Secrets to Eating at Home

Let’s talk about some secrets to eating at home more often.  But first…why do we even want to eat at home? Especially when there are so many options available to us?  There are two obvious benefits I will mention but I’m sure we could come up with more. 

First, it just makes sense financially.  It is not sustainable to eat out all the time.  Making food at home costs a fraction of what you would pay for something similar at a restaurant.  Another advantage is the investment you make in your long term health.  When you make things at home you get to choose and know what is in the food you are consuming.  We are all aware that convenience and fast foods are not known for their health promoting abilities.

4 Secrets to eating at home more often

1. Grow your own Food

When you have taken the time to grow your own food you are way more likely to want to use it.  Whether you start with a seed or a tiny plant it often takes many weeks or months of tending before you are able to harvest.  After investing that kind of time you will not want to see the fruit of your labor go to waste.  

If you can’t garden another great option is to join a local CSA (community supported agriculture).  By partnering with a local farm you can get a share regularly and reap the health benefits of fresh garden produce but without all the labor.

When you grow your own food, visit a farmers market, or are part of a CSA you greatly reduce the amount of packaging waste.  Less plastic in the landfill is always a win!

2. Prepare things ahead of time

We are all incredible busy people.  Having some things prepared ahead of time makes eating at home so much more enjoyable!  How often do we open the fridge, think we have nothing to eat, and then decide to go out because starting with nothing seems to difficult.  It is so helpful to have some items on hand ready to go. Here are a list of basics that I find helpful to have on hand to help me pull together quick meals.

Freezer : tortillas, bread, bagels, muffins, scones, quiche crust, cooked meats, cooked beans, broth, homemade hummus, and pesto

Fridge: Fermented foods like kraut, kimchi, pickles; chopped and prepped veggies; salsas, sauces, dips and spreads

Pantry: canned goods like jams, salsa, tomato sauce; freeze dried food such as cooked beans/lentils or spaghetti sauce; and prepped seed crackers or breads

3. Elevate your experience with extras.

What makes the food special when you go out?  Often it is the extra things they include.  Special toppings and sides, for example, and this can be easy to do at home too.  

Sprinkle dried herbs on top.  Maybe a lazy susan or a basket on your table with a variety of table friendly spices.  That way everyone can add what they like.  A little old bay or maybe some everything bagel seasoning.

Take the level up a notch by running to the garden and adding some fresh herbs or edible flowers.  So many herbs come back year after year like chives, sage, oregano, and mint making them well worth planting.

Grow some sprouts or micro greens.  They are easy to grow, add an extra touch, and pack of punch of nutrition at the same time.  

Add a sauce to the side or a drizzle of something on top.  A homemade condiment such as hummus or pesto on the side can be a special treat.  A drizzle of peanut butter on top of a muffin and a sprinkle of hemp seeds takes a homemade banana muffin from good to great.

4. Make your plate pretty.

When you go out they almost always make your food look good.  At home we often think nothing is appealing because we don’t make it so!  Make some art with your food!  We eat first with our eyes.  You might just be eating yogurt but if you put it in a bowl, add your favorite fruits, sprinkle some chia and hemp seeds, add granola and a drizzle of honey you have a cafe worthy meal in front of you. 

Sometimes you need to drink from your favorite mug or on a plate that you need to wash by hand or just arrange your food so that it looks appealing.  Doing the three secrets above will also help make your plate pretty.  When you are eating whole real food and elevating it with extras the result will be a beautiful picture worthy treat you will feel excited to eat.  

For quick meals to go check out this blog post

home grown carrots and smoothie bowl with granola
Continue Reading

Simple & Healthy Homemade Food to Go

freeze dried mangos, apple muffins, carrots and hummus, powerballs

I absolutely love to be at home.  I appreciate daily strolls in the garden picking homegrown produce and time in the kitchen preparing healthy food for my family.  But the reality is whether it be school, work, activities, appointments, or other commitments, there are days and times when we are not able to eat at home.  When that’s the case I like to have simple and healthy homemade food options that we can take with us on the go.

Preparing some healthy homemade food ahead of time is very helpful for those busy days out.  These suggestions would make great snacks and lunches.  They also work well when you are not able to heat up your food.

Healthy Food to Go Stored in the Freezer

The benefit of storing these things in the freezer is that they can be made when you have the time and then stored in the freezer until you need them.

  • Scones…A variety of flavors are fun to have on had both sweet and savory. For example…berry, pumpkin, or maybe a bacon, cheddar, chive combo for a savory option.
  • Muffins and bread….I like to use up things from the garden such as zucchini and berries. Bananas are another great option.
  • Hand pies…Both sweet and savory work well here.
  • Power balls…With just a few ingredients there are endless combinations to create. Chocolate peanut butter, berry, or carrot cake are all delicious.
  • Granola bars…similar ingredients to power balls but in a classic bar shape.
  • Smoothies…blend up your favorite smoothie and store in a freezable cup. It will defrost by lunch time.
  • Bagels…Sourdough or not make a big batch and store in the freezer
  • Sourdough PB & J and other sandwiches…If smuckers can do with with Uncrustables so can we with some homemade bread.
  • Sourdough soft pretzels
  • Pancake/waffle sandwiches…Make a big batch on the weekend. Then slather on peanut butter and nutella, sprinkle with hemp and call it good and store in the freezer.

Food to Go Stored in the Pantry

These foods can be stored in the pantry.  Some will need to be eaten within a few days but others will last for weeks at a time or longer.

  • Crackers…Lots of options such as homemade seed crackers, sourdough, or wheat crackers.
  • Granola…Lasts stored for weeks in the pantry and you can change up ingredients and flavors.
  • Dried fruit…Raisens, craisens, apriocots, whatever you like.
  • Spiced nuts…Great protein snack and wonderful in the fall.
  • Roasted chickpeas…I can think of some sweet and savory flavors that are really good.
  • Freeze dried fruit…A light weight way to carry your fruit.
  • Dehydrated fruit roll up…Replace fruit roll ups with some homemade fruite leather.
  • Popcorn…Make it on the stove stop and then grab and go.
  • Jerkey…A great protein option.
  • Trail-mix…Make your favorite combinations.
  • Freeze dried salsa…Easy to transport in the freeze dried form. Just add water and you have a perfect pair with some chips.
  • Freeze dried guacamole…All you have to add is water and then you have a great dip.
  • Freeze dried hummus…Just like the two above a great dip option just add water.

Healthy Food to Go Stored in the Fridge

These foods work best prepped at the beginning of the week.

  • Fresh veggies and fruit…I like to peel carrots and have other veggies washed and chopped and put into jars. This makes it so much easier to grab last minute.
  • Hummus…This can be frozen in individual containers so its ready for your dipping needs.
  • Nut butters
  • Yogurt….Make a big batch and put it in individual containers. If they are freezer safe this will freeze fine as well. Pairs great with freeze dried berries and granola.
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Meats…extra cooked meat or lunch meat are great to grab.
  • Hard boiled eggs… Nice to eat plain or add to a salad,
  • Fermented veggies…They make great easy additions to lunches.

There are really so many options for healthy whole real food to have on hand. No need to succumb to fast and processed food. With a little planning and forethought simple and healthy homemade food to go is very possible.

freeze dried mangos, apple muffins, carrots and hummus, power balls
Continue Reading

Simple Healthy Meal Prep Cabbage to Enjoy Now and Later

purple cabbage on table

Simple healthy meal prep.  What does that mean and how do you do it?  Don’t get me wrong I love to work in the kitchen but I don’t have all day every day to spend in there.  I have kids, a job, and errands to run that keep me busy just like I’m sure you do too.  

Healthy Meal Prep to Maximize Your Time

Because I have a garden and value eating and feeding my family whole real foods I have to get very intentional and creative. How do I use these fresh ingredients while also maximizing my time?  Have you ever spent time chopping fresh vegetables up?  It can take a while! 

When I am in the kitchen I want to accomplish as much as I can for an upcoming meal and at the same time do whatever I can to help my future self out a bit.  Here are some tips that I keep in mind to help myself out.

Simple Meal Prep Tips

  1. Chop once. Whether you are using a knife or a food processor chop the whole thing.  You can always put extra in the fridge for later and save yourself time.
  2. Use similar ingredients. This makes meal making faster and you can often make very different flavor combinations even using the same basic ingredients.
  3. Make something for now. Think about what is currently pressing…the next meal or maybe an upcoming social event where you need to bring something to share.
  4. Plan for tomorrow. You will feel so thankful when you have food prepped and ready to go for when you are busy and don’t have the time.  This will also save you from last minute decisions made when you’re hangry. No one wants to wind up spending money or eating something that is not healthy just because it was convenient.
  5. Think of the future. Could be for next week, next month or maybe next season.
  6. Double it. If what you make would store well in the freezer make two.  One for now and one for the future when your busy or tired and can’t prepare something.
  7. Maximize your extra time. When I have a few moments to spare but its not quite meal time I will chop and prepare the ingredients so that come meal time I’m a step ahead.  On my day off I will also make things such as tortillas, pie crusts, bread, sauces, etc.  and throw them in the freezer so that I have a nice start or addition to a meal later.  

Healthy Cole Slaw for Now

I grew a beautiful purple cabbage in my garden.  Let me show you my meal prep in action.  I was getting together with friends later in the evening and needing to bring a side dish to share.  My first thought was to make some coleslaw.

A food processor makes shredding cabbage easy.  What goes great in Coleslaw? I grabbed some carrots and shredded those as well.  Finding a few extra things from the garden and the fridge (mayo, plain yogurt, mustard, chives, honey, garlic) I was able to put together a quick and delicious Cole slaw.  

Garden Spring Rolls for Tomorrow

Sundays tend to be prep days for me for the upcoming week.  I work a very long day on Mondays so while I prepped the coleslaw I decided to make some spring rolls that I could quickly and easily eat during my busy day. 

Using swiss chard from the garden as the wrapper helped me make use of even more things in my garden.  I gave the chard a quick dip in boiling water and then added the filling before rolling them up.  You could add anything to these rolls that suits you. 

Shredded carrots and cabbage, some cooked garbanzo beans, chives, and fermented beets are what I had on hand.  I stored them in a container and made a quick peanut sauce (rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey) to dip them in.

When Monday came and I was super busy I was very thankful to have the prepared food on hand.  

Simple Lacto-Fermented Purple Cabbage For Later

I still had more shredded cabbage and carrots left so I decided to ferment them for later.  Lacto-fermented veggies are full of beneficial probiotics not to mention it is a great way to preserve things for later. 

In a bowl I added the carrots and cabbage along with some garlic and chives for a little extra flavor. I then sprinkled with salt.  I transferred the mix to a mason jar and made sure to push it down.  You could use a wooden spoon or the tamper from a blender.  As you push down liquid will rise above the cabbage. 

Once the jar is full I topped with a cabbage leaf to make sure everything stayed below the brine.  Then I placed a weight on top and put on a lid.  A ferment like this will stay on the counter around 3-5 days and then it can be transferred to the fridge.  You could enjoy this as a side dish to a meal such as tacos or on top of avocado toast.

Preparing the cabbage in multiple ways made sure that none of the food that I worked so hard to grow went to waste. Let me know in the comments other tips/tricks you find to be helpful for meal prep.  

If you’re interested in more lacto-fermented foods check out these homemade pickles.

Continue Reading