put items you actually washed and used within a month or so, and then declutter the remaining products.
Honestly, it feels SO GOOD to have a drawer (I don't even have fancy dividers, it's just a drawer with the tools in it) with about 10 kitchen utensils I can easily see and actually use, vs the 3 can openers, 2 pizza cutters, 4 potato mashers, 2 garlic mashers, etc etc. IT'S TOO MUCH. Keep 1 of each and pass the rest along.
The bonus of doing this in September?
If you actually DO need some need kitchen items, holidays are around the corner! Keep a list to share with someone who may be shopping for you. Amazon Lists are super helpful for this!
Then move on to your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
Oh man, these have been so embarrassing for me over the years! It's crazy what gets stuck in corners and expired like 10 years ago. Pull it ALL out (if you have kids, they will like to stack and play and organize, just keep open boxes away unless you want spilled flour or rice on the floor).
Again, I don't have anything fancy here for organizing, just having LESS and "good" makes it feel way better. If you want to go a step further, challenge yourself not to go to grocery shopping and eat what you have for the month.
Having everything on countertops makes me feel a little suffocated (maybe you like the convenience). Once I had cleaned out the extra (donating the extra crockpot, knives, and appliances), I had some space to store items usually on the countertop which helped me feel even better.
I also went through all my cookbooks and kept my tried and true favorites. I ended up with SO many others through the years! Pass these along to a home that will love them.
KISS in the Kitchen
As I typed this, I realized this is exactly my girlfriend Shannon's blog name - hey mama! Check her out for this very topic! - and while she uses the phrase "Keep it simple, Shannon" - I've always said, "Keep it simple, silly."
This is yet another area we have created the mindset of "perfection" and let that get in the way of actually moving forward. Promise, you do NOT need to have 72 ingredients in every meal or a perfectly laid out meal plan and prep at the beginning of each week to eat simple, well, and healthy food.
Think about Grocery Shopping Differently.
At the beginning of quarantine, I realized how much food we were not eating every week because I was buying SO many different options and trying to prep for an entire week of groceries in one trip.
For me, KISS means purchasing food for 2-3 days at a time vs 7. It may mean an extra stop at the store sometime in the week - usually utilizing store pick-up or instacart - (OR challenging myself to use what we have from pantry/freezer), but I waste less food and money overall.
Another FAVORITE resource here is Cook Once, Eat All Week by Cassy Joy Garcia at Fed + Fit. Recipes are amazing and it makes shopping easy to have the grocery list and do store pick-up (I usually even make it easier by flipping through - if it calls for homemade sauce, I'll find a store option or a whole chicken, I'll just buy a rotisserie. It's the season of life we are in that I don't have as much time in the kitchen, but not letting that stop me from eating well!)
It doesn't have to be fancy.
Meat, starch/carb, veggie for meals. Fruits for snacks, plus healthy fats + seasonings for taste.
That's how I think about meals. If you season well and do not microwave everything, it will taste delicious. I'm going to link to some of our favorite recipes from around the internet at the end of this post.
I also like to have some themes or constants... I usually enjoy leftovers or Balanced Bites or Daily Harvest meals for lunch, Taco Tuesday, Casserole Wednesday, Fun Friday, etc.
Write down 2-3 meals you enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you are just switching over to a "healthier" lifestyle, this is your chance to add simple tweaks.
For example, if breakfast is usually a granola bar and coffee for convenience, try making a smoothie and heat up some protein (sausage, eggs, protein balls) to stabilize your blood sugar. If you get a pan heated, throw butter + scramble 2 eggs in, you can seriously have eggs made in 2 minutes (just keep moving them in the heat and they will cook quickly). Plus, they are packed with nutrition.
If you usually eat a sandwich & chips for lunch, add veggies to the sammie, sub regular mayo for avocado oil mayo or even plain avocado, grab a veggie tray from the store for that side of crunch, adding hummus or tzatziki for dipping. You could even make some veggie chips in an air fryer. Add an apple with nut butter for a snack if needed.
Pasta fan? Swap out the flour noodles for some rice (we like the Jovial brand, just make sure you cook with enough liquid and add some liquid when reheating) and add veggies to your sauces or meals for a boost of nutrition! The No-Boil Pasta bake below is our absolute favorite.
Burger and Fries? We eat a lot of them in the summer. I just go sans bun, d dd some pickle sauerkraut for good gut health and that pickle taste ;), plus fresh-cut potatoes, roasted with lots of Balanced Bites Diner blend. Grab a fresh watermelon for a little sweetness. Not deprived at all and so yummy!
Roast your veggies! Don't microwave them... add healthy fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil) and lots of seasoning to make them delicious. I can stand and eat an entire tray of butternut squash or broccoli before they make it to the table because it's so good! We've also been loving the air fryer for veggies.
Batch Cook! Always make 2-3x what you will need (especially easy for soups, stews, etc). This gives you leftovers for lunches and meals to freeze to grab and thaw on extra busy or overwhelming days and weeks!
Don't change everything at once... unless you must ;)
We sabotage ourselves thinking it all needs to be perfect this week or then it's all for not and end up back where we were. Focus on breakfast, or lunch... whatever feels like it will give you a win and will feel sustainable.
If completely black/white (cough my husband cough), go for it - start fresh... but know yourself better. Pick the approach that will be realistic! I've found working with hundreds of people through the years - most need a gradual approach.
Convenience We Rely On
These are two absolute staples in our home. I usually get 1 box of Balanced Bites Meals for a month and use them for lunchtime for myself or my hubby (code HOLISTICKATE for $15 off your first order). This is a great gift for new mamas who have hands full with a newborn!
I also could not live without my spices. You can find most of the recipes elsewhere, so if budget is a concern just make your own!, but I truly use these for every. single. meal. Trifecta, Bagel, Coffee BBQ, Diner... I mean it's hard to choose favorites!
I've been ordering some of these smoothies, bowls, and flatbreads to have on-hand, too. They've been key on rainy days when mama just doesn't feel like cooking for lunch! I also like the protein balls for snacks or on-the-go (though could easily make my own too!)
Grocery Pick-up + Instacart
I started utilizing these services a couple of years ago when I realized that grocery shopping was indeed something *I* did not need to do for our family. I'm happy to support and pay someone for that time and spend the cost of latte to be with my family more.
We use Thrive Market, an online retailer for organic, non-GMO grocery options. I like to get Murphy's food and a lot of pantry staples!
No, seriously. We have a one near-by and on days/nights I don't want to cook, we grab burrito bowls to go. It's Charlie's favorite (carnitas, specifically).
Easy Clean-up Nights
Not ready for the task of dishes? Paper plates to the rescue! This is what I recommend to new mamas. Environmentally friendly? No, but some seasons have mental health and nutrition higher up the list.
Tried & True Family Favorite Recipes
(There's also a Sloppy Joe Chili in Keto Quickstart, also from Diane Sanfilippo/Balanced Bites, that won our neighborhood chili cookoff!)
Next up: September 15th
Other Posts in the Series: