By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
By the time February rolls around, enthusiasm for resolutions all but disappears and winter fatigue sets in. Comfort food starts to look even more comforting. For most of us, that means meals with lots of carbs, fat and salt. Before you give in to the temptation of quick and easy frozen meals, fried chicken from the deli counter or outsourcing your dinner to a restaurant, read on and recommit yourself to a healthy diet! Nutrition is often forgone in favor of convenience to the detriment of all. Planning ahead, shopping the healthy edges of the grocery store and preparing food at home is easier, cheaper and healthier than you think.
Cooking can feel like a competitive sport. Shows like Chopped and Cupcake Wars only add to this feeling. They’re designed for spectators, not home cooks seeking guidance. What started with The French Chef, Julia Child’s iconic and masterful show, has fallen into a litany of increasingly absurd reality shows centered – tangentially – on cooking. Americans now spend only 27 minutes preparing food each day, but happily pass an average of four and a half hours watching television. We’ve got time to cook. It’s unlikely we have the energy to make a four-course meal on a weeknight, but even beginners can make a tasty, healthy meal in about 30 minutes.
Nowhere is impulse shopping more detrimental than at the grocery store. Before heading out, research recipes and plan what you’ll eat each night that week. Make more than you need for a dinner and take leftovers for lunch the next day. An easy way to get started is to list the day and meal, then include ingredients below.
Monday: Chicken, Lentil and Kale Soup
- Olive Oil
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 bunch carrots
- Head of garlic
- 2 32-ounce containers of chicken broth
- Bunch of fresh basil
- Bay leaves
- 2 bunches kale
- 2 pounds chicken breasts
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 bag dry green lentils
If you were to make this particular recipe (and you should – it’s very tasty and only takes about 25 minutes to prepare) you’d spend most of your time shopping along the walls of the grocery store. Modern grocery stores typically keep fresh ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy, out of the aisles. When putting together a week of healthy meals, try to shop primarily on the edges of the store. It’s where food with only one ingredient – the best kind – lives.
Start at the Beginning
American cooking skills have been in decline since World War II. If you’re no expert in the kitchen, don’t worry about it. Most of us aren’t!
Choose recipes suited to beginners. The Food Network website allows you to filter by course, main ingredient, and skill level. Good Eats, Alton Brown’s cooking show, is educational, delving into food history, chemistry and cooking techniques while entertaining. Old episodes are available on Amazon Prime, and useful clips can be found on YouTube.