Most people would probably agree that they want their family to benefit from a healthy diet. But so many of us are overwhelmed when it comes to actually making that happen. How can we have homemade food on the table three times a day when there’s so much else to do?
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to be a superhero, or even a full time homemaker, to make this happen. Simple Eating is the perfect path to good health and lower stress in the kitchen!
What is Simple Eating?
Simple Eating is just like it sounds. Eating simply! In my kitchen, we limit variety, eat seasonally as much as possible, and make from-scratch meals with whole ingredients.
The concept of Simple Eating returns to food in its simpler form. Food in its most natural state will provide the most nutritional benefits and help protect your health from the negative effects of added sugar and preservatives. For us that looks like locally grown produce, meats sourced from local farms, whole (and sometimes fermented) grains, and healthy plant and animal fats.
I used to be quite overweight and addicted to sugar. After recovering from back surgery I decided I needed to make a change. I went on a weight loss plan and lost nearly 50 pounds. But that wasn’t the hardest part. After the weight came off, I had to KEEP it off.
To make my weight loss permanent, I needed a way to combat decision fatigue. By the end of most days I was tired and hungry and making poor decisions. I asked myself how I could make my eating both simpler AND healthier without the use of prepared foods. I needed to make fewer food decisions! Enter Simple Eating.
Simple Meal Planning
This is where it’s really possible to make things simpler by limiting variety. If you can get away with it, try and see how your family likes having the same thing, or one of the same two things, for breakfast every day. Same with lunch.
Once I found a breakfast my kids enjoy (yogurt and sourdough toast with jam) they’ve loved having it every morning. We break up the monotony with an occasional batch of sourdough pancakes when I have too much discard on hand. And that’s it!
For lunch my husband and I often have leftovers from whatever we’ve been having for dinner, but my kids prefer sandwiches. PB&J for my son, who LOVES routine, and grilled cheese for my daughter. She suffers from a mild peanut allergy or you’d better believe they’d be getting the same sandwich to save the extra work!
Check out my post on sourdough sandwich bread to get my bread recipe that we enjoy every day!
For dinner, I highly recommend starting with just five meals that you rotate through regularly. Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed! Pick a chicken dish, a salad dish, a soup dish, a beef dish, and a pork dish – or some such. Give yourself variety within the week, but don’t overcomplicate it.
Check out my post on Common Dinner Meals to get inspiration for your meal planning! Any of these meals can be made with whole ingredients to keep things healthy.
Once you have your five dinner ideas, just rotate through them and don’t give it too much thought. Once that feels easy, feel free to add more.
If you and your family have a lot of meals you enjoy eating together, then of course you should feel free to start with a larger menu to rotate through.
But there is NO REASON you need to be making a different fancy meal every night of the week if that’s not something you enjoy.
Try NOT Meal Planning
Most people I know or have talked to need some kind of plan to be successful with healthy eating. Especially those of us (me!!) who struggle with creativity in the kitchen and have trouble thinking outside the box. But that isn’t everyone.
Ever heard of a capsule wardrobe? The basic concept is that you have a few staple pieces of clothing that can combine in various ways to make a lot of different outfits.
Let’s take that concept and apply it to our eating, shall we? If you have the staple FOODS you enjoy – including meat cuts, herbs and spices, vegetables, fruits, etc – you can combine them together in lots of different ways to create a variety of dishes.
This may be a way to eat simply while enjoying a whole lot more variety! Give this a try if a meal plan DOESN’T feel like a warm, safe hug and instead feels constricting. I can’t say I understand the feeling, but I’ve got your back. 🙂
Simple Grocery Shopping
The good thing about simplifying your food choices is that grocery shopping also gets simpler. If you’re following the capsule meal plan, you’ll always know what ingredients you’re after because they don’t change very much.
If you’re following your Simple Meal Plan, then you’ll have a well curated list of what you need for each week’s meals and you won’t have to guess.
This has the added benefit of reducing decision fatigue. See what I did there?
Oh, and another helpful tip – keep to the perimeter of the grocery store. Most of your whole ingredients (produce, meats, dairy) will be on the outside and you won’t even have to pass those tasty treats that are hard to say no to. (Although you may have to make a planned dash to the middle for dry beans and rice…)
How Do I Prepare Simple Meals?
This will depend some on how you plan to do your meal planning. If you want set meals planned in rotation, I would find simple recipes using whole ingredients to follow.
If you’re wanting to be more creative, then learn which herbs and spices go with which foods. What spices are used in Mexican food? Which herbs go well with chicken? With beef? Which vegetables pair nicely together?
You can find a lot of this information by flipping through recipes or just by using your friendly neighborhood Search Engine. It can help you on your journey to enjoying delicious, simple, healthy meals made right in your own kitchen!
I hope this has been helpful in your quest to make your kitchen life easier. If you have any other thoughts or suggestions for simple, healthy eating, drop me a note in the comments! I can’t wait to hear from you.