There's no doubt that life has changed. Maybe you have less happening in your life and you're struggling to find routine, or maybe you have more on your plate and are having a tough time juggling those responsibilities. Either way, this transition has been a lot to take in for anyone, and as much as we want to create normalcy in our life, we can all admit that a pandemic is simply NOT the norm.
Our habits around eating will also likely take on some change. With finances or sanitary procedures at stores, groceries might be a little more challenging and some of our favourite staples might be sold out. Lack of routine might have us thinking about food less, or being at home all day might have us thinking about food more. Lastly, and possibly even most devastating for some, dining out is limited by closures, changes in finances or lack of convenience.
Everyone's situation is going to be different, but here are 5 general tips to get you more excited about your mealtime.
1) reignite your creativity with a cookbook
Perhaps more difficult than actually making the food itself, is determining what to make (and ensuring all members of the family are also on board. This is when a cookbook can become your greatest ally, and when your creativity, even in the smallest, is revived.
Flip through your favourite cookbook, your favourite chef's social platforms, or a hashtag like #simplemeals on Instagram. You don't have to follow the recipes perfectly, or at all, but seeing various dishes and ingredients can allow you to, literally, spice up your life. Tag or list allllll the dishes that you think might work for you and your family and refer back to them as needed.
2) get ahead of the game
Three weeks ago, we could have stocked our fridge on the same day we realized we needed to, but nowadays grocers are in high demand. Some pick-ups platforms are booking over a week out (!!!) and most require at least a 2-4 day heads up, so it's become apparent that we need to plan ahead. Take a peek through your cookbook (refer to #1) or your list of ideas and determine alllll the ingredients that you need to make your meals for the following week. For the sake of your health, and our community's health, get ahead of the game to limit unnecessary trips to these locations, while maintaining a steady flow of delicious food at home.
If you are looking to support local grocers and farmers at this time, refer to my last blog with details on their offerings.
3) use the pots
I don't mean the pots on your stove top. I am referring to the beautiful creations of crockpots or Instapots that are meant to make our lives easier. I personally have never used an Instapot, but I do know a massive batch of chili can be prepped in less than half an hour in the morning and ready by dinner time, just by tossing all the ingredients in and pressing start on your slow cooker. Pop in seasoned chicken breasts, wings or thighs with veggies and press start. Bring together some taco seasoning and your fajita ingredients (red peppers, onions and protein) in the pot and press start. Or, prep at night for breakfast in the morning: slow cooker overnight oats, hash browns, casseroles and even french toast!
No need to overcomplicate it. Eat simple, balanced meals. Do the best you can do with the resources you have.
4) batch cook some, but not all
If you're looking to cut down the time in your kitchen, but keep meals enticing, I suggest going for a balance between batch cooking and real-time prep. Make some of those above meals in your crockpot, some chia seed puddings for breakfast, a big batch of a grain (rice, quinoa, barley etc), and chop up enough veggies to last as snacks or in meals for at least 3 days - but also give yourself some options for making food based on what you're feeling that day. Maybe have your lunches prepped, but make an elegant breakfast. Have your dinners ready, but make a gourmet snack throughout the day.
Either way, keep your belly full and your options open.
5) small habits go a long way
What are the one or two things that you do daily that carry on energy throughout the day? For some, it's drinking enough water or morning tea. For some, it's a meditation or yoga or journal or walk with their dog or a daily workout. For some, it's getting in their veggies, a juice or breakfast or coffee with a loved one. What are the things that give you momentum in your day?
Whatever it is, you need to promise me that you'll commit to doing those habits. Those habits are what's going to push you to keep moving in a positive direction, day in and day out. As soon as you stop those habits, you begin to feel stagnant and you're left with less energy to maintain all those other healthy behaviours you take part in.
However, disclaimer: We are navigating a serious and tragic pandemic, likely each with a busy mind and scattered emotions, and our expectations should change in the slightest. As much as I encourage you to eat well in this time, I further encourage you to sit with your emotions and let them be as they are. Give yourself a break if your "healthy eating" has taken a slightly different path lately. Find joy in whatever safe manner you can; but coincidentally, the things that give us momentum are often the ones that bring us joy.
Stay healthy friends - in every way,