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.
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
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.