I have a little secret for you today. The key to healthy meals isn’t buying the most expensive organic produce or luxury meal delivery kits. It’s not spending hours prepping to plan your meals for the week or ONLY eating certain foods.
Nope. The key to eating healthy is knowing how to cook in a way that doesn’t drain you. That’s it.
If you can find a cooking style that energizes you instead of feeling like one more chore, I promise eating healthy can feel so much EASIER. And life giving. And sacred, even. For your body & health, yes, but also your mind and spirit, too.
It’s one of the reasons that I love real food, and make it a point to have it be what we eat most of the time around here : because it’s simple & uncomplicated. It’s fresh food, from the earth, and it doesn’t need tons of flavors to cover up the taste or fancy/long-winded techniques to make it taste good. But also because it’s the most efficient way to eat, in order to feel good.
Never thought about it like that? Well, it’s true. Per bite, when you’re eating nutrient dense food, you just get more- more vitamins, more minerals, more nutrients overall. It keeps you full longer. Reduces so many cravings (many of which are created from being nutrient and mineral deficient in the first place). And helps every cell in your body do what it’s meant to do ( giving you better digestion, better energy, better skin, better teeth, less extreme hunger dips, better steadiness and calmness with your moods and emotions, etc), all without weighing it down and making things more sluggish.
It’s a priority in my life to eat it, and to feed my family the same way. Why? Because it’s the one thing that impacts everything else. It’s the one thing that influences how I show up in my life daily.
And when I eat well, I can do everything with more love, good energy, patience and peace. THAT’S why I cook most weeks. Not because I love spending hours in the kitchen (and p.s., I *don’t* spend hours in the kitchen, with the way I cook).
I want to eat the best quality food I can, feel proud of how I’m taking care of myself and my family, and get it all done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE— so I can get back to the things in my life that I truly love and treasure. It’s why I believe:
The trick to a healthy life is knowing how to cook in a way that doesn’t drain you.
And to do that, it has to be simple. It has to be flexible. And it has to be based on what’s going on in your real life that week.
3 things to do before planning out your week’s meals
Before we get into HOW to plan your meals for the week in 10 minutes or less, let’s talk about some things to keep in mind before prepping:
- Take a REALISTIC look at your schedule that week.
Not the idealistic voice in your head that tells you you can totally cook (from scratch, with 10+ ingredients) every single night. That’s just not feasible for most of us, tbh.
So….. how many meals will you realistically be home for, and available to make? Are there any days you might not have the energy because of busy things happening earlier that day? Make note of those.
Then pick a handful of meals that you KNOW you’ll for sure make that week. For most people, planning for 2 to 3 dinners a week gives them enough to be prepared with, and also gives them enough flexibility to move the days around, order out, or change plans if needed (without having to throw food away).
2. Look at the weather that week and think about what your body is wanting & craving.
If you know it’s supposed to be hot and sunny, you probably don’t want to pick a hot soup or something that requires the oven to be on for an hour, ya know?
Our bodies are very in tune with the seasons, so I love to find a batch of recipes every season that sound good, based on the weather. The #cookingclub is built for exactly this… with the ability to search SRH-guaranteed recipes by ingredients you already have in your fridge, new ones for the season, any sensitivities or allergies, type of dish, AND adjust serving sizes so you’re only buying what you need. And, it auto-generates a shopping list for you to double save you time.
Want to see what I mean? Join me next week for a LIVE COOKING CLASS from my kitchen where I show you 4 Summer Meals You Can Prep In 30 Minutes to try at home too! Recipes & Shopping List will be sent out to those on the list (even if you can’t make it live). Grab a spot here!
Try my secret little framework.
In the summer months, I always try to make one make-ahead dish for the week that’s veggie based for quick lunches (like the pesto-kale salad, or photoshoot salad), and marinate one meal for the grill (like my maple hot sauce chicken recipe, with some veggies in the same sauce), as well as make one dressing for the week in the summer because I looove my summer salads.
So, the framework is: one make-ahead dish + one grill-ready dish + one salad dressing. Easy, throw-together pieces, ready to eat or cook in a few minutes.
That way I know I’m covered as I start the week. I always make bigger batches of all of these things so I get leftovers, too. That plus some basic staples that enhance anything as toppings or additions (avocados, organic corn tortillas or chips, salsa, hummus, parmesan, goat or feta cheese, etc).
I’ll be covering this more in the Summer Cooking Class, and showing you exactly what I mean, so make sure you’ve got a spot here.
7 quick tips to plan your meals for the week in less than 10 mins!
Okay, now let’s get into my quick tips for how to make your meals easier than ever to prepare every single week:
- Pick 2-3 meals each week to start. This is a good, approachable number to start with. If you overplan or try to pick 7 different lunches and 7 different dinners for the week, it’s a quick path to overwhelm and all-or-nothing mentality. And, it can lead to wasted food. Underplan = you’re not equipped to make great choices. There is a middle ground! This amount will leave flexibility and allow you to work with leftovers to get the most of your homemade meals.
- Let go of the belief that healthy food has to take a lot of time or expensive ingredients. It’s not true! I’m all about 15 minutes or less & 5 ingredients or less meals. You can truly do SO much with a small assortment of food items AND not a lot of time.
- Don’t be above making meals to freeze (*yup, even for the grill in the summer*)! And using things that help like the instantpot/crockpot (aka, my kitchen besties). They are just as healthy and will help save a lot of time and hassle come dinnertime. I’ve been hard at work adding a whole new section to the #cookingclub on freezer to grill recipes you can easily prep ahead & thaw the morning of.
- Use similar ingredients for recipes for the week. Think through what you need for one dish and how you can use it in others. For example, tacos = cilantro. Look at other cilantro dishes that week. Cabbage Slaw salad. Or cilantro lime sauce to freeze or use as a salad dressing. Or use on top of roasted veggies. Another example, soup = carrots & celery. Roast carrots later as a side, and make tuna salad with the celery.
- Keep a well-stocked pantry. Stock up on and use pantry staples. Most easy, healthy meals are based on the same 15 staples (beans, rice, lentils, chicken stock, corn tortillas, canned tomatoes, olives, etc.). See my full list of pantry, freezer & fridge staples here you can print as a resource.
- Streamline your shopping. Stop re-creating the wheel and don’t overcomplicate it. You CAN reuse the same shopping list every week, and just make small tweaks and additions as needed.
- You don’t need to chop in perfect cubes. Chopping doesn’t need to be completely uniform, play with recipes and swap in diff flavors/ingredients. Remember that food is meant to be ENJOYED. Have fun with it. Don’t let perfection keep you from enjoying it all.