I have always dabbled in finding the right food habits for my body. I have had serious medical issues my whole life that have restricted my personal control in many aspects of my own life. I had limits on how much school I could go to, how much time I could spend active, and how much independence I had from my parents. The only place I had control was in my eating. I ate a strict vegan diet for 2 years, but upon getting a job at an indoor farmer’s market and specialty cheese shop, I relaxed my diet to include some dairy products and eggs. The tiny food shop had one rule: they didn’t carry any foods with ingredients that your great-grandparents couldn’t recognize. That means no fillers, no chemical preservatives and no food colorings. Even though I left that job 4 years ago, I kept the values that shop taught me and I have eaten clean ever since. It seems like it is hard and expensive to eat a diet free of processed and pre-made food, but certain easy food habits keep both me and my wallet happy, healthy, and full.
Follow a 90% rule at the grocery store
Have 90% of the food bought when grocery shopping contain only one ingredient. An avocado only contains avocados, eggs only contain eggs, and so-forth. This makes you 90% sure you know exactly what you’re eating. As for the other 10%, I love pasta and good dark chocolate too much to ignore that longing. No one is perfect.
Always have sautéed veggies on hand
If there is one thing in my fridge at all times, it is a container of any/all types of veggies already sautéed with no specific spices. It is simple to make in bulk and the veggies will last longer than if they are just sitting fresh. It’s the perfect filling addition a quick burrito, scrambled eggs, or quinoa stir-fry. This makes it super easy to be healthy and lazy at the same time.
Be a whiz at lazy food prep
I have never had the dedication to truly meal prep and make cute little containers to eat once a day. First of all, who has that many leftover containers, and second, who has enough willpower to not eat three of them for dinner? This is where the freezer comes into play. I am all about taking a free Sunday morning to whip up 40 homemade veggie burgers or a big pot of soup to freeze and save for when I don’t want to cook. It is always a small blessing when I have my protein prepared and ready to go. The key is to be productive so you can be lazy later.
Embrace the trashcan soup (and have a broth bag handy)
Some of the best meals I have ever made came out of desperation-turned-creativity. When I have a ton of vegetables that are slightly (or very much) past their prime, I will make trashcan soup. Old veggies, any type of beans, quinoa, and broth makes for a pretty awesome meal. This is where the broth bag comes into play… any part of vegetables you usually throw away can be put in a large ziplock bag in the freezer. It keeps for months and once it’s full, you have all you need to create a broth for your soup! It’s the circle of life.
Try to make what you usually buy (at least once)
I’m not about to waste my time trying to make my own butter, but so many things you usually buy are much cheaper and tastier when you make them. Why buy 2 small cans of black beans when you can make a whole pot full for the same price? Same goes for hummus, broth, pasta sauce, and so many other things we usually don’t second guess buying. Maybe some of the foods will be preferred pre-made, but maybe you will find a new favorite homemade staple.
Yes, it takes average amounts of dedication and willpower to thrive while eating clean, but it takes a lot less than most people believe. Treat your tummies well, people!