Can the take-out trap really be avoided??
We have all fallen into it - that unexpected pit of “hold on I had to work late and now I’m hangry and my fridge only contains a bag of wilted spinach and some jelly…”
Is it even actually possible to be organized and motivated enough to put a healthy meal on the table for yourself (much less your family) more days out of the week than you order food? And would it really enhance your life if you did?
Yes. Yes it is. And yes it would.
This is why: if you have already conquered the question “what is for dinner”, then you have the time and brain-space to be create, care, and accomplish in all the other areas of your life. The time and energy that you spend trying to sufficiently answer this daily question can be directed elsewhere.
I think why we fall into the take out trap to begin with is that we think that outsourcing the dinner is a sufficient enough answer, and that delegating this task (if you will) will make our lives easier and more enjoyable. So we just “pick up something” on the way home, order in Thai food (even though last time it made you feel super gross), or end up ordering pizza again.
I am convinced you that cooking a delicious meal for yourself is faster, more enjoyable, much less costly, and much more nutritious than it is to delegate dinner.
And I love helping people discover this to be true.
#1 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP
Establish a repertoire of healthy, easy, and amazing recipes that take less time to cook than it does for the delivery guy to arrive.
Salmon with Zucchini Ribbons? 20 minutes. Superfood Granola? 25 minutes (and then you have breakfast/snacks made for the whole week!) Spaghetti Squash with Vegetarian Bolognese? Yep. 25 minutes.
I’m not talking about grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. I’m talking about incredibly delicious food that is comforting, clean, full of nutrients, and that you look forward to making.
This is what my FAME Recipe Building Course is all about. By the end of this two month program, you will have 30 fast, amazing meals that are SO easy to make, and UNIQUE to your body and lifestyle. They will become the staples in your home that ground you when your life gets crazy, and are the healthiest things that you eat.
#2 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP
Purchase double the fruit and vegetables you WANT to eat, and then actually eat it.
The challenge of buying produce is that it is perishable. If you buy a butternut squash or beet noodles and they “go bad” before you have the chance to cook them, that feels wasteful. So why would I suggest buying MORE produce??
The secret is: produce only goes bad if you don’t eat it. If you purchase produce you WANT to eat, and then actually eat it, then instead of being wasteful you will be FULL.
Buy 2 packs of fresh blackberries to eat today and tomorrow, and drizzle almond butter and honey on top. Buy 2 bags of fresh spinach, one to chop up and serve in your scrambled eggs in the morning (top this with salsa!), and one to fold into a warming soup (recipe below :)). At the end of the day, you will be much less tempted to eat that ice cream in your freezer if you have had enough fiber and natural sugars from plants, and if you feel satisfied. Not only that, but if you eat fresh produce you will be nourishing and strengthening your body, so you will have more energy, your thoughts will be sharp, and I promise you will be in a better mood.
#3 WAY TO AVOID THE TAKE OUT TRAP
Stock your pantry (with plants).
I have talked about this before, but it proves true every time. Having healthy pantry staples on hand will spark creativity and keep you from outsourcing your meals. Here are 3 essentials that I can’t live without:
Essential condiments - you can turn that half of a red pepper and broccoli florets that is left in your fridge drawer into an amazing stir fry, if you have soy sauce and sesame oil in your pantry. The number 1 best condiment to have is extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it a longevity food, but you can pair it with lemon for salad dressing, garlic for a pasta sauce, or with balsamic vinegar to drizzle over roasted veggies. It makes everything possible :).
Root vegetables - potatoes, onions, garlic, and hard squashes all will keep in your pantry for weeks. Onions and garlic add depth of flavor, and are cancer fighting (bonus). Hard squashes when roasted are sweet and so hearty, or try my Butternut Squash soup! Potatoes will round out any meal, and are part of longevity diets all over the world (making your own sweet potato fries instead of ordering them from a restaurant insures that you are in control of the added salt and undesirable oils!).
Nuts and dried fruit - snacking on protein rich nuts and sweet dried fruit will curb your take out cravings so you can make a logical dinner decision :). My favorite combos are: salted cashews with apricots, pistachios with dried cranberries, and roasted marcona almonds with dried dates.
Here is one of my favorite week night meals that combines all 3 ways to avoid the take-out trap, so having this recipe in your back pocket will basically make you invincible :). With the weather getting cooler and fall schedules getting fuller, there is nothing more comforting than filling your home with yummy smells and then having leftovers for the week.
Spinach and Potato Soup
1lb italian sausage
1lb red/purple/white potatoes (or substitute cauliflower florets!)
1 bag spinach, chopped
1 box chicken stock - 1 QT
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat a large pot on high heat. Cut casings off of sausage using a kitchen scissor, and add sausage to the pot. Break up sausage with a wooden spoon until it is all crumbled.
While sausage is browning, chop the onion, and chop the potatoes into rounds (or the cauliflower into florets).
Continue to cook sausage until browned and almost cooked through. Using a colander, drain sausage and then return to the pan. There will still be a little oil left in the pan, but if not, add 1 tbsp more and then add the onion. Season with salt and pepper, and saute the onion with the sausage until starting to soften.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes (cauliflower) and cook another 5-7 minutes until softened - you will know they are cooked when you can break them apart with a spoon!
Chop spinach into small pieces, so it is the size of a chopped herb. Add spinach to the pot and stir until just starting to wilt, but still bright green - 1 minute.
Serve soup in a giant bowl, and top with a sprinkle of pepper or parmesan cheese.