Alright, I’ve been dying to write this post because you guys, I’m cooking! I knew after the first week that I had found a system that worked for me but I wanted to get through a full month before I shared it with you all. For those that don’t like cooking, stay with me. I promise there is more to this post than simply finding a love for cooking because honestly, I still don’t love cooking. What I’ve learned has gone way beyond the actual act of cooking and here’s how it has changed my life.
In order to share what happened over the last 30 days, let’s start at the beginning. Well, 9 years ago but here we go. When I moved back from New York City to California, I lived with my brother and his wife for a couple of months while I looked for a job and an apartment. We decided it would be a good idea to rotate cooking meals. I had to contribute in some way, right? It pains me to write this but my contribution was Old Bay seasoned fish and vegetables cooked in Ziplock Zip ‘n Steam cooking bags. That night I was kicked out of the rotation.
After that embarrassment, I did learn to cook a few dishes and also found that I was really good at following recipes. My issue wasn’t my ability to cook but my lack of desire. I had only so much time in the day and didn’t want to spend it searching for healthy meals, putting together a shopping list, grocery shopping, oh and then actually cooking. Hard pass.
Since having kids, my desire to cook has strengthened. I didn’t want chicken nuggets and pizza bites to be our go-to dinners so this year I got serious about my New Year’s resolution to eat healthy and cook more for the family. Instead of just making New Year’s resolutions, I planned for them.
The week prior to the new year, I created my plan, worked out the kinks, and got buy-in from the family. Fast forward to 30 days later and we are running like a well oiled machine. Stress free meal planning, cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner, and seeing a ripple effect of additional good habits. I still feel like I’m writing about someone else but here’s how I went from a die hard Lean Cuisine fan, and frozen chicken nugget lover, to someone who is now cooking healthy meals with ease.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
One of the things about growth and change is that it’s different for everyone. Even if you have the same goals as your friend, the way you approach it may be completely different. There are many options to make cooking easier, you just have to find what works for you. I had to take a step back and look at what my pain point was and how I could fix it. For me, it was time. The time it took to find healthy recipes, create the shopping list, grocery shop, and then actually cook. I only had so much time I was willing to give and I needed to find a way to be more efficient with my time.
I found a company called eMeals. It allows you to choose the types of meals you want (low-cal, keto, quick and healthy, etc.) and also shows you the time it takes to cook them. I won’t even look at breakfast/lunch recipes that are over 10 minutes or dinner recipes over 35 minutes unless it’s a slow cooker recipe. Hey, I’m realistic and know my limits. I’m focused on time because with twin boys, I don’t have much of it. If you love 1 hour cook time recipes, do you, and please invite me over for dinner.
TRUST THE PROCESS
For the first month, I committed to eMeals. I knew the meals were healthy, didn’t have to think about the grocery list, and shopping was done for me with curbside pickup. Each week I planned my meals using a meal planing template. I made it easy on myself by not overthinking and trusting the process.
I’m someone who loves eating healthy but didn’t know what I was doing. My go-to meals were always Lean Cuisines, insert bland meal here, or a salad. I trained myself to think that good tasting food was unhealthy. I know nutritionists reading this are cringing. With eMeals, one unexpected bonus is that I learned to love food again. I trusted that the meals were healthy and enjoyed each and every meal. After 30 days of delicious meals, food is no longer simply fuel. I now appreciate the aroma, different flavors, and get excited about trying the next meal.
THE MORE YOU DO SOMETHING THE EASIER IT BECOMES
This one seems obvious but for me it still took me by surprise. When I started the month I barely knew how to cook. I knew how to take the leaves off fresh thyme from watching Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass, and could follow a recipe, but Brian still made the potluck dishes I was supposed to bring to work. After the first week, I was able to whip up salad dressings by memory and follow a recipe without double checking it 50 times. I soon began to float around the kitchen like a seasoned chef and ended meals with a smile. If you know me, you are probably reading this like who is this person? Honestly, I don’t know but I’ll happily make you dinner next time you visit.
IT’S CALLED DELEGATION
I’ve always been lucky to be married to someone who loves cooking. When he’d ask me to help with meals it felt like a chore after a long day at work. Thankfully, this month cooking didn’t feel like a chore. At the beginning of the month I was cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Around week 2.5, when I had proven to myself I could cook, we started to tag team dinner. Before leaving to pick up the kids, I’d text Brian the recipe and he’d start cooking. When I got home, I’d join in and help finish the meal. It was fun to cook together again and it lifted the weight of cooking every night by myself.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
My resolution to eat healthy and cook more had a ripple effect in other areas of my life. I became more consistent with my home workouts and drank less wine during the month. Without trying, I actually lost weight, gained skeletal muscle mass, and reduced my percent body fat. I created a healthy change in my life and other areas of health and wellness followed.
If you are looking to make a change in your life, start by making it easy, trust the process, and know that that the more you do something the easier it will become. If you are cooking for the family, include the family, and have fun doing it together. Don’t be surprised when one change, creates a ripple of other changes. That’s called growth and girl, you are about to blossom!