My guest blogger this week is my friend and colleague Amy Sonnenberg. Amy is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who believes that life can get complicated, but eating healthy shouldn’t be. She strives to make nutrition fun, delicious and not at all boring!
So you’ve decided to right size your home, your belongings and your life. What does that mean for cooking? Often the struggle of learning how to cook smaller amounts or within smaller spaces gets us into a rut of eating the same old thing or eating out more often than we would like. As a nutritionist, I believe that eating healthy is a priority whether cooking for one or a bunch. Come along with me as we explore pantry staples, budget friendly shopping and quick & easy meals.
With the below pantry & perishable staples, you can create a multitude of tasty meals and snacks. All of the below items are easy to find and often go on sale.
Pantry Staples: Try to find items with 5 or fewer ingredients that you recognize.
- unsweetened natural nut & seed butters – almond, peanut, sunflower, tahini
- raw nuts & seeds
- stewed tomatoes – no added salt
- vegetable broth – low sodium
- whole grain pasta, brown rice & oatmeal
- coconut milk
- honey or maple syrup instead of sugar
- 3 types of vegetables – in season
- 2 types of fruit – in season
- plain Greek yogurt & white cheese – (skip orange cheddar as it contains food colouring)
- whole grain bread – split and freeze the loaves to prevent bread from going mouldy
Tips & Tricks:
- Read the grocery store flyers before you go shopping.
- Shop at stores that offer price matching or senior’s discounts.
- Plan your menu based on what is on sale.
- Check your cupboards and fridge for inventory.
- Make a grocery list & stick to it.
- Eat before you go grocery shopping. You’ll spend less!
- Use a crock pot! It costs about .50 cents to run for 8 hours. It also does a great job of turning less expensive & tough cuts of meat into something delicious!
- Double your favourite recipe and freeze into single size portions.
- Cut up fruit & veggies ahead of time for healthy snacks.
- Cook & swap with a neighbour.
- Buy only what you need & avoid bulk perishable purchases unless you can share them.
Making Groceries Stretch:
- Cut up lettuce, wash & spin dry. Store in a container lined with paper towel to preserve freshness.
- Swirl berries in a solution of ¼ c. vinegar and 10 c. water. This will keep berries from going moldy.
- Store onions & potatoes in a dark, cool cupboard – preferably away from each other. Put an apple in the potato bag to keep potatoes from sprouting.
- Highly perishable food should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge.
Kitchen Tools Worth the Real Estate Space:
- Electric Pressure Cooker – I think these are totally worth the space they take up! Many models have several options ranging from the obvious pressure cooking function, to yogurt making, rice cooking, slow cooking & sautéing. My pressure cooker is an Instant Pot and I use it often for a wide range of cooking.
- Mini Food Processor – Do onions make you cry? Yes, me too! Having a mini food processor saves time & tears! I use mine regularly to mince garlic, chop onions & ginger. It is also great for making dips like guacamole, quickly and easily.
- Personal Sized Blender – I am a big fan of smoothies and homemade salad dressings. My personal sized blender does all the hard work while I simply get to sip on my smoothie or drizzle the salad dressing.
- Toaster Oven – My toaster oven gets nearly a daily workout as it is a great alternative to heating up the large oven or using a microwave. It is fantastic for reheating leftovers & simple baking.
Budget Friendly Meal Ideas:
- Soups & Stews
- Store bought roasted chicken
¢ Meal 1 – Chicken with brown rice & salad
¢ Meal 2 – Chicken salad on a whole grain wrap with veggies
¢ Meal 3 – Put chicken bones in crock pot with a whole carrot, a stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves & 1 tsp sea salt. Fill crock pot with water and let cook all day. Save some stock in small portions to freeze. With remaining stock, add bits of chicken, frozen mixed vegetables and whole grain pasta to make soup.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 small cooking onion
1 inch piece of ginger
1 clove garlic
Sea salt to taste
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
Wash & cut squash in half, remove seeds & place face down on a baking sheet in water. Bake at 375°F until soft. Allow to cool before trying to scoop squash out. Sauté onion in oil or butter until onion becomes transparent. Add minced garlic & chopped ginger. Sauté this for about a minute on medium heat. Remove from heat and add squash, coconut milk & broth. Season with sea salt. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can allow soup to cool and blend in a regular blender. Just before serving, squeeze ½ lime into soup. This soup is great and you can swap out the squash for carrots, pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Enjoy!
Tip: Make life a little easier by purchasing cubed butternut squash. You can find this either in the fresh produce section or in the frozen aisle of grocery stores.
butternut squash – great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre & antioxidants, manganese
ginger – digestive aid, eases inflammation & can help regulate blood sugar levels
garlic – immune system support, cardiovascular protection, supports blood pressure
lime juice – adds a burst of flavour without added sodium; also a great source of vitamin C, can help boost iron absorption, great source of antioxidants
Amy Sonnenberg is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who believes that life can get complicated, eating healthy shouldn’t be. She strives to make nutrition fun, delicious and not at all boring! Visit her at designedforyounutrition.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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