Eating healthy at home can be a challenge…there are so many convenience foods available and excuses that keep people from cooking.  For me, it can be a challenge to cook for myself, buy groceries on a budget, and come up with new ideas for meals.  There are so many days when it would be easier to grab fast food on the go.  These convenient foods are not usually the healthiest, cheapest, and most natural option.  A lot of packaged or fast food is loaded with fat, sodium, and unrecognizable ingredients.

Thankfully, I’ve established some basics for myself so I can whip up something healthy AND easy in the kitchen.  Here is how I eat healthy at home….

1.Keep meals complete – For me this means combining a complex carb, lean protein, and fruits/veggies with the occasional healthy fat in my meals.  This simplifies meal planning in my head and I know I’m getting a good balance of nutrition.  The combination also keeps me full and metabolism moving throughout the day.  An example of my ‘complete’ meal would be a sweet potato (carb), topped with black beans (protein), greek yogurt (more protein, but acts as my sour cream!), and salsa.  On the side, I might have a salad, frozen broccoli, or other veggie.  Dinner done..and I could probably throw that together in 5 minutes!  Delicious, simple, satisfying, and nutritious!  To throw together these meals you should…

2. Know the basics you enjoy and keep them stocked in the kitchen – I always keep parts of my ‘complete’ meals on hand to use in a variety of combos.  Some of my staples…

  • whole grains – oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and quinoa
  • protein – canned beans (rinse before using!), tuna/salmon, frozen shrimp, and eggs – also frozen chicken breasts or fish filets given your eating preferences
  • veggies – tons of frozen veggies! (broccoli, stir fry mixes, chopped spinach, peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, okra…really you can’t go wrong)
  • healthy fats – sliced almonds and chopped walnuts to throw into oatmeal, salads, etc, flax-seed, chia seeds

With these I can whip up meals I know I enjoy like stir fry, oatmeal and eggs, tuna salad, etc.  I have a few staple meals that  I can fall back on to cook in a pinch and throw in fresh ingredients too!

3. Find inspiration from recipes NOT stress and pressure – It is easy to get overwhelmed with cooking…there are so many recipes out there…I find it hard to choose!  Sometimes I eat at friends, see meals at restaurants, or see what other bloggers eat and I put pressure on myself to cook fancier meals.  How ridiculous!  Food and healthy eating should not be about stress and pressure, but rather working with and enjoying what you’ve got.  I’ve decided to accept the fact that pasta with beans, frozen broccoli, and pasta sauce is my idea of a ‘home cooked meal.’  Keep to the basics and when you can, throw in some new recipes.  I usually don’t follow recipes but adjust them to what ingredients I have on hand or how I might enjoy it more.  That being said…

4. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and think outside the box – One of my favorite breakfast meals is oatmeal with frozen spinach mixed in and topped with a fried egg! Gourmet and conventional?  NO.  Delicious and hearty?  YES…well for me at least!  I’ve even added in leftover black beans for more protein, or peas and corn for more veggies.  Some of you might be grimacing at the thought of my savory oats…but that is okay with me.  Breakfast for dinner, leftovers for breakfast and everything in between…the great thing is it is your kitchen, you can cook whats healthy for you and what you love!

I’ll post some more of my easy ‘meals’ later this week!

So how do you find inspiration in the kitchen?  Do you cook?  Have any good recipes to share?