Eating Out to Eating In

Are you like we used to be and struggle to eat in? Not sure what to make at home, or what you might be even interested in trying, maybe you just don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen? Well you’re not alone. I was just having this conversation with my mom, as she is also trying to eat well and stop spending so much money eating out. The problem is when you’re first starting to consider a. what it is you’re eating, and b. what you might want to make at home, a whirlwind of confusion can come over you being there are so many options and kitchen gadgets. I’m going to give you a few tricks that helped us as we transitioned from eating pure garbage all the time, to making food at home, to eating well.

Brunch of hash browns, gravy, bacon, eggs, and bread.
Unhealthy bunch of hash browns, gravy, bacon, eggs, and bread.

Are you a meat eater? Like your fried chicken and mashed potatoes, or delivery pizza? Do you like eating at sit down restaurants for steak and potatoes, or a burger and fries? If you answered yes to any of these, you sound like my husband and I back 3 years. It was a feat for me to make 1-2 meals a week, and usually I had no idea what I was doing. Our staples were meat tacos with basic toppings, chicken rice and veggies, homemade pizza, or pasta (spaghetti or something with a marinara sauce). Breakfast came from a box, usually packed with sugar and not much else. It was a feat at the time but looking back it was boring and not really much nutritional density to anything we ate.

Fast forward to about a year ago, when we decided we wanted to go mostly vegetarian. Living in the midwest and growing up with meat and potatoes, it’s not super easy to completely eliminate it, but we don’t go out of our way to bring home meat (other than occasional fish for the baby cravings). We slowly transitioned how we ate, from mostly just out, to in the house with different meat dishes, to mostly plant based dishes. It took some time to adjust to different things, but if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you.

The reason I say that is, growing up I hated all things vegetables. I wouldn’t eat lettuce cause it made me gag. Corn and potatoes were about the only things I’d eat, and of course they’re the two starchy vegetables. I basically refused to eat if it had vegetables in it, especially greens or onions. Now I live on greens and onions, and actually enjoy eating them. Give some of these meals a chance and you could see something you hated at one point is now something you really can enjoy!

Spicy Chickpea Spinach Pasta
Spicy Chickpea Spinach Pasta

Now lets start with some ideas on how to begin. First off identify some things you really like. For example, I have never really liked red meat, so when we started doing more thorough grocery shopping, we’d stick to ground turkey and chicken for meat products. I knew that salads weren’t really my thing, so we’d opt for foods that could be roasted or at least used in several different dishes that were sauteed or baked. Bulk shopping is also good (Costco or Sams), especially for things like chicken breast, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned goods, rice, quinoa, and oils and spices that you will use for many different types of food.

Once you identify some things you like, i.e. chicken and turkey. Head on over to Pinterest (or Google if you don’t like Pinterest) and do some generic searches. I start with ‘healthy chicken dinner’, ‘chicken and veggie dinner’, ‘easy chicken dinners’. Scroll through and look for things that appeal to you. Personally, I am always attracted to Mexican dishes, stuff that’s got creamier sauces, and Indian dishes, so we tended to start in those areas. Check a few of them out to get an idea of what goes into the recipes, how long they take, and the complexity of the directions. Easier and shorter, the better! Make sure you save or pin the ones you plan to try so you can find them again.

If you’re focused on health, try to steer clear of large amounts of heavy whipping cream, butter, and cream. Also keep in mind if you’re cooking with ground beef there are different fat percentages. The leaner the less fat you’re getting, and less cholesterol. There are lots of healthy substitutions that can be made – check back later for a post on healthy substitutions for some of our favorite foods.

Now by this point you’ve probably identified some recipes you want to try, and maybe have already gotten groceries for them. Now it’s a matter of making the food up in your kitchen. I’m a big proponent of meal prepping because some days after work, the last thing you want to do is get home and have to slave over the stove for an hour before dinner is ready. Some meals really don’t work for meal prep, but a lot of them can. It also matters how you like your food reheated. If the texture is a little off, I can handle that. If you have an issue with texture changes, meal prep might be more challenging for you, but don’t give up hope. If you don’t want to meal prep, make them one recipe per time you want/need a meal. Be cautious to see how many servings these recipes make. If you’re feeding 2 and the recipe makes 8 servings, you’ll be eating it for awhile. Consider making a half recipe if you don’t plant to freeze it or eat it or get sick of eating the same thing for several days.

If you are in doubt of how to do a step, or don’t know some basic kitchen skills, Youtube is your friend. You can find videos that show you how to juilenne vegetables, how to hydrate dried beans, or even how to cook an egg in a stainless steel pan. Utilize this free resource to help you make good choices!

I hope you found some value in this. I am happy to help you if you need a little inspiration of where to begin. Either shoot me an email through the contact page, or drop a comment below. Let me know what it is you’re struggling with, what types of foods you might be interested in, and I can try to send you some ideas! (I did originally want to be a dietician when I declared majors in college), so sharing my love of food is a passion of mine!

-Cassie 🙂

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