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Simplifying our food isn’t something that I intentionally set out to do. It happened as a by-product of a new diet I’m on to help heal my IBS. The diet is very restrictive which has meant I’ve had to cut back on a number of foods and cut out everything processed.
This has meant I’ve had to simplify our cooking. The fewer ingredients there are in a meal the better it is for my stomach.
It might sound like a pain but I’ve actually really enjoyed going back to basics with our food. Not to mention the amount of money we are saving on our weekly food shop as we’ve cut out all of the processed items.
I had got into a few bad habits with my cooking over the past few years. Opting for convenience every time. Now I have to cook everything from scratch so I know every single thing that has gone into my food.
I’ve found that this simplified way of cooking has had a really positive impact on our health and general wellbeing so I thought I’d share with you some of the things that we do to make it work.
How To Simplify your Food
Use Up What You Have
The first step in simplifying your food is to use up what you already have before you go shopping. Grab stuff out of your cupboards and get creative. What can you make with the items you already have?
This may mean you end up with a few weird combinations but you’ve paid for this food so it’s much better to use it than throw it away.
If you come across anything that you just won’t use consider donating it to your local food bank, (if it’s still in date). Anything that is a long time out of date needs to go in the bin.
The aim is to get your cupboards as empty as you possibly can. When we first did this we ate for about 2 weeks without needing to go to the shops, apart from for fresh items such as milk and fruit.
Only Buy What You Really Need
Before you go shopping always check to see what you already have in your cupboard. One thing I notice when I watched these programmes about peoples food shopping habits is that they always have cupboards filled with duplicate items.
If you are the organised type then a food inventory can be really helpful.
Create a 6-Week Meal Plan
Yes, that’s right I said a 6-week meal plan. Now before you freak out at the mere thought of having to come up with that many different meals it’s really not as hard as you think. Plus, you only ever have to do this once.
No more meal planning on a Sunday night every week. With our 6-week meal plan, I only focused on our evening meals. Our breakfasts generally consist of either cereal, toast or fruit and we always have those items in stock.
I’m the only one that eats lunch in our house as the kiddies are at school and the other half doesn’t eat lunch. I mainly have salads, fish or something with egg and again we always have those items in our kitchen.
How To Create a 6-Week Meal Plan
To start with do a ‘meal brain dump’; write down all of the meals that you have on a regular basis, your ‘go-to meals’. This could be things like chilli & rice, cottage pie and sausage & mash. Once you have those meals listed, which you’ll probably find is quite a few, next add in meals that you have found online or elsewhere that you’d like to try.
You should be starting to create quite a list by now. Once you have enough meals you then need to create your 6-week meal plan. Do it the same way that you would for a 1-week plan but do 6 of them.
I’ve created a FREE 6-week meal plan template that you are free to use if you need it. The template is blank so you can write in your own meals. You can download it here.
Once you have your 6 separate weeks you simply rotate the plans and after the 6 weeks, you start again at the beginning. By doing it this way you don’t have to create a new plan every week and you get a good variety of different meals over the 6 weeks.
If you try a new recipe and it didn’t work, was too complicated or you just didn’t like it, take it off the plan and replace it with something else. By doing this you’ll end up with a complete set of meals that you like and are easy to do.
Keep all of your recipes in one place. Either print them all off and keep them in a file in your kitchen or store them all in a folder on your phone or tablet.
Avoid Overcomplicated Recipes
Nowadays if I find a recipe that has too many ingredients in it I just skip it and move onto something less complicated. I’m not the best cook in the world and can find cooking quite stressful.
By sticking to simple recipes not only do we save money because we are buying fewer ingredients but I also find it much more pleasurable to cook.
Have a List
When you do go shopping always take a list. Whenever I went shopping previously I always use to ‘wing it’ which really isn’t the best way to go about it.
I’d end up with all sorts of weird combinations in my trolley and when I got home found that I’d missed things we needed.
Now before I go shopping I go through our cupboards, check what we need and write it all down on the notes on my phone. I also, check my meal plan to see what ingredients I need for each meal.
Avoid Processed Foods
One thing that has has a massive impact on my health is completely cutting out processed foods. As I said earlier, for me this wasn’t an intentional thing, it kind of happened by default because of the Low Fodmap diet I’m on. To start with I found this a bit of a nightmare mainly because I’m lazy when it comes to cooking. I always opted for the easy route.
However, I now have to cook everything from scratch and I love it. I love knowing exactly what is in my food. As an unexpected side effect, I also lost a lot of weight too which definitely makes me feel healthier.
If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been eating then check out my other Instagram account @lowfodmapjourney1
Use Up your Leftovers
If you have a busy week ahead then make some of your meals a bit bigger and have the leftovers during the week. An example of how we do this is to buy a whole chicken and roast it in the oven.
That night we will have it cold with some salad bits. For lunch the next day I might have a chicken sandwich. Then that evening I will use whatever is left to make a chicken curry. That’s 3 meals out of one chicken.
I then go as far as making Low Fodmap chicken stock with the carcass to use in other meals. I freeze the stock in my ice cube trays to use another day.
For *storing our leftovers I use my Stasher Bags and I love them. They are easy to use, reusable, versatile and easy to clean.
Related Post: Homemade Chicken Stock
Meal prepping is only something that I have recently got into. Every week when I buy our weekly food shop I will prepare some of the food ready for the week so I can just grab them as and when I need them.
Some examples of foods that I pre-prepare are boiled eggs, carrots, red cabbage for salads and cucumber. If you pre-prepare food it can lose some of its nutritional value but I weigh that up with the fact that when I don’t pre-prepare it I just don’t eat it.
I never go as far as pre-preparing entire meals, I’m just not that organised, just healthy stuff I can snack on. To see the prettiest and most organised fridge EVER check out the blog Hello Nutritarian by Kristen. I have totally fridge envy!
So what about you? Could you simplify your food and eating habits?
Constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Try my free course 7 Days to Simplify your Life