The Secret to Simple (Healthy & Sustainable) Eating
We are all too aware of the importance of food, for our physical and mental wellbeing, and for the world. We know our food choices have a powerful impact on ourselves, the communities involved in producing it, and the planet.
The desire to consume healthy and sustainable food can make deciding what to eat every day both time-consuming and challenging. We want to show love and respect to our bodies and the world, but sometimes we lack the time or energy to make this happen. This can lead to a sense of failure when we chose convenience, or frustration when we push hard to keep up our standards.
Thinking about food can be a true pleasure, just as eating should be, but sometimes we have other priorities. And that's okay. Rather than giving up, feeling inadequate or tiring ourselves out by pushing through, the solution just might be to create a system that puts sustainable and healthy eating on auto-pilot.
Simplifying in this way gives you the peace of mind that comes with making good choices for your body and the planet while freeing up the mental (and temporal) space sometimes needed for other things. Putting what you eat on auto-pilot when you need it to be enables you to eliminate stress and retain the pleasure you take in food, freeing you to take your time and be creative in the kitchen when it suits.
This auto-pilot approach essentially consists of having a single base for each meal. A base that aligns with your vision of healthy and sustainable eating, that is easily adaptable (can be made with different combinations of ingredients), and takes no longer than twenty minutes to prepare.
For example, breakfast could be porridge, a smoothie or a fruit bowl. Lunch could be soup, a wrap or a salad. Supper could be a stir fry, a tart, or another salad. The idea is to decide on one base per meal (you could even keep lunch and supper the same). Your choice of course can change whenever your like, and with the seasons.
When you shop, buy a selection of ingredients that can be used to make up your bases: things you love, that are in season and that go together. Each meal can then be prepared using some of whichever elements you feel like at the time. This allows for a certain amount of variety without creating complexity, and helps avoid waste. What you don't eat today is very easy to use up tomorrow, as part of the same basic meal. To make things even simpler, you might even consider doing some prep in batches.
On top of your two or three base dishes, you can also curate a selection of around five seasonal dishes that you can easily swap in when you have guests or feel like a change without wanting to get too creative. You don't need to have all the ingredients for these in your pantry (especially not the fresh ones). Just have the options planned in advanced so you don't have to think of something when the time comes.
By creating a system that ensures healthy and sustainable eating with maximum simplicity, putting what you eat on auto-pilot feels surprisingly freeing. By eliminating the chore of deciding what to eat when you have other things to think about, it opens up space for occasional creativity and continual pleasure.