How to turn healthy eating into quality time

People tell me a lot that they’d like to eat healthy, but it takes time that they want to spend doing other things– spending time with the family, seeing cool things in the city, relaxing after a hard day, working on personal projects, learning new things. Or, it just takes a lot of ideas and it’s hard to think of something to make at night when you get home and you’re beat.

For me and Max, our meals are part of all this. We have amassed a collection of recipes culled from food blogs, and gorgeous hardcover cookbooks with glossy pictures. We often sit around over press-pot coffee on a weekend morning, after a run or walking the dogs, and plan out a week’s worth of meals. Recipes we know and love, ones we haven’t tried, ones that use an ingredient we saw at the market last time, ones that come together fast if it’s a busy night. This planning is like a ritual in itself– we look at the pictures, we enjoy it. We think how good that meal will be. We think about the week ahead– what’s going on?– and get our feet on the ground. We make a plan for some lunches, some dinners, some breakfasts– not usually 7 days worth, but enough to give us great options for most days and night.

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Evernote recipe library, lovingly curated over years

Then we do a weekend trip to the farmer’s market and/or sprouts and stock in everything we need to do the plan. This can be kind of fun in and of itself– the farmer’s market with its music and dogs and food trucks and, well, farmers, and the grocery store with the clerks who know us and the aisles laid out just so, where we know where to find exactly what we need. We’re really efficient shoppers by now 🙂

veggies

summer farmer’s market haul

Finally, we’ll spend a little time prepping food, usually on Sunday. The kitchen smells good and there are some tunes, maybe a little dancing. Maybe we’re cooking lentils or beans or bulgur or wheat berries. Maybe we’re soaking cashews and freezing bananas. Maybe we’re roasting some veggies and washing some greens. Maybe we’re feeling ambitious and we’re making homemade vegan sausage and raw sauces in the blender. It might take half an hour, if we kept it simple. It might take a few hours, if we went all in. This step is awesome– it’s quality time together, but it also makes the weeknight dinner or the midweek lunch for work come together in 10 or 15 minutes– faster than ordering pizza (which is still tempting sometimes!).

Will this work for everyone? Of course not! But it shows on a broad level how we’ve integrated meals into our lives as a centerpiece of time together and relaxing and creativity, rather than a drain on us and a chore that gets in the way of those things. It serves us well!

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