I am a registered dietitian and I hate cooking. I feel terribly guilty about this. Maybe it's not the actual "act of cooking", it may be the time that it takes me. After working all day, I have about 3 hours before my sweet child goes to bed and if I have to spend more than 20 min preparing a meal, I tend to become resentful about that fact that I have to cook and eat. Crazy? Maybe, but today I'm just laying it all out there for you. I love to eat healthy foods, I would just prefer that someone else make it for me. A couple weeks ago I was complaining about my overwhelm to a a friend and she said, you need to talk to my friend Jen. Jen is an RD and she shows people how to make 10 freezer meals in two hours. I'm sorry, what?!?!? I can have 10 dinners done in 2 hours, so I contacted Jen. I didn't even ask how much it cost, I just said sign me up (thank goodness it didn't break the bank). My life has been changed. I might not be to the point where I LOVE cooking, but I'm getting there and I'm certainly happier, less stressed and most importantly feel like I am making good food and good memories at dinner time.
As a dietitian, meal planning and coming up with healthy dinner ideas is a breeze for me, jealous? You don't have to be, I'll share the secret. There is a very simple formula, ready? Here you go.....
First, I don't believe that salad is ever good enough as the only vegetable unless it has some MAJOR additions to the greens. So, if there is a salad at dinner, that's great, but you need one more veggie. If you opt out on the salad, that's fine, then consider having up to two veggie side dishes.
STEP 1: salad plus veggie or two veggies, such as steamed broccoli, broiled brussels sprouts or asparagus, etc. There are tons of vegetables, pick the ones that taste best to you and your family. The serving for you is the amount that would fit in your hands if you cupped them both together.
Next pick your fiber source (carbohydrate/starch), will it be whole grains, beans, rice, potatoes with skin? Whatever sounds good to your family, just try to keep the carbohydrate source close to nature.
STEP 2: 1/4 of your plate or about 1 c or less of carbohydrate (give or take depending on how active you are) Sweet potatoes, potatoes, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or any ancient grain. Basically anything that grows from the ground would go hear. Low on pantry goods, you could even substitute or add a little fruit here if you wanted.
Finally, you choose if you want to have a protein, this would be fish, chicken, pork, beef, wild game, whatever protein you prefer. The idea with protein is to choose something wild, grass fed. Fish is at the top of the list for anti-inflammatory foods, so that's a good option to choose at least 2 times a week.
STEP 3: Protein is a side dish. You didn't know that did you? You only need about 4-6oz here depending on your size. Your palm of your hand and thickness of your pinky is a good reference. If you are female, 3-5oz is likely your portion, male 4-6 oz is likely your portion, if weight loss or maintenance is your goal. This is a general statement, therefore it is not individualized to you personally, there are likely exceptions to this rule.
The last ingredient in this meal is permission to enjoy it and not feel guilty. If you follow this formula, you can choose any food that is enjoyable to you and your family and still maintain your weight, your health, and not be deprived. I constantly hear people judging and "shoulding" themselves. Stop. Own what you eat and enjoy it. Be mindful of your choices, yet enjoy the experience of eating. If you put a little butter on something, acknowledge the flavor and pleasure you get from it, don't feel guilt about it (unless you eat the whole stick, then we should chat). Somehow, we always come back to mindfulness.
So today, I am committing to be more mindful about the experiences I create for my family around food. I want dinner to be enjoyable, not rushed, and memorable because of the AMAZING food I am making for them. Hopefully this formula will help get you on track with meal planning for you and your family. Because I am now a freezer meal fiend, check out my Healthy Solutions with Angela facebook page to get more info about my upcoming challenge around family friendly freezer meals, or just contact me!