Healthy Cooking

Tater Tot Casserole

We all know that in order to eat healthy we need to start with cooking for ourselves. Cooking your own meals lets you control how much sugar, salt, oil, etc goes into your food.  However, when you live alone and are shopping and cooking for one, that makes the job all that much more difficult. Grocery stores and food manufacturers don’t cater to the single- living-alone type. They prepare and package food for a family of four. Now that my days are crazy busy and I can’t be home pondering and cooking up dinner all day long, I need to find easy, fast dinners to cook up. That way when I walk in the door at 8pm I’m able to eat something good for me, rather than something that is fast and easy to toss into my mouth. I’m all about opening a package and eating on the spot. Even three minutes in the microwave is too long to wait in my book. It’s a bad habit, but at least I recognize it and I’m working to keep that under control.

Dinner is ready!

I’ve used a recipe from Good Life Eats before, she’s one smart cookie who knows what’s good. In her post from last week she talks about the 3-2-1 Pasta Formula.  Pasta dishes are easy and pretty fast. They can be made with whatever you happen to have in the house. Whenever you’re looking in your pantry trying to sort out how to turn the items on hand into a meal, this is a good formula to follow.

I prefer making my own pasta sauce to buying jarred sauce. It’s  the way my parents cooked and it is so much cheaper to buy cans of tomato sauce rather than a jar of pasta sauce. So, yeah, I’m not a snob about sauce from a jar, I’m just really cheap.  But pasta can get boring after a while, I think using Katie Goodman’s formula will help keep the variety flowing and it looks like it’ll be easy to adapt when cooking for one. When you follow her formula you don’t really need a recipe, and honestly that’s what cooking is about. You don’t HAVE to follow a recipe, you can substitute wherever you want, experiment, and use the recipe as a guideline. Cooking should be fun, not a chore. I like to consider myself a mad scientist in the kitchen while brewing up meals. It makes it a little more interesting that way and when the failures hit, it’s all that more amusing.

What are your favorite recipes? Do you have any tricks to share when cooking for one?

–Pattie Lee

return to finding thin

2 responses to “Healthy Cooking

  1. Hey there!

    Your project looks great guys!

    I think one of the things you have to keep in mind in eating for weight loss (and for health), is that there is some effort involved. Too many people expect it to be effortless, and this is part of the reason it is hard for so many people.

    The process of changing your habits around has a lot to do with adjusting your mindset. 3 minutes in the microwave is not too long, unless you convince yourself it is. So I would suggest that it is a matter of perspective, and what you really want out of the process. It is a mental game, and if you have a tendency to convince yourself that it’s too hard, then it IS too hard.

    The other part of the process that we’ve seen, is that cooking the right foods for weight loss for each of us, is a journey in and of itself. You must constantly learn new things you like, experiment, and become efficient at it. For most of us, we want simplicity, but we desire variety. So those are conflicting concepts in some ways. So, for some it means grilling 3-4 pounds of chicken on the weekend and putting them into small containers. For others, this is a hard concept to grasp (mentally). Still for others, microwaveable meals are really important. So ultimately, each of us have our own mental barriers to overcome in all aspects of this process. It’s up to you to discover where you can budge your conventional ways, and get beyond your comfort zone (whether in the kitchen or in the gym). What we see is that the process of change is always the same. If we can endure the discomfort of change, it eventually becomes easy. Often however, it is our attitude that defines how long it may take for us to adapt new ways.

    Cooking for one is actually easier than cooking for more than one, IMO. I have seen many people who have to cook for their entire family, who aren’t on board with healthy eating. That makes it necessary for many to cook 2 separate meals. So if you look at it this way, you just need to learn how much to cook for just you. Leftovers just make it easier for you the next day, especially if you are busy. (Whether you will eat leftovers or not, is yet another mental obstacle that some face).

    The variety that you may think you require, is usually overestimated, if you look at your eating patterns over a couple weeks. Most tend to eat the same things. Still, grilling 4-5 chicken breasts ahead of time doesn’t mean you will eat chicken for every meal… it really just means you have an option for days that you just don’t have the time (or energy) to find something healthy. The second trick is making food you actually enjoy.

    Here’s my tip — try grilling 3 chicken breasts and use blackened chicken seasoning. If you are using big chicken breasts, butterfly them before grilling and it really should only take about 15 minutes to cook them. Cut them into pieces and put them in 6-8 oz containers.

    Buy some pre-washed salad mixes. Get the low calorie Trader Joes Caesar dressing (the one in the refrigerated section is only about 45 calories for 2 tblspoons). Buy some crumbled goat cheese. Shredded carrots and some corn if you like.

    Then throughout the week, you can have a really delicious salad with blackend chicken, and low cal Caesar dressing. Customize as you like, just try to keep the calories down.

    A simple variation is to get the Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette dressing, and use different seasoning on your chicken.

    Try this for a week — you may be surprised how having a quick option like that at your disposal can help keep your healthy eating more consistent through the week – which is the name of the game!

    Hope you try this tip! Good luck!


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