If you’ve ever had to cook meals for yourself, you may have felt frustrated trying to figure out what to eat, when to eat it, and how to prepare it. You’re doing your best to take care of yourself – add in a job, kids, school work, or caring for a loved one and meal prep turns from a daily task to an overwhelming challenge. This doesn’t even account for unsolicited food advice and diet culture confusing what “taking care of yourself” even means.
Whether you’re in recovery or looking for practical ways to live in food freedom, preparing food for yourself doesn’t need to be nearly as complicated as Pinterest makes it look. Your meal and snack goals don’t need to be #instaworthy to be delicious or nutritious. This also means that just because a recipe is labeled as “healthy” doesn’t mean it is inherently more magically nutritious than any other recipe out there. So we invite you to try to start looking at food as just that: food!
Our ideas of meals and snacks are likely crafted by the culture in which we were raised. Some of the common constructs in the U.S. are the idea of three meals a day, dinner being the largest meal of the day, snacks being a certain size, and the assertion that a meal must contain a meat, starch, and veggie to be “balanced.” This may work for some, but the ultimate food freedom is figuring out what works best for you. Who says you can’t make a meal out of different snacks or eat breakfast for dinner. You rule your food world and you call the shots on what your meals and snacks look like.
There’s so much buzz around eating whole/home-cooked/all-natural that we seem to have forgotten that a lot of us are humans living busy lives and trying to stick to a budget. This reality means that most of us don’t have the time, money, or energy to be planting our own gardens and picking up fresh ingredients daily. In all this “healthy” hullabaloo, we lost the message that canned, frozen, packaged, and convenience foods are still stocked with nutrients. So take a deep breath and know that research is on your side: fresh and frozen are most often comparable choices full of vitamins and minerals. Respect your body, respect your budget, respect your schedule, and grab some convenient staples to make a quick meal or snack at a moment’s notice.
Looking for some guidance on where to start? We put together a list of meals and snacks to help spark your food creativity. There are no magic formulas or ratios here, just some foods we love eating together and meals that come together quickly enough to serve a variety of lifestyles. Enjoy them any time of day and mix, match, and add as you please. Feel free to download a copy of this list at the bottom of the page.