We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
Back in 2007, a researcher from UCLA found that dinner took an average of 52 minutes to prepare. Meals that were made using 50% or more convenience type food (pre-packaged, ready-to-eat, etc.) took only 10-12 minutes less to prepare.
Day 6 – Eat a Simple Meal
Today’s challenge is to shave time off dinner prep, even if it’s only for one night, by eating a simple meal.
Meals considered “simple” are going to be different for everyone, but things like sandwiches, soup, oatmeal and leftovers come to mind. Just because the meal is simple, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Take a classic and put a spin on it. Stretch your culinary skills by making ordinary extraordinary. Here are some ideas (and our favorites) to get you started:
Now just because the meal is simple, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Take a classic and put a spin on it.
- Combine a specialty cheese like brie or havarti with pears or apples and make grilled cheese. This is EXCEPTIONALLY delicious on buttermilk potato bread!
- Serve up breakfast for dinner. Try scrambled eggs and toast with homemade fruit butter. Or bake a crustless quiche with egg, kale, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese.
- Make a fresh pot of rice and toss all the random leftover is for rice bowls. Adding fresh Italian or taco seasonings will freshen it up!
- The old PBJ stand-by. Serve with a salad or soup and call it done!
- Snack for dinner by slicing carrot sticks, celery sticks, fresh fruit and serve with a dollop of peanut butter or yogurt (with just a smidge of honey and cinnamon is SO good). Toss a few almonds and sunflower seeds in there for added crunch.
- Got pizza toppings? We love making our own pizza dough, but when we’re in a time crunch, the toppings in between two tortillas with the sauce on the side is just as tasty. English muffins, bagels or thick slices of toast work well too!
- Pasta! Boil some noodles and combine whatever sauces you may have on hand. If you’ve cleaned out the fridge, melt some butter with olive oil and garlic and top with a sprinkle of cheese and freshly ground pepper.
What’s the point of eating a simple meal?
Despite my love affair with food, I don’t want to spend every night in the kitchen. Do you?
Eating simple gives us rest. Preparing traditional foods often takes a lot of time and effort. By resting our bodies (and minds), we can rejuvenate ourselves to keep plugging away on the other, more labor intensive days.
Eating simple reduces clean-up. Dirty dishes from a PBJ? One knife and one plate. We can even skip the plate if we eat outside (not recommended in colder climates). All of the meals mentioned above can be prepared in one pot/bowl/pan/dish or less!
Eating simple frees up the night. If we spent hours every night prepping, cooking and eating large, complex meals, we wouldn’t be able to do other fun things like soccer practice or Awana. A bowl of pasta may sound dreary, but a round of miniature golf afterwards makes up for it!
Eating simple frees up the budget. Homemade fruit butter and bread makes the peanut butter and jelly sandwich an incredibly cheap meal. This is partially what allows us to buy chicken and eggs that do more for our bodies.
What eating simple is not.
Opening up a cardboard box, pulling out a frozen pizza and setting the timer for 12 minutes is not eating simple. Besides, that stuff should be long gone and in the trash if you’ve been following the challenges!
Don’t sell yourself short on nutrition. Just because dinner is simple doesn’t mean dinner isn’t healthy. Take some suggestions above, or subscribe to get updates on the blog (and specifically this post). There is a wealth of knowledge and ideas among the readers here and they’re not shy to share! I ask – and they answer!!