Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Get Comfortable in Your Kitchen

By: Lucy Nelson

Part of living a healthy lifestyle is learning to cook healthy and having fun while doing it. We all break down and buy fast food once and awhile; we didn’t have time to cook, or we’re tired, or we’re bored. Why not try to liven up home cooking and make mealtime less of a chore?

Eat in Season

Eating sustainably can sound intimidating, and it isn’t always practical or available. However, it can be beneficial. When we buy produce that is out of season, it has to be shipped in, and transportation increases prices. That cost comes out of your pocket and out of our environment. Most of the time produce that is in season ends up being less expensive. Another plus is that produce in season tastes better.

A great resource for finding out what is in season is www.sustainabletable.org. Look for the Seasonal Food Guide under eating sustainably. While seasons don’t have to dictate everything you eat, it’s great to make a conscious effort to lean toward seasonal eating. It can also help you add variety to home meals. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine of cooking the same things. We all eat potatoes and carrots, but why not try beets or swiss chard or winter squash?

Start a Herb Garden

Cooking can grow tedious, especially when you can’t think of new ideas. Keeping a small herb garden can inspire you to cook home meals, plus herbs add exciting flavor to any meal. Start with a few of your favorite herbs, and use recycled jars or cans to house them. Each member of the household can have their own to care for, including children, as this is a simple way to help them understand where their food comes from. Some common herbs are basil, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, and cilantro. Peppermint can be used to make a soothing tea, and thyme likes lots of sunshine.
  • Pick out a few used jars or cans. They can be from jelly or beans or anything else. You can even use old baskets or clementine boxes if you want something bigger!
  • Covering the bottom of your jars/cans with rocks before adding soil can help the drainage of water through the mini ecosystem. 
  • Toilet paper is a wonderful and inexpensive seed starter. Place a few seeds in a fold of paper and then plant! 
  • If possible, keep your tiny garden near a window where it can receive plenty of sunlight. 
  • Be careful not to drown your plants by watering them too much. 


Pick Your Prep Day

We all get busy during the week with work, kids, errands, and everything else life throws at us. Cooking meals can take time that we simply don’t have. A great way to cut down on cooking time is prepping your food beforehand. Select a day in your week when you regularly have some available time (maybe an evening for family night or downtime on the weekend) and joyfully protect it on the calendar as prep time in the kitchen. Use this new block of time that you have gifted to yourself to prep food for the entire week. Include your children if you’d like to use prep time as a family activity. Or savor your prep time as a new approach to creative “me time.” Whether you use your prep time as a family activity or a mini, creative departure, keep at bay any thought of unpleasant chore or inconvenience. These things will really save time in the long run:
  • Tear/separate and rinse greens like kale, collards, and swiss chard
  • Cook grains or pasta (these can be the base of all sorts of meals later in the week)
  • Boil eggs (boiled eggs add yummy protein to salads)
  • Cook and store beans
  • Stir up chicken or tuna salad (pack these between slices of bread and you’ve got a quick and delicious lunch)
  • Make a soup (homegrown herbs add unique flavor)
  • Cut up pineapples, mangoes, and melons (lemon juice keeps apples from browning)
  • Place your cut up veggies and fruits in snack size plastic bags and make them easily accessible in the fridge
What strategies do you use to make the time to nourish you or your family?  What are your tips for making meal prep pleasant and fun? 


About the Author: Lucy was born in Western North Carolina. She is a current high school senior with plans for a four-year university. Engaged in a yoga teacher training program, Lucy has become concerned with mental, emotional, and physical health. She hopes to discover a career that involves these concerns.

Lucy became involved in Choosy Kids through a high school project and was inspired by the movement toward healthy living that Choosy encourages. She works with Choosy Kids by writing newsletters encouraging healthy eating and activities.

30 comments :

  1. I was thinking about starting an herb garden with the kids. That is such a great idea.

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  2. Hey Lucy,

    Great advice. I go with the vegetables of the season, not because of cost. When summer is through I am absolutely ready for heavier vegetables, when winter is over I really can't wait for the lighter salads. I try and learn a new recipe ever fortnight, it does not always happen that way.

    Great idea about creating a herb garden and getting everyone involved. I have always found delight in seeing a seed grow into something edible. It really is thrilling. Your right spices from the garden are just wonderful in soups. Thanks for the reminder.

    Rachel.

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  3. I really want to grow an herb garden this summer!

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  4. Starting a herb garden sound like a great idea. If I had time thanks for sharing idea .

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  5. I'm looking forward to including more in-season fruits and veggies in our recipes. I love your ideas!

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  6. I can't wait to start my herb garden. Bring on the warmer weather!!

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  7. An herb garden has been on my to do list for awhile now!!! I just need to actually do it!

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  8. Great ideas! I think growing your own herbs and vegetables is the best way to go. It always inspires me to cook!

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  9. I love the first tip! Eating in season means you get the freshest ingredients as well. I also like the idea of planting your own herbs, that's something I'd like to do soon.

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  10. We're in the process of putting in a veggie and herb garden. I'm so looking forward to it.

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  11. Great tips! Preparing food ahead of time really helps when it comes to eating healthy and not letting food go to waste. I could definitely choose more variety in what I feed my family.

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  12. How nice preparing ahead of time especially when you know our ingredients are fresh and healthy to eat. Yes,I had a little herb garden too for putting into my recipes.

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  13. Great suggestions Lucy. I like the idea of settting aside prep time. I'll need to try that. I also want to plant an herb garden and vegetable garden...I'm looking forward to that. :)

    Great post! Have a great day ladies!

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  14. I really need to make more time to be in the kitchen and cook healthier meals. I think if I picked a prep day that would really help me save time. Thanks!

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  15. I've been waiting for a few months to start an herb garden with my kids. Now the sun is finally shining in our kitchen again we plan to get started.

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  16. My greatest struggle is eating in season. Thank you so much for the resource you included!

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    1. I wasn't finished with my comment, lol...

      Also, I've always wanted to start an herb garden. I've been saving jars without a purpose in mind...you just gave me that purpose. Thanks!

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  17. Great tips shared! I also believe in serving season's favorite to my family and especially they love green vegetables!

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  18. I started growing my herb garden last year and am constantly adding to it as I come across new recipes. I try to create a weekly menu of healthy food so I know ahead of tie what I'll be preparing and what supplies I'll be needing for the week.

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  19. I want to try growing a herb garden this year

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  20. My daughter and I have been wanting to start an herb garden. She has gotten really into growing plants, and we love eating fresh foods. This is a perfect idea.

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  21. We have a garden every couple of years. This year is time for another one. We have herbs, veggies, and fruits. I love being able to just go out and pick something to use for dinner.

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  22. My grandma have a garden and we were so happy and blessed to have healthy veggies and organic.

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  23. Thanks for these tips. Would make my kitchen time even more interesting.

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  24. My oldest works out a lot. He eats a lot of tuna. Swears by it. :)

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  25. Ooh! We plan on planting an herb garden this year!

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  26. I would love to have a little herb garden in the window sill. So cool to be able to use a sprig of whatever right when you need it.

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  27. These are great tips. I really do want to start an herb garden. I bought some seeds to get it going. We'll see...

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  28. A herb garden has been in my bucket of list of things to do this summer. I would definitely make one fore sure! Thanks for sharing!

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  29. I love the idea of growing your own herbs. I also need to have a prep day, so that I don't get so overwhelmed.

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