Who has time to cook?

Being healthy means more than exercising–it’s about eating well, too.

If you really want your plans for your body to succeed, you have to consider every angle. So even if you’ve finally found a way to exercise two, three or six times a week, you still can’t ignore your diet. That includes dinner, parents! Stolen bites of the kids’ mac ‘n’ cheese do not count as dinner.

Mike and I love to cook–that helps. We love the grown-up time, when we can chat and chop and finally catch up on each other’s days. It was hard to keep up the cooking when we had Arabella, but we did it. So now that there are two kids, we are determined not to lose that nutrient-rich part of our day (“nutrients” being home-cooked food AND that grown-up non-TV time!). Our meals may be a little less glamorous than they used to be, but I promise–it is possible to make something more nutritious (and more glamorous) than cheese quesadillas and still get to bed at a semi-reasonable hour.

We may be a little nerdy about how we make it all happen, but we find that it’s worth it, and I thought we’d share how we go about maintaining a healthy kitchen.

It all starts with some simple planning. Mike and I typically cook five nights a week, and eat out once during the week and once on the weekend. Knowing that that’s how you do it takes the “what should we do for dinner tonight?” factor out of it. We go through cookbooks, magazines and websites every other Friday evening to come up with 10 meals we’d like to make over the next two weeks. It may sound daunting, but after a while, you build up an arsenal of go-to recipes and it really doesn’t take too long. And you can do as we did and start with planning for just one week at a time.

After that it’s easy. Pull the recipes, make a grocery list, and start shopping. We go to the Farmer’s Market for fruits and veggies (and cheese and wine and bread…) once a week. We take the rest of our shopping list to Kroger and grab everything else we’ll need to get us through the next two weeks. Now, as we run out of milk or cream or animal crackers–emergencies–our trip to the grocery store is in-and-out, easy, for two whole weeks! And the best part–we know what we’re preparing for dinner for 10 meals. We write them all up on our chalkboard and at dinner time pick one of the “week 1” meals and get cooking.

I haven’t even touched on the recipes yet, but already our kitchen is healthier because we are in control of what we are eating. Cooking your own food takes the guesswork out of how much oil or fat or bread or cheese is in what you are consuming. Cooking is a huge first step toward a healthier diet. I do want to share with you some of our favorite quick and healthy dinner choices, though, so look for some recipes in the next blog entries.

If you’re inspired, start today! Happy cooking!