Making all of my own meals from scratch makes a lot of sense for me, because I’m a bit of a control freak. That’s only kind of a joke. To be honest, processed foods really freak me out, and the idea of someone who I don’t know putting my meals together in some unknown factory an unknown distance away, makes me feel really insecure and out of control. I prefer to know exactly what’s going in to my meals and to have complete control over the whole process, and even though at one point that was actually more of a problematic compulsion, it’s now become a way for me to ensure the quality of my meals. I look at quality as the entire experience, from the nutrition to the love that goes into each meal. One of the most important aspects of it, is the connection I establish with everything I eat. I either grow the foods, seek them out from local farms, cut and prepare them with my own hands, and get to create meals of beauty and nourishment out of them. I feel like a true food goddess in my kitchen, and for that reason eating whole foods is also a big source of empowerment for me. I like to be with food. I like to smell it as it cooks, and wash that smell from my pores in the shower. I love to cook food for others, and share in the connection that comes from home cooked meals. It’s important to me to engage my senses in the whole process, and it the love and devotion that goes into those meals is truly unparalleled in taste and experience for me.
When you prepare your own foods you increase your sense of independence, and develop knowledge, skills, and confidence to stray from conventional eating and modern food systems. You avoid trips to the grocery store or restaurants, and can save money on processed foods and transportation costs. You can create food and nutrition security at home, and make sure you’re getting the right foods for your needs.
The Meal Plan
A meal plan is going to help you save money and time, improve nutrition, and offer you better organization and ease. When it comes to cooking and eating primarily whole foods, a meal plan can keep you motivated, inspired, and on track.
- How many meals are you planning for?
- How many people are you planning for?
- How many times a week are you able to cook?
- What are your goals/needs in regards to whole food planning?
- What are your favourite foods? Are there any foods you crave?
- Do you have any allergies?
I recommend you develop your meal plan around what you can budget for time so that you know when you can cook larger meals or do prep. Set aside time one or a few days each week to get yourself organized and do as much preparation as you can. Create a ritual/habit around planning, grocery lists, shopping, cooking, etc. If you like to watch movies, listen to podcasts or music, or listen to an audiobook, these are great things you can do while you prep and cook that will also help you increase the enjoyment of prep time. I often mix it up with some squats and dance parties. You can even work with friends for ingredients or meal prep. Remain flexible with your plan and make room for changes or unexpected happenings. I used to get really thrown off when something unexpected would throw off my plan, or if I ran out of something I needed for a meal. After a while you can use your meal plans to look back on and track your eating, as well as to use for future meal planning.
- Choose staples based on your needs, goals, and what’s accessible
- For ease, choose meals that contain similar ingredients for the week
- Focus on nutritious meals free of processed foods
- Pick meals that are easy to prepare and save (soup, sushi rolls, salad dressings, hummus)
- Collect recipes to have available/on hand easily
- Select breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for each day of the week you’re planning for
- Consider your nutrition and health related goals/concerns (if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, and that’s your reason for your meal plan, choose meals that are low in sugar and will assist you in your goals)
Sample 1-Day Plan for Reducing Inflammation
Breakfast – The Green Goddess Smoothie (Spinach, lemon and lime juice, hemp and flax seeds, ginger, cucumber, pineapple, berries)
Lunch – Beet & Sweet Potato Curry (beets, ginger, sweet potato, coconut milk, turmeric, black pepper, black salt, garlic, onion, collard greens on wild rice)
Dinner – Kale salad with walnuts and oyster mushrooms (kale, walnuts, grilled oyster mushrooms, dulse, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, broccoli)
Snack – Hummus with raw vegetables (carrots, celery)
Other Tips and Insights
- Grow your own foods emphasizing a diverse selection of species, in particular from heirloom, non-GMO seeds from local sources
- Preserve food when you can
- Eat seasonally and buy local
- Keep a month’s supply of food in storage
- Buy directly from farmers (cooperatives, local businesses and farms, farmer markets)
- Develop a community. Fund a community garden, kitchen, or education initiative. You can also split costs for and trade seeds as well as your harvest!
Throughout the week, when and where possible, take time to cut up vegetables, make dressings and dips, and get food ready to be cooked. When it’s time to grocery shop, take a look at your plan and try to get it all done in one trip without buying unnecessary items. If you’re into specific processed foods, or theres certain things you know you’re not going to want to make, then just do what makes sense for you. Don’t drive yourself nuts. But make sure that the majority of what you’re eating comes from your own hands.
Staying Motivated & Sourcing Inspiration
Understand the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is derived externally and helps you to take action, whereas inspiration come from within, like the source of your creative vision. Motivation is more of a driving force that comes along with a sense of resistance and feelings of obligation or pressure. Inspiration, on the other hand, is a pulling force that’s associated with excitement and ease, and a natural inclination to move forward. Get clear on why you want to eat whole foods, and stay inspired by getting close to what keeps you feeling driven. I’ve listed a few of my own motivations and sources of inspiration that help me on my own path! Reach out and let me know what you come up with!
- Getting away from consumer culture
- Limiting my effect on the environment
- Saving time and money
- Connecting deeply to Mother Earth
- Developing my intuition around food
- Empowering myself to make choices that are nourishing and create vibrant health
- Trying new things, new foods (we used to do Pizza Mondays, Around the World Tuesdays, etc.)