Preparation is crucial with my way of eating. After years of trying and figuring out stuff, it’s now a state of being. It no longer feels like a task, it comes naturally and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because it is integrated within me, I find it difficult to write something about it that can help you. But I’m going to try. For me it’s not about preparing meals but parts of dishes that can come together in different ways during the week. And in addition to these parts, I always make some snacks, treats that I can easily grab and take with me.
On Friday evening I soak legumes; for example chickpeas and lentils.
Saturday morning I go for my shopping round. I visit the market for all my vegetables, fruits, nuts and olives. Then I visit some specific places for a number of specific products. I go to the places where they have the tastiest version of a certain product. Food is my obsession, that’s why I love to spend my whole day cooking and finding my ingredients. If you want to spend less time getting your ingredients, go to the supermarket.
Here are a few tips for shopping in the supermarket. I try to stay away from the supermarket as much as possible. Most products that you find in the supermarket have a very long list of ingredients and are processed. But when I get something from the supermarket I follow some guidelines;
- Don´t buy products with more than three ingredients you cannot visualize or understand. This may be a bit drastic if you are just starting out with a healthier way of eating. You can always nudge it up to 4 or 5, your choice, but why would you eat stuff that doesn´t contribute to flavor or health?
- Don´t buy products with added sugar. Granted, this guideline clashes with a visit to most supermarkets as they sell very few products that don´t have added sugars. And there is a less hardcore way to at least diminish your added sugar intake. The ingredients listed on the products start with the one of largest amount, which means that if sugar is one of the first ingredients on the list, the product consists of sugar and little else. Start by not buying these products anymore; if ingredient one, two or three is sugar, it stays on the shelf.
I don’t do my shopping on the basis of a shopping list, I go by feel and what looks good. Vegetables catch my attention at the market. Ideally in season and if I see products I am not familiar with I take them home to figure out what to do with them later. I choose fruit that I can easily take with me to work and I can use for compote. I make compote so that I always have something tasty to eat with my coconut yogurt, oats or chia seed mix. Top it off with some nuts and you have a delicious, easy and quick breakfast.
So next part in my preparation compote, and overnight oats. Overnight oats are simple; oats and something wet like yogurt, milk, juice, water, coconut milk. As a basic rule I use one in one and a half; for example, a cup of oats and a cup and a half of coconut milk, (and always a pinch of salt). There are hundreds of variations on overnight oats. You will find a few in my recipes.
Then the legumes I soaked the night before. I cook my legumes with some black pepper and a bay leaf as a base. I also throw in what I have lying around, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint. Anything I can do to give them some extra flavor. When they are cooked I pack a portion. In my case portions of one, are there four people in your household, pack for four. I put those portions in the freezer. You can also do this for a month if you prefer. During the week, on the days I don’t think I have time, (think, because time is in your head ;)) I grab a bag from the freezer, cut up some veggies and stir-fry everything with some spices for a quick and nutritious meal. I use the other part of the legumes in a salad, soup or spread.
Spreads are my jam. Easy to make, and they keep well if you think about the ingredients you use. Vinegar, salt, lemon; anything else acidic will help keep your spread fresher for longer. Two good spreads in the fridge and you can easily flavor any meal. And it can be as easy as throwing a jar of olives, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, some cloves of garlic and some herbs into a food processor and you have a tasty tapenade. When I have some roasted peppers, eggplant or sweet potato lying around, I throw that in too. Spreads are a great way to get rid of your leftovers. Experiment with herbs and spices. You can’t go wrong. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe it’s a little less tasty, but then you’ve learned something, and the chickens will surely enjoy all scraps.
Besides legumes, oats and compote I often make pickles, which are essentially vegetables in salt and/or vinegar to extend the shelf life. When I’m lazy it’s a thinly sliced cucumber put in a water, salt and lemon bath. When I feel inspired I dive into Indian cuisine and spices. What I’m saying is you can make it as easy or complicated as you like, and gradually you develop kitchen qualities. Let go of fear.
When it comes to cooking, or meal prep, people often say “I don’t have time”. As long as you keep telling yourself that, you’ll never have time. If time is your obstacle, start by telling yourself that you do have time. If you look at all the things you have time for, how much of that time is spend on taking care of yourself? Are you and you health not the most important thing? Choose to spend time on your own happiness and health. You have all the time in the world.
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