You normally choose the drive-thru for lunch.
At least 1 night a week is pizza night.
And hot pockets hold a special place in your heart.
But you know you want to eat healthier.
You just rarely have the time…
or the will…
or the know-how to get started.
In this post, we dive into:
- The benefits of home-cooked meals
- One important concept – “First Base Before the Healthy-Eating Home Run”
- My top-11 pantry staples + a bingo card and recipes!
And if you want to start building meals that are both healthy and satisfying, then be sure to sign up for the Build-a-Meal Workbook.
BENEFITS OF HOME-COOKED MEALS
You understand that what you eat impacts your health and your pocketbook, but how?
By eating home-cooked meals, you’re giving your body more vital nutrients and less processed sugar, carbohydrates, and unpronounceable preservatives.
This, in turn, helps your body fight inflammation.
And if you include fresh fruits and vegetables in your home-cooked meals, you give your body more beneficial bacteria as well.
So, what does this mean for your health?
Considering that inflammation is a major component of disease processes and that the beneficial bacteria in your gut are integral of your immune system, it simply means that home-cooked meals help you to become and stay healthier.
Cooking at home also helps you save money.
Not only are home-cooked meals more affordable than the meals you find at restaurants or deli counters, but you reduce your overall medical costs as you become healthier too.
GETTING TO FIRST BASE BEFORE YOU HIT THE HEALTHY-EATING HOMERUN
“Great! It’s time to toss out every ‘bad’ food in the cabinet and start making Kourtney Kardashian smoothies every day!”
First of all, her smoothie recipe is delicious.
Second, that doesn’t mean you should change EVERYTHING on Day 1.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t acknowledge a few key facts:
- Sugar is addicting (fight that battle slowly over time instead of overnight)
- Sugar alters your taste buds (you’ll think all healthy food sucks and will be less likely to stick with your goals )
- Simple carbs (which turn into sugar) can be addicting too
- Your body is relying on the quick and dirty fuel sources of sugar + simple carbs (which means you’ll crash HARD without them if you aren’t eating enough quality food)
- It will be difficult to tell which changes have the most positive impact if they happen all at once (and in good experiments, you must isolate the variables)
- It’s expensive to buy every gosh darn vegetable in the produce aisle (and potentially wasteful if you don’t eat everything)
- And this approach sets very high expectations for yourself right from the start (which means you’ll be devastated when set-backs happen)
So instead, I suggest (strongly suggest…on-my-hands-and-knees-begging-you suggest) that you make changes slowly and focus on crowding out unhealthy foods first.
In other words, focus on getting to first base right now. Okay?
The home run happens later.
To help you do that, check out the Build-a-Meal Workbook, which gives you a simple approach to integrating more healthy foods into your diet and build healthy meals easily.
MY TOP-11 PANTRY STAPLES
So let’s talk more about “first base”.
Bow chicka wow wow.
Normally I suggest that my clients start by adding more fresh vegetables to their diet.
But since we’re facing a wee little problem thanks to our pal Coronavirus, I thought it would be prudent to help you start your journey in the pantry.
Because pantry staples (dry and canned goods) provide a good bang for your buck in terms of giving you healthy calories for cash.
And because they have a longer shelf-life (meaning you won’t have to go to the grocery store quite as often).
Global pandemic aside, you should strive to make pantry stocking a habit.
Because if you ensure that your pantry is well-stocked, you’ll always have something healthy and filling to eat.
So, what pantry staples do I rely on?
My top-11 pantry staples are:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Garbanzo beans
- White Beans
- Canned Tuna
In good times, these ingredients can be used to to bulk up your recipes or to create tasty sides.
In hard times, meals made primarily with these ingredients can be both healthy and filling.
And if you really want to squeeze these ingredients for all they’re worth, then at no time should you have hard and fast rules about what constitutes “breakfast food” versus “dinner food”.
In other words, it’s okay to be a little rebellious, break the rules, and have beans for breakfast.
In fact, one of my favorite breakfast items is an over-easy egg placed on top of a warm bean salad with salsa. *Nom nom nom. The pleasure.*
Tips for Beans and Lentils
In warmer months, you can make cold bean salads, which work great as is or work well in a wrap with other ingredients.
In cooler months, you can make chillis, one-pan meals, and soups.
And using salsa in any of these meals is a great way to cut prep-time and add flavor as well as a small amount of vegetables.
Tips for Quinoa, Rice, and Oatmeal
Any of these ingredients can be eaten plain, dressed up with seasonings for either a sweet or savory flavor, or added to the same recipes as the beans and lentils.
So, how else can you make these ingredients work for you?
Sign up here to receive the below pantry staple bingo card with recipe ideas included.
Some of my favorite quick recipes for sides or light meals (denoted with an asterisk on the bingo card) are:
- 3-bean chili with salsa: Add black, kidney, and pinto beans to the slow cooker with salsa, onions, and garlic. Cook. Cool. Then serve. Voila.
- Breakfast quinoa: Add freshly chopped peppers and onions to seasoned quinoa and top with an over-easy egg and serve.
- Garbanzo bean sautee: Soak your beans to remove the tummy-irritating skin. Sautee with ghee, salt, pepper, and thyme until mostly cooked. Add chopped cherry tomatoes and spinach and sautee lightly. Top with feta cheese and serve.
- White bean, tuna, and onion salad: Serve this cold bean salad with chopped red onion, tuna, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and EVOO.
- Magic rice: Lightly sautee onion and garlic in oil. Add freshly chopped red, yellow, and orange pepper and cooked until aromatic. Toss in cooked rice to mix and then serve.
Note: These quick recipes might not meet all of your dietary needs without adding additional healthy fats and proteins, but they’re better than the drive-thru in a pinch.
If you want to start building your own meals that are both healthy and satisfying, then be sure to sign up for the Build-a-Meal Workbook. This is a FREE resource based on my own healthy-eating journey that is sure to inspire you with a super simple approach.
Bonus! When you sign up for the workbook, you’ll now receive the Build-a-Meal Wheel – a supplemental printable to use with the workbook that helps you create healthy recipes on the fly.